As development booms nearby, how does Fort Worth’s Historic Northside retain its identity? (2024)

Kamal Morgan

·4 min read

An effort is underway to better define and preserve the Historic Northside District of Fort Worth as an independent commercial district.

The move comes as the district itself is changing and as it could be influenced by major developments gaining momentum on its borders in the Stockyards and on Panther Island.

The Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is working alongside the community to develop its own commercial corridor and possibly a standalone organization to represent the corridor similar to Near Southside Inc. or the Camp Bowie District.

The Hispanic Chamber conducted a survey recently to get feedback on what residents, businesses owners, and visitors see as important to preserve or change in the Historic Northside District. The boundaries of the district stretch roughly along North Main Street from Grand Avenue to Exchange Avenue and from Lincoln Avenue and to the railroad tracks east of North Main.

There were 470 responses to the survey. Some of the questions asked were: What are the top three reasons you visit Main Street in the Historic Northside?l What three business types would you like to see more of on Main Street in the Historic Northside?; and What would make you feel more welcome, comfortable, and safe in and around Northside?

“It’s so important to have people who not only live here, but people who visit and patronize these businesses, or people who maybe have visited before and haven’t visited in a while,” Annette Landeros, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber, said. “We’re looking for all the different viewpoints because all of them are necessary for us to have a thriving commercial corridor.”

Diana Rios, 66, has lived in the north side neighborhood nearly her entire life. She hopes the new attention on the area can address issues such as vacant buildings, the cost of parking and the need for covered bus stops, more bicycle lanes and even a new community pool.

While she has concerns about the developments in the Stockyards and on Panther Island, she also sees opportunity. She is sad about the planned demolition of LaGrave Field, where she once attended baseball games, but she knows it will make way for development on Panther Island.

Rios is concerned the hotels planned in the Stockyards will erode the cowboy culture of the area and will be out of place next to establishments where TV shows like 1883, Prison Break, and Yellowstone have been filmed.

As the Stockyards expand, she hopes job opportunities will be created for young people from the north side.

“They can be busboys, they can be waitresses, but you need to hire some of them,” she said.

Hugo Martinez lives in Hurst but grew up on the north side, and his mother still lives there. He considers it a tight knit neighborhood where people stay or frequently return to visit because of the food, tradition, language, and culture.

Martinez, an U.S. Immigration Judge, said having a business corridor will improve small businesses and encourage the community to flourish.

He hopes the city continues to invest in communities of color like north side and other parts of Fort Worth. He says the expansion of the Stockyards is good but more resources should be invested in the north side neighborhood, as well. The people who live on the north side remain even when tourists in the Stockyards leave, he noted.

“I’ve always felt that the Stockyards belong to everyone in Fort Worth, but they’re surrounded by a community that shouldn’t be forgotten either,” Martinez said. “Because, ultimately, this community has been here as long as the Stockyards have been here. And I hope that the city keeps that in mind and takes this opportunity to invest not only in the north side but in its people.”

The city has approved a $1 billion expansion plan for the Stockyards that would include new commercial and residential developments, underground parking garages, and improvements to the Cowtown Coliseum. For Panther Island, plans are moving forward to dig a 1.5-mile bypass channel in the Trinity River to create the island and open the gates for further development.

In August 2022, Historic Northside was one of the two neighborhoods, along with Polytechnic Heights, to become part of Fort Worth’s first pilot program to create business corridors through a partnership with Main Street America, an organization focused on commercial district revitalization and urban corridors. The partnership will include training to produce a strategy to improve economic growth, funding for a full-time staff member to implement the corridor’s strategy, and funding for other projects.

In 2023, the Hispanic Chamber was one of six organizations recognized through the GM on Main Street Grant Program by Main Street America and General Motors. The grant program funds innovative initiatives and projects in local commercial districts. The chamber used the grant to fund a concert series in Mejorar Marine Park with local musical performances, a vendor market, and food trucks.

Another initiative by Hispanic Chamber for Main Street included mixers held to introduce property owners, developers, small business and restaurant owners to each other and open lines of communication. On June 1, a zoning workshop was held at the Artes de La Rosa Cultural Center to give residents an understanding of zoning regulations.

As development booms nearby, how does Fort Worth’s Historic Northside retain its identity? (2024)
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