Farming Hemphill Heights or Finding the Next Fairmount

Hemphill

Over lunch last week, I discussed my recent post on the premium price of housing stock in Fairmount with Karly Johnston — yes, that Karly Johnston, named by Fort Worth Magazine as one of Fort Worth’s most beautiful women, creator of one of the most followed lifestyle/real estate websites in the city, Selling the Fort, and savvy real estate professional.

“Fairmount has priced itself pretty much out of the starter home category,” I said. “What’s the next coming thing?” I asked.

“I’ve lately been farming Hemphill Heights,” she chirped.

“Farming?”

“Realtor speak for exploring, investigating, developing,” she explained.

Hemphill Heights

To most Fort Worthers, Hemphill Street, a broad avenue that runs south from town to Interstate-20, conjures up images of large dinosaurs either boarded  up or subdivided into cheap apartments and drug houses.

Hemphill

Yet the William Reeves house at 2200 Hemphill, built in 1908 for the founder of First Fort Worth Bank and Trust, attests to a grander past. Think Gaston Avenue in Dallas. And investors are beginning to nibble. Developer David Motheral Jr. and longtime Realtor Joan Kline, both credited with leading the creation of what turned into Fort Worth South, are trying to duplicate the success of the near south side as chair and co-chair of the Hemphill Corridor Task Force. The city has also pledged support in the form of money for infrastructure upgrades and an urban urban village plan for the area.

“Hemphill is what’s next,” said Motheral “We’ve done West Magnolia; we’ve done West Rosedale; we’ve done South Main.” Rising prices in those locations are making lower priced Hemphill, more attractive.

Hemphill Heights

Hemphill Heights is a neighborhood south of Ryan Place, roughly bounded by Hemphill Street and West Berry Street. Granted, a lot of the area is a bit rough around the edges, to be generous. However there is a large stock of just the sort of Craftsman bungalows and larger, quirky, but noble turn-of-the-century houses embraced by younger buyers. Add into the mix a sprinkling of warehouses and commercial buildings ripe for residential conversion or boutique businesses, and you have the perfect ingredients for a lively bohemian enclave. At $100 per square foot, Hemphill Heights it is about half the price of Fairmount.

Hemphill Heights

Exploring the area, I saw a familiar sign — 6th Avenue Homes with a “sold” sign beneath. When the bright young things of Fort Worth — Karly Johnston  and the 6th Avenue boys — Jamie Ice and Jimmy Williams — are singing from the same hymn sheet, you can be certain you have identified a strong trend.

Hemphill Heights

In the nine months since I first wrote about 6th Avenue Homes, the company has flourished and grown into a firm of 11, excluding contractors, and morphed into a full-fledged real estate development firm with a recently hired admin to handle the accelerating commission requests from social media. I contacted their lead agent, Joey Turner, who only got his real estate license in November to head the newly forming sales force in December. Joey is completing a renovation on his second Hemphill Heights house.

“Has 6th Avenue Homes done a project here?” I ask.

“Not yet. We are watching it. It’s just not ripe yet for a flip. Long term, it’s great,” he explains, though they would naturally undertake a renovation here for a client.

“I couldn’t find a house for sale to look at,” I mention.

“Houses here, sell mostly by word of mouth. My previous house sold in one day,” Turner adds.

Hemphill Heights

In other words, the area is under-the-radar hot. His new place is a four square that had been subdivided and was — there’s no other way to put it — a crack house. Jimmy Williams, 6th Avenue principle, knew it well in his day job role with the Fort Worth Police Department. The house was in danger of being razed. Joey Turner took it on in the middle of a half-completed rehab. The sagging roof was shored up and the pier and beam foundation was leveled.

Hemphill Heights

Space has been maximized in the original master bath with a large shower stall. Mixed smooth tile and rustic wood meet — a 6th Avenue signature.

Hemphill Heights

Exposed shiplap has been left raw throughout the house. Original hardwoods have been refinished but left with character nicks accumulated over eighty years. Dividing walls have been removed to create an open concept in the living/dining area. Renovation should be completed in a few weeks.

“Hemphill Heights is about where Fairmount was five years ago,” says Turner. “I’m eager for all of this to be over and moving my family in here,” he says looking to the future.

“With all of the money being poured into the south side, and the demand for in-town housing, the area has only one direction to go,” says Johnston.

I’m betting that’s up.

Eric Prokesh is an interior designer whose work has appeared on HGTV, and in books and publications including D Home, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, and House and Garden. In January 2005, HG named Eric one of the 50 tastemakers in America and D Home has included him as one of Dallas’ Best Designers for 10 years. Having lived most of his life in Dallas, he now calls Fort Worth home and is one of our experts on beautiful Fort Worth Dirt.

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