Alan Scaia, WBAP 24/7 News
FT. WORTH (WBAP 24/7 NEWS) - About 3,100 people live in downtown Fort Worth right now. By 2023, the booster organization serving the city center hopes that number will nearly double.
"The central city as a whole has a lot to offer," says Melissa Konur, the director of planning for Downtown Ft. Worth, Inc. "We just need to tell our story better."
Using the tagline "Cowboys and Culture," the organization has unveiled a draft proposal for its next ten year plan.
The plan would encourage mixed-use developments that would replace parking lots near the Intermodal Transportation Center and Henderson Street corridor.
"You might leave the core of downtown to go to the southside or West Seventh and it's not that far of a walk or bike ride, but you might be a little uncomfortable because there's vacant parking lots around you," Konur says.
Near the ITC, parking lots extend for 12 consecutive blocks between Calhoun and Jones Streets. DFWI's proposal would encourage development of retail and housing at several different price points. Parking garages would replace surface lots.
The draft would also consider options to modernize or expand the arena on the north end of the convention center.
The next ten year plan will likely encompass a wider area than previous efforts. With most construction at Sundance Square scheduled to be complete later this year, stakeholders believed the mission should be expanded to the Trinity River on the north and west and I-35W to the east.
Konur says the goal is to create a more walkable downtown that easily connects to surrounding neighborhoods.
"We have great continuity on our north-south streets, but what we don't have is great lighting and pedestrian environments on our east-west streets," she says, adding that new residents on the northeast side of downtown are struggling to find a way across Spur 347 as traffic enters and exits the freeway system. "How do they cross Belknap and Weatheford to get to the core of downtown? We do need better connectivity."
Among other proposals in the draft plan:
- Encourage development of vacant land on the north side of Lancaster Avenue and explore re-use of the post office building near the T&P Warehouse.
- Work with the Ft. Worth Transportation Authority and the city to support the completion of TexRail by 2016 and consider a transit strategy for the central city that could include the expansion of Molly the Trolley to the Cultural District, Southside and Stockyards.
- Seek additional primary and secondary education options in downtown, including the development of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math academy.
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