Near Southside Fort Worth: The Renaissance of a Neighborhood

For Tom Malone at tma-cha architects, the transformation of Near Southside has been nothing short of a renaissance. When he moved his office there in 2004, drug houses were located right behind him, and some sketchy characters roamed the neighborhood, including Sometimes Crippled Willy.

One day, Crippled Willy, who utilized a single crutch to hobble up and down the sidewalks, was seen with that crutch above his head while carrying a boom box. Thus, Sometimes Crippled Willie was re-named. But really, he was a symbol for the area just south of downtown Fort Worth.

Near Southside has always been dominated by the medical establishment. And about a decade ago, Tom remembered that 5pm Friday not only marked the end of the work week, it marked the end of anyone in the area – until Monday rolled around.

It was depressed, crime-ridden, and filled with blighted properties. At the time, that wasn’t exactly a phenomenon when you looked at areas in and around downtown metropolitan areas. So what did Near Southside need? Residents.

In 2002, Tom designed the first mixed-use building in the area, and really, the first in all of Fort Worth. The mix of retail on the ground floor with apartments above had not been utilized since the 1930’s.

Travis Apts
Travis Avenue Apartments

One of the reasons for Near Southside’s predictable and steady growth was the implementation of a form-based code. This type of code – which actually won an award – offers particular design direction, including keeping areas walking-friendly, having entrances facing or near a street, and adding windows that face a street. There is also an emphasis placed on parks and plazas where people can meet, hang out and play.

As new residences are being adding, an eclectic mix of people has found their way into the neighborhood. Boutiques, restaurants, florists, jewelry makers and artisans, salons, a beer brewer and even a whiskey distillery – these are just a few of the independent, family-owned businesses in Near Southside.

When asked his favorite thing going on here, Tom says, it’s the sense of community. And since half of his portfolio is in this area, he’s met almost every business owner in Near Southside. We have a feeling Sometimes Crippled Willy might have made a beeline for the Firestone & Robertson Distillery or perhaps, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company.

Fort Construction is honored to have worked alongside Tom in a number of projects, and we look forward to partnering with him again.

For more information on Near Southside, you can visit:

For more on Tom Malone and his architecture firm, you can check out his website at