City seeks to bring in private dollars to Altamesa and McCart through public investment


When 46-year-old Annie Redowl opened her first Filipino grocery store off McCartt Avenue almost five years ago, the first question customers asked her was, “Do you have a gun?” .

“I said, ‘For what?'” said Ledoul, who now owns the Pinoy Best Oriental Market on Altamesa Boulevard.

“Well, there are a lot of crazy people in this area,” people told her.

“I was like, ‘No, I don’t have a gun. I just trust God. So as long as you make sure someone needs your attention, you don’t have to be scared.'”

For Redowl, safety measures also mean keeping store doors locked, even during business hours, and communicating safety concerns to property managers.

Improving infrastructure and increasing safety is one of the concerns of local business owners who have witnessed declining commercial growth along the Altamesa and McCarter corridors. In response, Fort Worth City officials and 6th District Councilman Jared Williams, who represents the area, offered incentives to use public funds to fund improvements and business revitalization in the area and the creation of his zone. started talking about

Specifically, Williams is working with staff to propose tax-raising loan districts and public improvement districts as potential tools to attract investment and address concerns from residents and businesses.

The two proposals from the city are not new ideas. Fort Worth currently has 13 Improvement Districts and 11 Incremental Financing Zones.

What is a Tax Increase Financing District?

Increased tax financing districts freeze the value of local property taxes, allowing property values ​​to rise as more investment and development occurs in the area. As real estate values ​​increase, the difference between base value and new value is set aside to fund infrastructure projects.

It is usually run by a board of directors appointed by a city, county, or other taxable entity. They approve all policies, projects and investments funded by the Foundation.

What is a public maintenance zone?

In public service districts, local businesses and residents in the area choose to charge themselves additional taxes collected from commercial and residential property taxes for improvements such as security and maintenance.

These districts are created by petition and managed by property owners within the district’s area.

Vacancy and turnover rate

In the decade since she started her hair salon and adjoining tax office in the Lone Star shopping center on McCartt Avenue, Victoria Gomez has seen many local businesses “open and close.”

“They can’t afford to pay,” said the 57-year-old owner of Sisters Beauty Salon and Gomez Tax Service.

Even City Councilman Williams, who grew up in southwestern Fort Worth and is familiar with the Altamesa and McCartt areas, recalls a business landscape different from the one most familiar and seen today.

Jared Williams, who grew up in southwest Fort Worth and currently represents the district on the city council, wants to help reinvest in the Altamesa and McCart corridors. (Christian Argetasoth | Fort Worth Report)

He grew up with a bowling alley, movie theater, skating rink and two grocery stores all at the intersection of Altamesa Boulevard and West Creek Drive.

Today they are gone.

“A lot of people talk about the early days of the Altamesa and McCarter corridors and the variety of services that were offered,” Williams said. “Over time, we will see some patterns and challenges that require reinvestment in the corridor, ensuring that the Altamesa and McCarth areas remain vibrant for another 20+ years.”

The desire to reinvest in the region is not new, he said.

The Altamesa and McCart corridors are one of many areas the City of Fort Worth will target for revitalization in 2022.

Some infrastructure improvements have already begun in the corridor, with a $2 million intersection improvement on the corner of Altamesa Boulevard and McCartt Avenue. According to the city’s website, the design phase is complete and construction is expected to begin in January 2023.

Williams said this approach to reinvestment, combined with the internal work the city is doing, will accelerate economic development there.

The city’s 2017 Economic Development Strategic Plan states that while only 18% of the Altamesa-McCurrt Corridor remains undeveloped, there is “a vast area of ​​potential for redevelopment.” increase.

“Most of the jobs in the area are commercial, and communities have expressed interest in focusing on developing retail, commerce and services, as well as improving public spaces,” the plan said. “The main challenges to improving the Altamesa and McCarter areas are the number of private landowners dividing the area, the level of construction and the presence of ‘stable but struggling’ older businesses.”

bringing in dollars

To attract investment to this part of southwestern Fort Worth, City Councilman Williams and city officials must first involve residents and business owners. A series of public meetings, whose dates have not yet been announced, will take place throughout the first half of 2023.

Ideally, the goal is to have funding for improvement districts and tax increases approved by the summer of 2023, Williams said.

What can the tax increase loan be used for?

Funds from TIF are typically used for large-scale projects that improve infrastructure such as roads and utilities, environmental restoration, preservation and restoration of historic assets, improved sidewalks, and more.

What can public interest district money be used for?

Funds from PID can be used to beautify the cityscape through maintenance, the addition of medians, benches, trash cans, and more. It can also be used to improve safety, such as adding security personnel, adding streetlights, or improving community areas.

Mark Green, president of the Wedgwood East Neighborhood Association in southwestern Fort Worth, served on the Benbrook City Council several years ago when the city passed an improved district and tax increase loan.

He’s seen the impact of financial tools, mentioning other areas of the city, such as the Near South Side, Medical District and Stockyards, which benefit from these special zones.

“The idea is to bring in more business, bring in bigger business,” he said. “It was successful. I mean, it was slow. But it ended up accomplishing a lot of what it was intended to be.”

For Greene, implementing incentive zones means diversifying economic opportunities, attracting people from outside the neighborhood, and spending money.

“If you only have fast food, there is nothing about the office such as professional services other than, say, the Frost Bank building and a few tiny little things. There are only underutilized strip centers,” he said.

But some business owners don’t believe that having people who already bear the cost to pay additional taxes for beautification will help the store survive.Sara’s Halal Food on McCart Avenue This is the case of Hussein Hassan, owner of .

Instead, the 50-year-old believes a streamlined city-wide permit system will drive business growth. Hassan wants to expand his store and needs to tear down the wall that connects the two sides.

He is still paying rent for the second site, but has not yet obtained a permit.

“We pay our rent every month. I pay my electric bill every month. Bills — a lot of things. They make our paperwork easy. I want to (renovate) the inside right now.” Why is it taking five or six months to get the evidence?

The Fort Worth Report previously reported that starting a restaurant in Fort Worth costs an average of $4,250 in fees and licenses alone.

The city announced plans in June 2022 as the first step to streamline the permitting process.

With a variety of interests along the Altamesa and McCarter corridors, City of Fort Worth staff and city councilor Williams knows there’s a tough job ahead to make this a success in the long term.

“We will engage our neighborhoods, our businesses, our commercial corridors, and our city officials to ensure that additional work is done that reflects the opportunities and values ​​our communities see in that corridor. We need to be involved: implementing these tools in a way that is faithful, efficient, and successful in the long term,” Williams said.

Sandra Sadek is a member of the Report for America corps covering the growth of Fort Worth Report. Contact her at Sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or follow her on her Twitter. @ssadek19.

The Fort Worth Report makes news decisions independently of its board members and financial backers. Learn more about our editorial independence policy here.

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