Facing $10 million in repairs, Fort Worth weighs option for Southside Community Center

dfwnewsa | March 11, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Facing  million in repairs, Fort Worth weighs option for Southside Community Center

Dappled sunlight shines through the tree cover onto the Southside Community Center. The property is in need of an estimated $9.9 million in repairs. (Fort Worth Report | Cristian ArguetaSoto)
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The Southside Community Center is not currently for sale, but that could change as Fort Worth considers how to address an estimated $9.9 million in repairs.Bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, updating the kitchen and creating an additional exit are some of the needs cited in a recent condition report. On top of that, any major remodeling could trigger a need for asbestos remediation.“While we never encourage total abandonment of a building as we believe that all built buildings should have some ability to adapt to new uses,” the November 2022 report states, “with the number of challenges that this building has to bring up to a safe level of use within the standards of a city and its community centers, we believe that bringing this building to an expected level for this use would not be the best use of city funds.”

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If the property at 959 E. Rosedale St. does go on the market, at least one buyer has already expressed interest: The National Juneteenth Museum.“We want to acquire as much land as we possibly can to give us a couple of things, a) options … maybe for expansion and then b) we want to protect the interest of the neighborhood,” museum CEO Jarred Howard told the Report in a February interview. “It would not be in our best interest if we have a coffee shop owner operating in the museum, and Starbucks comes and buys the land next door, right?”

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The community center sits just one block over from the proposed site of the museum.The roughly 19,000-square-foot building is home to the Best Years Club for senior citizens and a hub of activity that also includes after-school programs and neighborhood meetings. The facility is smaller than the 28,000 square feet the city now aims for when building new community centers.“If we were to renovate it at 19,000 (square feet), we still couldn’t provide all the services that we provide at other community centers because there’s just not enough space for it,” Marilyn Marvin, interim property management director for the city, said in a call with the Report. “It would probably add … almost $6 million to get that building at 28,000 square feet.”For those reasons, Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa said, a sale is worth considering.

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“Because the city has an interest in supporting the museum project and wants it to be successful as an important effort to improve the neighborhood and elevate our city’s overall cultural profile, it seems to be in our interest to consider working with the museum toward locating their building on the community center property,” he said. However, that is nowhere near a done deal. The city requested a proposed site plan from the museum but has not received one as of this writing.“This project is undergoing further evaluation, and alternatives are being discussed,” Marvin wrote in an email to the Report. In the interim, plans for the museum and a nearby event center as well as the search for a new developer for a long-awaited mixed-use development are all marching forward.“If the city of Fort Worth ultimately decides to sell the Southside Center,” Howard said, “we certainly want to have that conversation.”

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Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.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.

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