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An Iconic Public Housing Development Comes Down In Fort Worth, Leaving Room For Change

Heavy construction machinery stands idle on a street of red brick apartment buildings.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
Cavile Place, commonly known as the Stop Six projects, is being torn down in an effort to redevelop and revitalize Fort Worth's Stop Six neighborhood.

Cavile Place — often called the Stop Six projects — was a landmark in Fort Worth's Stop Six neighborhood. It's being torn down as part of a revitalization project, but some worry that new development is just a vehicle for gentrification.

Hundreds of families used to live in the red brick apartment buildings that make up Cavile Place.

The public housing development — commonly known as the Stop Six projects — became a neighborhood landmark over its nearly 70-year history.

Today, the blocks of apartment buildings are either boarded up or stripped of everything inside. Debris piles up on the lawns inside the construction zone: broken glass, torn-out sinks, old furniture. A spokesperson for Fort Worth's housing authority said crews are clearing out the debris daily.

Other buildings have already been reduced to heaps of red brick.

Carolyn Tubbs lived at Cavile from 2018 to 2019, when it was her turn to move out so the demolition could begin. Sitting under the brick cabana that used to be a gathering place for residents, she remembers when there was life here.

"There's a park right down this street, and there used to be cars lined up, and on Sundays, different soccer teams would come and play," she said.

Not anymore.

"You don't see nothing. It just looks like a kind of ghost town," Tubbs said.

A pile of trash spreads haphazardly in front of a red brick apartment building at Cavile Place. There's what appears to be a couch, a torn out sink, an AC unit, a toilet and broken glass on a bed of other trash.
Keren Carrión
Trash piles up outside one of the apartment buildings at Cavile Place.

With the help of a $35 million federal grant, Fort Worth and the city’s housing authority have a plan to revitalize Stop Six, a long-neglected neighborhood that suffers from high unemployment and poverty rates.

Tearing down Cavile is the first step. The plan, called the Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative, includes the construction of 1,042 new housing units, at the Cavile site and elsewhere in Stop Six.

The six phases of construction will replace all 300 of Cavile's affordable units and add several hundred new ones. They will be spread throughout the new buildings, which will welcome people with a range of incomes.

The housing authority gave Cavile residents vouchers to get new apartments elsewhere during the demolition and construction process. Everyone has the option to return to the new developments if they wish.

Carolyn Tubbs stands in front of a chain link fence, holding a little fuzzy dog in a sweater. Behind her is her old apartment, in a red brick building that has been boarded up.
Keren Carrión
Carolyn Tubbs poses for a portrait in front of her old apartment building at Cavile Place, the iconic public housing development that the city of Fort Worth is in the middle of demolishing. The plan is to redevelop the site, as part of a larger effort to revitalize the Stop Six neighborhood.

Tubbs wants to move back. She plans to start a residents’ association at Cowan Place, the senior living community set to be completed in Phase I of the project. Construction on Cowan Place is scheduled to begin this spring.

Tubbs said the redevelopment will stop people from looking down on Stop Six.

“It’s not like it used to be, you know, like the stigma they used to have. It’s not going to be like that anymore,” Tubbs said. “It's gonna be like, oh, I'm glad to go out to Stop Six.”

Stop Six And Its History

In 1896, Amanda Davis bought a plot of land in an as-of-yet undeveloped area. It grew over the years into Stop Six, one of Fort Worth's historic Black neighborhoods.

Amanda Avenue, which is named after Davis, now borders Cavile Place to the west. The housing development opened in the early 1950s, to ease the problem of inadequate housing for Black families, and it became a landmark.

By 2019, though, Cavile Place was “physically obsolete” and needed $42 million in repairs.

Lachelle Goodrich is the director of the Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative, the overarching plan to revitalize the neighborhood. She said residents have already given their input on the housing designs, from the height of the buildings to the type of flooring they want.

One request has come up again and again.

“They’re like, ‘No more red bricks, no more red bricks,’” Goodrich said.

One of the project’s goals is to build beautiful, sustainable homes that people are excited to move into, Goodrich said.

Another is to bring new services to the neighborhood. That includes the Neighborhood Hub, a complex that is set to include a city library, a YMCA, a business incubator and job training center.

Goodrich envisions a Stop Six where kids have amenities that other neighborhoods already boast: a community pool, swim lessons, a bikeshare program.

“They will be afforded some of those same opportunities, if not better opportunities,” she said.

Making Stop Six A Better Place To Live — For Who?

The Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative wants to spark new investment in the neighborhood, too, but some worry that development will just push out the people they're supposed to benefit.

Rodney McIntosh used to live at Cavile Place and is now pastor of Christ The Risen King Church next door. Watching his former home get boarded up, then torn down, has been like “different stages of grieving,” he said.

“It was never a time that I pulled up to my church that I didn’t see somebody. Somebody outside, somebody moving. So now I come and it’s just rubble,” he said.

Now, McIntosh sees gentrification creeping his way.

“I would like to meet the person that said they could have built an infrastructure like they talking, build these parks and all this stuff, and being like, property values stay the same,” he said. “I just don’t believe Fort Worth or nobody else have that answer.”

McIntosh considered moving his church when Cavile shut down, but he wants stick around to see the change coming to the neighborhood. Especially the demographic change.

“I seen some Caucasian people running their dogs one morning, and I’m like, bro, this Stop Six finna be different,” he said. “That wasn’t happening back in the day.”

Michael Moore, a pastor and the president of the Historic Stop Six Neighborhood Association, said people should embrace that change.

“That no longer is a conceivable idea — that you're going to have a predominantly white community or a predominantly Black community. That day is gone,” Moore said.

Moore moved back to the neighborhood three years ago to renovate his childhood home. His neighborhood association is campaigning for others to do the same, he said.

He sees development as a way to draw more people, more money and more opportunities to the neighborhood.

Stop Six needs a grocery store, and other new businesses, he said — whether it's a chain like Starbucks or an independent store.

“Gentrification, I don't see it being as big of a problem, if we are invested in the community,” he said.

To Moore, people need to get involved and stay involved to push for the kind of development that won't price people out.

“I think that that is where we begin to ensure that the people who choose to live here are going to have a voice about how things are done here,” Moore said. “I think that's the best defense against being pushed out of your community.”

That’s what the Historic Stop Six Neighborhood Association is for. Moore helped restart the association last year, after a period of dormancy. He plans to use it to advocate for the neighborhood’s interests, and encourage others to do the same.

For Rodney McIntosh, beautifying the neighborhood sounds great, as long as the city and the housing authority prioritize the people who want to live there.

He also understands things can't stay the same forever.

"Anything that doesn't grow or change is dead, and I don't want my neighborhood to die," he said.

The construction is scheduled to continue through 2026, so it could be a while before Stop Six sees which way it's growing.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Corrected: February 3, 2021 at 2:36 PM CST
This story has been edited to clarify that Fort Worth's housing authority says crews are clearing out demolition debris from Cavile Place daily.