Two historic neighborhoods in Fort Worth are about to get a major economic boost.
The city announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Main Street America for a three-year revitalization program in Historic Northside and Polytechnic.
Economic development leaders representing the two districts will receive training to help transform these historic commercial corridors. The national program helps major metros across the country revitalize communities with potential for economic growth; Fort Worth is the first city in Texas to partner with Main Street America.
The announcement means Northside and Polytechnic will benefit from up to $270,000 in grants and access to Main Street America’s national network. Both corridors will receive funding to hire full-time staff who can implement the economic development strategy.
“It’s going to give us training as economic development people on how to use best practices based on what’s been done in other cities,” said Stacy Marshall, president and CEO of Southeast Fort Worth, Inc.
Development of Northside will alleviate pressure and the growing need for revitalization between the Stockyards and future development on Panther Island, just north of downtown.
“I think it’s going to further a lot of efforts that have been talked about in the past but at that time didn’t have the necessary support structure of funding,” said City Council member Carlos Flores. “With getting support for this, it opens up possibilities. I think it’s a good time for alignment of this program with what’s going on near the Northside area. We have the Stockyards, and Panther Island is getting funding to continue flood control work. All these are positives. The area in between them is in need of revitalization and investment in both the neighborhood and commercial sense.”
Efforts in the corridor will be led by the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been very effective in their efforts,” Flores said. “They’re gonna be very helpful with ties to the business community and that community has ties to the local neighborhood. It could possibly lead to the formation of a non-profit organization similar to Southside Inc. that can help us with redevelopment of that area with the investment of the area.”
Historic Northside will maintain preservation of buildings and community while growing the city’s Hispanic business hub and creating a walkable district.
“We have been neighbors to Northside for several decades,” said Anette Landeros, president and CEO of the Hispanic chamber. “Prior to me being at the chamber, it was always kind of a big dream to help with the economic development of Northside specifically. The city committing, making that partnership with Main Street America and providing seed funding is truly the game changer that allows us to bring that vision to fruition.”
Support for the North Main business corridor will allow for a variety of businesses, including restaurants and retail, to grow while maintaining the rich historic Latino culture of Northside, Landeros said.
Efforts at Polytechnic will be led by Southeast Fort Worth Inc. with support from Texas Wesleyan University. Prior to winning support from Main Street America and the city, Polytechnic raised $75,000 to support the program.
“It is a game-changer for us,” said Marshall, who leads Southeast Fort Worth Inc. “It has given us a real unique opportunity to have considerable resources behind the efforts we’ve been putting forth for the last 22 years. To get that recognition to show that we do have a beautiful side on the east side of Fort Worth and all the potential that Main Street is going to bring in terms of development, it’s amazing. We are really excited.”
Main Street America has previously supported coordination in major metros Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore and Orlando.
The Main Street Pilot program will allow the city of Fort Worth to further its development goals through the Full-Strength Fort Worth revitalization strategy. The effort focuses on establishing economic success that is equitable across the city. The pilot program will work alongside other initiatives such as CDFI Friendly Fort Worth.
“This Main Street pilot program is an important tent-pole initiative under the city’s Full-Strength Fort Worth revitalization strategy, and reflects Fort Worth’s commitment to equitable economic vitality across all of our city’s communities, “ said Robert Sturns, director of economic development for the city. “That commitment was outlined in the 2022 update of our Economic Development Strategic Plan, and it’s critical to the overall success of our city. Ultimately, equitable economic vitality starts at the neighborhood level – specifically, on the strength of our historic small business corridors – to make sure they’re set up for success and future investment.”
Main Street’s ultimate goal is to establish long-term organizational stability so the program can one day extend to other major historic corridors in Fort Worth. Main Street communities previously generated $95 billion in local reinvestment, opened 160,000 net new businesses, produced more than 700,000 new jobs and rehabilitated 314,000 buildings, according to the organization.
“The city of Fort Worth shares the core of values of Main Street America that everyone deserves access to a vibrant commercial district,” said Dionne Baux, Main Street’s vice president of urban development. “Main Street America is excited to directly engage with city’s diverse population to be engaged with the development of their neighborhood corridors through opportunities to serve as volunteers, leaders and entrepreneurs.”