North Side’s Relationship with the Trinity River and Marine Creek

Team Members:

  • Dennis Chiessa, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture
  • Rod Hissong, Associate Professor, Public Affairs
  • Taner Ozdil, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture
  • Nazanin Ghaffari, Instructor of Planning, Planning

Title: North of the Island

For the past decades, neoliberalism has become the target of growing interest not only in political and economic debates but also in the social sciences, and urban studies. Scholars argue that in neoliberal cities, urban elites and private agencies play a fundamental role in the decision-making process; thus cities are run in business styles with entrepreneurial discourses (Harvey, 1989; Harvey, 2008). In view of this, policies are set to address capital interest instead of fulfilling citizens' needs, and municipalities role have shifted from the managers of collective goods to economic promoters within the free market logic and neoliberal philosophy, where publicprivate partnerships are a promoted form of governance and private sectors play an increasingly active role in the decision-making process.

Fort Worth, the 15th-largest city in the United States, the fifth-largest city in Texas and the fifthon the Forbes’ annual (2018) list of America’s fastest-growing cities, may be among the best examples of the traditional neo-liberal cities. Conversely, preservation of Western heritage, quality and ethnic diversity of cultural life, arts, neighborhood vitality, and preservation of historic buildings and districts are the principal values identified by Fort Worth residents to define and guide the city's future in their recent comprehensive plan (2018). Panther Island, the flagship project of Trinity River Vision Authority [TRVA], is promoted as a solution for “smart, sustainable redevelopment of our city’s core” and a transformation of a neglected industrial sector “into a vibrant riverfront neighborhood with green spaces bustling with activity and opportunities for living, employment and education.” The project extends into Marine Creek in the stockyards and Gateway Park in Riverside, both largely Hispanic neighborhoods. Panther Island will bring 20,000 people to live and work in it. Public funds are being used to provide flood protection and sustainable infrastructure improvements, the TRVA claims that there is a need for updating flood protection in the city’s near north side, along with the community’s desire for an urban waterfront and this has led them to develop the Panther Island project.

The Stockyards situated directly on top of Marine Creek, one of the largest tributaries of the Trinity River and part of the TRVA project, is also undergoing a major redevelopment. The Stockyards, once the economic engine of the city, is a major tourist attraction drawing three million visitors annually. Conversely, some of the locals have described the Stockyards as the downtown of the North Side. Yet, the economic impact of the Stockyards on the North Side is not immediately evident. Particularly when looking at socio-economic realities of the area. The North Side has a strong Mexican-American identity. It is located north of the river from Downtown and West 7th area. The river has served as a physical barrier between the NS and the rest of the city, this is very clear when looking at a figure ground of the city, which may have resulted in social, cultural, and economic isolation. The railroad and the stockyards were also undesirable as they brought unpleasant smells, noise and industrial zoning. This coupled with racist traditions further reinforced this isolation. Conversely, the North Side has historically been a welcoming job center for immigrants from Eastern Europe and Mexico.(Pate, 1994)


The central question of this research is:

How has the convergence of waterways and economic development affected the community of the North Side? In this case, we will look at TRVA’s Panther Island project as it extends into the Stockyards via Marine Creek through the perspective of public funding of private/public space.

This raises questions such as:

  1. How inclusive are public/private spaces? How inclusive of the community are the Stockyards?
  2. What was the level of community engagement on the development of these major projects.
  3. What is the environmental impact of reshaping the Trinity River and Marine Creek
  4. What is the history of Marine Creek and it’s potential as public space to the people of the NS and visitors of the Stockyards?
  5. What is the economic impact of this development on housing market in the NS?
  6. Can an island be inclusive?