The special tax designation that helped jumpstart development on the Near Southside, known as a tax increment financing district, is set to expire at the end of the year. But, city officials and neighborhood leaders are looking for ways to extend some portion of that funding.
“We are having discussions internally at the city and externally with Near Southside, about what the future post-TIF looks like,” said Elizabth Beck, District 9 City Council member.
Beck and Mike Brennan, president of the nonprofit Near Southside Inc. that helps foster development in the neighborhood, both said they don’t know yet what form the funding post-TIF will take, but expect to find some solutions soon.
A meeting of the TIF board for the Near Southside is set for Oct. 7 and officials expect to offer a plan then.
The organization has been “wildly successful” in transforming the area since it was formed in 1996, Beck said. The area has received awards and honors locally, statewide and nationally for its economic development over the past several years.
“We don’t want to lose that momentum,” she said.
The Near Southside is a 1,278-acre neighborhood area of residences and businesses that extend to Interstate 30 to the north, Allen Avenue to the south, Evans Avenue to the east and Forest Park Boulevard to the west. It includes the South Main and Magnolia Avenue urban villages, the northern section of the Fairmount neighborhood and the Evans and Rosedale urban villages east of Interstate 35W.
In February of this year, the city council approved a plan that would dedicate money from expiring Tax Increment Financing Districts, for economic development.
One of the priorities for tapping into the TIF funds was to create “deal closing money” to financially lure businesses to the city, Robert Sturns, the economic development director for the city of Fort Worth, told the council in a January presentation.
“We’re actually behind the 8-ball, I’ll just be frank with you,” Sturns said to the council in a meeting on Jan. 4.
Beck said the city could use some of those funds for the Near Southside.
“There’s discussion about organizations like Near Southside being able to apply for funding as part of that program,” she said.
Tax financing districts, like the one in the Near Southside, are a way for the city to finance larger infrastructure projects without having to dip into the city budget. As tax financing districts attract investment and new development, the total taxable value of the area increases. The tax increment –the funds that make up the difference between the new taxable value and the original base value –are then set aside to help finance public improvements within the district.
Fort Worth has 15 tax districts in total.
The Near Southside/Medical Innovation district has seen a variety of development and redevelopment since the tax district was formed. Most recently the area has seen the re-opening of the updated Paris Coffee Shop and a groundbreaking for TCU’s Burnett School of Medicine. Soon a development called The 701 will open. The project at the corner of Hemphill and Magnolia Avenue, combines a new development with a historic building and will be the headquarters of VLK Architects.
In 2019, the city created a medical innovation district in the Near Southside seeking to attract medical-related enterprises to the city.
In 2020, the Near Southside received the Cultural District designation from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
“I think we have to make sure that we are supporting the things that we get right,” said Beck. “And I think that the work that Near Southside has done has got it right.”
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.