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City Councilmember Ann Zadeh. Photo by Vishal Malhotra.

Fort Worth City Council recently approved construction of a six-story, 138-room hotel along West Magnolia Avenue despite opposition by hundreds of locals (“Looming Development,” Jan. 18). Nearly 500 individuals signed an online petition against the project. Topping the list of public concerns is the hotel’s large size and potential impact on nearby traffic and flooding.

Residents in nearby Historic Fairmount said their concerns were heard, but no design concessions were made.

The revitalization nonprofit group Near Southside Inc. has been a proponent of the $60 million project, working closely with the hotel’s backers: Fort Worth-based Bennett Benner Partners, California-based BOND Partners, and the property owners.

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Pat Bradley, president of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association, said she was shocked that City Councilmembers Ann Zadeh and Kelly Allen Gray did not recuse themselves from the January 24 vote. Both councilmembers sit on the board of Near Southside Inc.

“Ann Zadeh, I feel, turned her back on us and the Near Southside,” Bradley said. “I didn’t realize how closely [City Council and Near Southside Inc.] work together. They are one and the same. It’s very disturbing.”

Councilmember Zadeh said in an email that there was no conflict of interest when she voted to allow construction of the hotel.

“I am an ex-officio board member of” Near Southside Inc., she said, referring to her role as a non-voting member, a seat that councilmembers in District 9 have traditionally held. “My purpose for being on the board is for information only.”

The question before the council, she added, was not whether the property owner could build on his property. He could. The question was whether he would be “allowed to build a hotel.”

Councilmember Gray did not return requests for comment in time for publication.

Fairmount resident Sara Karashin said that Zadeh and Mike Brennan, Near Southside Inc.’s planning director, haven’t released projections on how the hotel will impact nearby flooding and traffic.

Brennan said a traffic study was not completed or required but that Fort Worth traffic engineer Brian Jahn worked closely with Near Southside Inc. to examine the potential impact of the hotel on traffic. Jahn did not find any cause for concern, Brennan said.

As the hotel’s final design process continues, Brennan added, the hotel developers will work with the Fort Worth Stormwater Management Department to conduct a comprehensive stormwater study.

Karashin is appreciative of the role Near Southside Inc. plays in developing the area and hosting events like Friday on the Green and ArtsGoggle. But she worries the new hotel represents a departure from the nonprofit’s traditional focus on small businesses and residents.

“I want to know Near Southside [Inc.] still represents the Near Southside,” she said.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Ah, but there already IS a Southside Stormwater Survey- dated 2-25-16 . http://fortworthtexas.gov/files/2016-02-25_SouthsideStakeholderMtg3_final_WebsiteUse.pdf . Zadeh, Brennan & Gray AND the City Assitant Director TPW “forgot ” to mention or provide it when asked. 40 glossy beautiful pages state NO IMPERVIOS surface can be constructed with out cauding serious harm to surrounding areas. Maybe they don’t think a HOtel is “impervious suface”.

  2. I felt as a resident of Fairmount, absolutely disheartened by our Council woman, Ann Zadeh, at the City Council meeting I attended. Our pleas for a continuance on hotel or not allowing all the waivers fell on deaf ears. All of us concerned with keeping Magnolia’s funky historic vibe sent emails to her there wasn’t a nod to those emails. That night after Fairmount gave a very logical presentation on flooding, traffice, the term boutique that mislabels this hotel and the absolute historic significance, all we got was a prepared speech she wrote before she ever listened to her voters! I originally voted for her because I felt she would care about her neighborhood needs and worries. That was not what I witnessed. Business interests, power and money overruled her voters. I will not make that mistake again at the ballot box.

  3. I do not live in Fairmount, but I live nearby. Having a hotel on Magnolia will help support the local restaurants that make Magnolia what it is. My guess is that the impact on Fairmount will be negligible, particularly once you get more than a block or so from the hotel. In the long term, a stronger Magnolia means a stronger Fairmount and vice versa. Finally, Councilwoman Zadeh has been an honest public servant. She cast a tough vote in front of an angry crowd knowing that there could be negative consequences. I wish we had more elected officials like her.

  4. Does so much of the new architecture spreading from downtown now to Magnolia have to be so awkward and ugly? I thought it might stop at Rosedale, but now has crossed that barrier. This building’s size and character will “fight” the existing historic structures it is going to be built between. I feel “sold out” by Near Southside, Inc. which seems to “play ball” more w/ development types than the residents that made this area popular w/ all their hard work in the first place. Who knows , it may have economic impetus for the area, but if I seek “charm” for an evening out, I’ll steer clear of Magnolia once some of these new structures are built.

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