A group of business owners, residents and community members for years led an effort to reimagine what the corridor along Race Street in Fort Worth could look like. Now, the group known as Riverside Arts District is registered as a nonprofit and is changing leadership.
Registering as a nonprofit will make a difference because it will allow the group to raise funds for placemaking projects like wayfinding signs, said Debby Stein, who led the group since its formation in 2012.
The group could also spur growth in the area by prioritizing walkability, safety and pedestrian-friendly aspects.
“We’re coming to another level, and a lot of it is about raising funds to do the things you want to do,” Stein said.
Stein is the director emeritus of the group. Now, Riverside Arts District is led by Aaron Latchaw, co-owner of Race Street Coffee and a resident of the neighborhood.
The city of Fort Worth has poured $5.6 million, via bond funds and federal grants, into the area along Race Street known as the Six Points Urban Village. Approximately $2.4 million is being used from the Federal Highway Administration.
Known by some as River East or Riverside, there’s a concerted effort to rebrand as the Riverside Arts District. The street is lined with several large apartment complexes, shops and restaurants. Many businesses along the corridor have struggled for their survival.
Fort Worth District 11 council member Jeanette Martinez gave the group a certificate of recognition and offered support.
“I make it a point to shop local and support small businesses,” Martinez said. “I’m here for whatever you need. My staff is available, and we’re just here to help.”
Latchaw thinks the nonprofit could make a difference in continuing to help define the identity of the area. His first course of action is engaging with residents and business owners to get feedback on what the community could look like.
“I think part of creating a good sense of place is having those voices feel heard, and having a shared sense of place,” Latchaw said. “And I think the only way to really do that is to make sure they’re heard.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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