Fort Worth’s housing is changing, as apartment projects outpace single-family homes

·3 min read
Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com

The pace of apartment construction is outpacing single-family home starts in Fort Worth, where the housing shortage has pushed rents and prices to record highs.

The number of multifamily permits is up 50% in the past five years, according to the city’s Development Services Department. The city approved 685 multifamily permits through July, more than it did in all of 2021.

While apartment projects can run into opposition in established neighborhoods, members of the City Council said all types of housing are needed in Fort Worth, which ranked third in population growth among the nation’s biggest cities in 2021.

Corporate relocations are expected to put more strain on the housing market, according to a report by the commercial real estate firm Institutional Property Advisors.

The number of apartment units has matched or exceeded the number of single-family homes three of the past four years. That has caused concern among some residents and council members that the complexes will overwhelm neighborhoods, though the city’s long-term plan calls for dense housing near job centers, like AllianceTexas.

Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens said she wouldn’t want an apartment building in her 61-lot neighborhood in east Fort Worth, but said the city’s zoning process allows residents to voice their concerns and make sure development doesn’t ruin what she called the spirit of the city’s neighborhoods.

Multifamily development is always easier to do, said former city council member Cary Moon, who advocated pairing apartments with commercial development during his time in office. In his first years he pushed to rezone lots in Woodhaven and Carter Riverside from multifamily to single family.

Council member Elizabeth Beck said there’s been a change in priorities. Some residents prefer dense apartment living to more suburban single-family houses, she said.

She noted the rising cost of borrowing and argued that the council should focus on creating enough housing for residents as well as those who are considering a move to the city.

“It’s also our job to make sure we balance that, and that we are allowing growth, but protecting and maintaining the unique characters of our individual neighborhoods,” she said.

Many residents are concerned about the city’s ability to provide adequate roads, sidewalks and streetlights to match rapid growth, said council member Michael Crain, whose district encompasses west Fort Worth, including the developments in Walsh in the Aldeo school district.

He noted the reservations of former council member Dennis Shingleton, who in December 2020 called for a pause on new apartment development in parts of far north Fort Worth due to concerns that the roads running east-west could not handle the traffic.

“We as a city have to deliver on the infrastructure to make sure that it doesn’t affect negatively any of the citizens wherever it’s being built,” Crain said.

The city allows developers to build apartments without a zoning change in areas around downtown, Lake Arlington, and along parts of Camp Bowie Boulevard south of Interstate 30.

Fort Worth’s housing market is still tight, but the inventory is the highest its been in almost two years, according to the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors. June’s median price of $363,000 combined with increased mortgage rates, have put affordability out of reach for many. Meanwhile, rent increases in Dallas-Fort Worth jumped 16% in June, outpacing every metro in the state. Prices for a two-bedroom apartment are up 35% in Fort Worth, where the occupancy rate topped 97% in March.

Construction on apartments is at a record high in the United States, according to Richardson-based RealPage Market Analytics, which said Dallas-Fort Worth ranked fourth in the number of units under construction in the first quarter of 2021.