Hillside Apartments, one of the first multi-family communities to be built in a downtown resurgence over two decades ago, will be renamed Jennings Place in honor of a business leader and a good citizen -loved who as a teenager dreamed of working in the glittering office towers of the business district, Fort Worth Housing Solutions (FWHS) has announced.
Devoyd “Dee” Jennings grew up in what was then known as “The Hill”, the neighborhoods of Rock Island Bottom and Butler Place, and was President and CEO of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce. for over 20 years. He died on July 24 at the age of 73.
Naming the 172-unit Craftsman-style community at 300 Crump St. for Jennings is a fitting tribute to a man who loved downtown Fort Worth and dedicated his career and volunteer work to shaping a better city as a whole, family members said.
âFort Worth was his home town,â said Gwen Barbee, Mr. Jennings’ wife of 41 years. âWhen he was growing up in Butler, he always told his friends to watch The Hill downtown because that was the future. He told them to believe that they could work hard, go to school, and someday work in those office buildings.
Mr. Jennings was an advocate for affordable housing and the mixed-income multi-family development strategy that has enabled Fort Worth Housing Solutions to deconcentrate poverty and increase opportunities for its residents in recent years, said the president of the FWHS, Mary-Margaret Lemons.
Most recently, Mr. Jennings served on the FWHS Advisory Committee on Butler Place to guide the future development of the former community public housing site. Butler closed in December 2020.
âDee Jennings was a true friend and collaborative leader who had the rare ability to involve everyone he met and move our community forward in unity,â said Lemons. âWe are grateful for the impact it has had on Fort Worth, and we hope anyone who sees the beautiful community of Jennings Place at the east end of downtown will stop by and reflect on the positive impact. he had on Fort Worth. “
Mr. Jennings was 6 when he moved into an apartment in Butler Place with his mother and brothers, Melvin and Jerry. Her father was deceased and Mrs. Jennings raised the three boys with the support of friends from across the community. During these years, Butler was estranged. Mr. Jennings’ childhood and adolescence revolved around the surrounding neighborhoods and IM Terrell High School, the city’s only black high school until 1957.
Mr. Jennings was a member of the 1965 IM Terrell State Championship basketball team, graduated in 1966 and a life member of the IM Terrell Alumni Association.
He attended Tarrant County College and received his BA in Marketing from Texas Wesleyan University in 1971. Mr. Jennings spent 27 years as a TXU Community Affairs Specialist and was the first black lobbyist for Texas Electric before moving to join the chamber in 2001.
âHe would be honored to be remembered in this way,â said Margaret Jennings, the mother of Mr. Jennings, who moved into the Hillside Apartments in 2019 and lives there today. âIt was a community where a lot of nice people lived. Everyone was kind to each other. We loved living here.
The Hillside Apartments were built in 1997 on 12 acres bordered by East First Street to the north, East Fourth Street to the south, Nichols Street to the east and the railway line to the west.
The site includes the historic Greater St. James Baptist Church and a former Hall of the Knights of Pythias which was renovated and opened in 2013 as an 18-unit FWHS residential community.
The property was originally funded by a partnership led by Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives Inc. The partnership secured tax credits to ensure that 60 percent of the units would be reserved for families earning less than 60 percent of the median income. of the region.
St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, FWHS ‘lead housing partner on the Stop Six Choice neighborhood initiative, developed the Hillside Apartments. It is now managed by RPM Living, an Austin-based property management services company.
The Hillside rebranding follows other efforts to honor Mr. Jennings.
Fort Worth City Council passed a resolution on September 21 renaming the city’s Business Center in honor of Mr. Jennings.