The beleaguered south/central areas of Haltom City need a new approach.
HALTOM CITY, TX, December 15, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — It’s obvious to anyone who spends time in Haltom City that the older south and central neighborhoods are in a spiral of decline. A recent business census of the corridors done by a third party found a segment of Denton Highway has a 29% vacancy rate. Once thriving stores and restaurants have closed, a growing number of buildings sit empty, and crime is on the rise.
In an effort to educate citizens about the issues and encourage participation in citywide elections, Make Haltom City Thrive Again (MHCTA) has created a series of brief videos. Haltom United Business Alliance Founder Ron Sturgeon says, “It’s important that people know that there are solutions out there that other cities have implemented.”
In one video, Sturgeon focuses on obsolete parking requirements and prohibitive use codes. According to Ron, 70% of the people who talked to him about opening a business couldn’t get it done because parking didn’t meet current codes. On the issue of use codes and requirements, Roger Smeltzer Jr, Principal at Vision Commercial Real Estate, said in a recent Facebook post: “Can’t tell you how many leases and buyers I’ve had to steer away from Haltom City over unnecessary requirements not imposed by North Richland Hills or even Fort Worth.”
For parking, HUBA has recommended that Haltom do what a number of other cities have done by dramatically reducing or eliminating parking minimums in targeted areas. As acknowledged in the Concept Plan proposed to the City Council in 2021, “This concept is always concerning, but this reform could be imposed for say, 2 years, so that everyone can see the results. Everyone agrees that there are large swaths of paving that are never used. This one requirement is likely the single largest killer for new businesses.”
When it comes to Use Codes, HUBA recommends updating the use matrix to encourage business growth in targeted areas. According to Ron, current codes say that if a chainsaw dealer wants to sell sunglasses or packaged snacks by the cash register, the dealer has to get a new Certificate of Occupancy. Why? Because current code says that sunglasses and snacks aren’t part of the business’s intended purpose (chainsaws). Per the Concept Plan “Consider moving to a form-based zoning code instead of a use-based code, at least in certain areas, such as many older cities have. This change has produced dramatic results for cities such as Mansfield, TX. It’s not just for downtowns or for new development.” With form-based codes, switching uses does not trigger all the costs and delays of inspections.
Ron points out that the city does have administrative discretion to allow “accessory uses” in businesses but that city employees feel it’s safer to just say no. This might be solved if the City Manager established guidelines, remained available for ongoing guidance and encouraged employees to be proactive and business friendly. Ron adds, “Current staff is very focused on the north side of town and has made no plan to revitalize the southern and central areas. They just talk about the north side and seem immune to what citizens can see with their eyes in the declining areas.”
Finally, Ron talks about the use of shipping containers, which are increasingly being used by small businesses that need storage or extra space but are not allowed in Haltom City, even if they are screened from view, even in an industrial district. Fort Worth and many other surrounding cities allow them.
The full video series can be found on the Make Haltom City Thrive Again website video page. Be sure to check it out.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a diverse, majority working-class city located between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. Haltom City is minutes from both the DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Due to an outdated and restrictive use matrix that discourages new business and deters growth, several areas of Haltom City have seen a decline in small businesses which provided goods and services and were a significant source of jobs, including the once-thriving automotive industry. However, Haltom City can reverse this trend and should prioritize development of inner-city land and vacant buildings, particularly in the major corridors close to the city’s center. The city is financially healthy with a capable manager and staff who would like to see diverse business development occur and need the support of the City Council to make it happen.
About Make Haltom City Thrive Again
The Make Haltom City Thrive Again is a movement to return prosperity to the older parts of South and Central Haltom City by luring the small businesses that have left over the past decades back to Haltom City. A vibrant business community not only allows for greater employment and choice of goods and services, but also can ease the tax burden on residents. The movement is led by local entrepreneur and business owner Ron Sturgeon. For more on Sturgeon’s ideas and background, check out his book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities and watch the videos on his Facebook page. Ron is also the founder of the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) which represents existing business interests in Haltom City and promotes growth of diverse businesses. HUBA is not a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. If/when Ron endorses candidates, he will do so on his own via the Make Haltom City Thrive Again organization.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to give members of Haltom City’s business community an advocate and to keep those businesses informed about issues that affect them. They want to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and nurtures small business growth, including automotive businesses in the industrial districts, and bring more restaurants including breweries and eventually a major grocery store to the city. New businesses and growth in existing businesses will create a stronger tax base which will allow the city to pay its first responders wages that are competitive with surrounding cities while improving Haltom City’s facilities and infrastructure. HUBA believes that the southern and central parts of the city need a revitalization plan, to prevent further degradation in those areas, and wants that to happen before the inner-city experiences increased crime and more blight. As retail and office uses are in decline, it’s more critical than ever to attract new businesses. They believe that such a plan requires a strong relationship and support of the business community. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe Palmer at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
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