Reporting Joel Thomas
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – When Fort Worth talks about neighborhood revitalization, it often points to Magnolia Avenue in the Medical District. Its wide sidewalks are dotted with outdoor cafes. There is a lot of foot and bicycle traffic coming to the hip restaurants, businesses and bars.
But round the corner and drive up South Main Street between Magnolia and downtown and its like a different world, an area with boarded up buildings and graffiti. And honestly you probably don’t want to be out there after dark. Just ask a business owner on South Main what he sees outside as opposed to a business owner on Magnolia.
Ben Herman owns a print shop on South Main Street.
Garold LaRue owns a coffee shop on Magnolia.
“One block over has been boarded up since I’ve been here in ’97,” Herman said pointing toward a neighboring building.
“There are a lot of houses back here,” LaRue said about the older neighborhood next to Magnolia which has attracted an influx of young people buying homes. “There are more things coming in.”
“You’d have a lot of people coming up telling you they need money,” Herman said about the panhandling which he says isn’t as bad as it used to be.
“You can see down the street. It’s lit,” LaRue said. “And you can go from one point to another.”
There aren’t many places anyone would want to walk to on South Main.
“Even if a building caught on fire and they leveled it, it would be an improvement,” said Herman.
South Main Street will soon see lots of improvement — without burning down any buildings.
The changes will be what invited businesses to Magnolia several years ago like replacing bus stop benches with ornate benches and matching street lights. The street will be repaved and widened to add parking. And sidewalks will be expanded for better pedestrian access.
“It’s one of the keys to this whole street, this whole area,” LaRue said of the make over that spurred growth on Magnolia. “The lighting of the trees. The sidewalks. You allow people a way to move.”
The $8 million project comes from city, county and private money.
It’s hoped adding walkways, lighting and parking will be signs of south main street changing to a more inviting destination for businesses.
Plans are being drawn up now. The city hopes to solicit bids for the project late in 2013 or early 2014. Construction will likely take about twelve months.
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