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Oct. 23, 2012

Fort Worth Housing Authority to Develop 18 Affordable Housing Units

By Keith Loria, Contributing Writer

Fort Worth, Texas—The Fort Worth Housing Authority is restoring a historic building located east of downtown Fort Worth and combining it with new construction to create 18 affordable housing units to be called the Knights of Pythias Lofts.

The two-story former Knights of Pythias building will be transformed into eight affordable-housing units, while a new building next door at the 2.3-acre site at Second and Crump streets will add an additional 10 units.

“The construction has already began and the uniqueness of this project is that it’s a combination of new construction with the renovation of the historic building,” Brain Dennison, Fort Worth Housing Authority’s vice president development & asset management, tells MHN. “It’s really going to blend right in with everything going on in the area now.”

The $2.4 million project is being financed with a $700,000 federal Housing and Urban Development block grant awarded through the city and a loan from Houston-based CommunityBank of Texas.

The housing authority bought the property from a partnership of Townsite Co., a Fort Worth real estate development firm, and Elk River Investments in Denton, which had owned it since 2007. After plans to turn the site into condos fell through, the housing authority swept in to take control of the 87-year-old building.

“The neighborhood is one that is extremely established and a good blend of affordable and market-rate multifamily [communities],” Dennison says. “This particular site and building was kind of the eyesore because it had been vacant for so many years. We started meeting with community groups and the neighbors, who wanted us to do something with it.”

The Knights of Pythias Lofts will consist of 14 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units, ranging from 550 to 950 square feet. The design of the new building will compliment the historic design of the Knights of Pythias building.

“The units will have an open floor and be equipped with all of the latest modern amenities, Energy Star appliances and all the typical things you would find in any new complex,” Dennison says. “To go along with that, somewhat of a green space with a courtyard in it.”

The Fort Worth Housing Authority is also hoping to redevelop the vacant 11-story Hunter Plaza public housing property at West First and Burnett streets downtown into 164 units with retail space on the first floor.

That planned $25 million project is currently being reviewed by HUD, which wants the housing authority to return some public housing units to the mix of affordable and market-rent units.

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