A 65-acre site where Lockheed Martin once developed top-secret military planes could be transformed into a sprawling residential neighborhood.
Nearby residents are skeptical of those plans, even after the developer adjusted them.
“It is what it is,” Chapel Creek neighborhood president Gary Hogan said. “People who have lived here long term, they’re just afraid that if the developer gets the zoning, and he goes ahead and builds it, we’ve only got his word.”
Residents fear high-density development will bring additional pressure on an already strained infrastructure and school system. As west Fort Worth is expected to exponentially grow over the next decade, those same residents say developments are popping up on every street corner. But they would rather see improvements to the infrastructure and amenities already there before adding more housing.
Site plans for the 335-unit development on the corner of White Settlement Road and Academy Boulevard show 70% of the units will be rental townhomes, with the remaining 30% being single-family homes for sale. The plan will also accommodate seven commercial lots.
Austin-based developer Core Spaces has yet to purchase the property or present the plan to the City Council. If purchased, the developer would need to request a zoning change once it applies for a permit before the council.
The site is valued at $1.3 million, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District. The developer did not disclose the price of the land to the Fort Worth Report.
Hogan organized a Feb. 10 meeting between concerned residents in the area and Core Spaces. The developer agreed to reduce the density by adding single-family homes alongside the townhomes.
In a statement to the Report, Matt Pagoria, vice-president of land acquisition at Core Spaces, said the company has been in contact with residents throughout the process, gathering constructive feedback. The company does not have a timeline for filing paperwork yet, Pagoria said.
Residents worry the addition of high-density housing will exacerbate the pressure already felt on the roads and schools in the area. The city of Fort Worth describes high-density as multifamily dwelling units with a maximum of 32 dwelling units per acre.
History of the site:
The 65-acre site in west Fort Worth is the former location of a Lockheed Martin facility known as Building 500. The structure was completed in 1989 and was first used by General Dynamics. The main use of the building was the development of the U.S. Navy’s A-12 Avenger II program, which lasted from 1988 to 1991. Shortly after the program was canceled, the complex was sold to Lockheed Martin. The aerospace company completed its move out of the facility in 2014, and the owner of the property demolished the structure in 2017.
Source: Lockheed Martin Corporation.
For nine years, Michael Bush has lived in the Vista West neighborhood, fewer than 10 blocks from the Lockheed Martin site. Many residents would prefer to see additional amenities like restaurants, parks, or even a grocery store, he said.
“We have one grocery store that’s right there at the corner of I-820 and White Settlement Road. You have a lot of fast-food restaurants. There are really no decent restaurants to sit and eat,” Bush said.
Since 1987, Carolyn Baker has lived in the Westpoint neighborhood, a couple of miles south of the site. Multifamily, high-density development will add pressure to nearby White Settlement ISD schools that are already running out of space, she said.
In November, White Settlement ISD, the school district that serves that area, proposed a $115 million bond package to address enrollment growth by adding more classrooms at all elementary schools and some additional facilities. The bond failed by 13 votes.
Baker also echoed her neighbors who worry the rental housing will bring crime and become low-income housing. Many pointed to the Las Vegas Trail as an example of what might happen if rentals come to this side of town and are not kept up.
“I am fine with the higher price point because it hopefully keeps the riff-raff out,” Baker said. “We’ve had other developers come in here and want to slap up apartments and make their money and leave.”
This area near White Settlement is 67% white, with less than 10% of the population living under the poverty line. Census data also shows 84% of housing in the area is single units and the median household income is $72,964.
In contrast, Las Vegas Trail is 51% Hispanic and 17% Black, with 38% of the population living under the poverty line. Multifamily units make up 64% of all housing there and the median household income is around $32,000, according to the census.
The site is located in Fort Worth City Council District 3, which council member Michael Crain represents. Crain said he understands residents want more parks and amenities, but there are already several nearby. The city does not plan to purchase the land and make it into a park.
However, Crain assured residents that new development proposals will be required to have a certain amount of green space per city ordinance.
“I want whatever does go into that to fit with the neighborhood and fit with what the neighborhood would like to see out there,” the council member said.
As the city continues to grow, the demand for affordable housing has increased. The average rent in Fort Worth has increased 17% since March 2020. Overall average rent in the city is currently at $1,355, according to Apartment List.
“People automatically think poor people, but you and I both know that there’s a gap in between what people can really afford and the houses out there,” Crain said. “That’s not really attainable for a lot of people like your teachers, your policemen, firemen.”
Residents like Bush and Baker said they are aware of the rapid growth in the area and that it can’t be slowed. They only want to make sure it is well planned ahead of time so the infrastructure can support it.
“It’s not that we’re opposed to growth or opposed to people moving in. It’s just the planning seems backward to us,” Bush said. “They’re just pumping all these homes and apartments and rentals in and then not worrying about where they’re going to go to school, get their food, how to get to work.”
Fort Worth Report fellow Sandra Sadek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.