Fort Worth: Matthijs Melchiors Proposes Quonset Hut Style Techie/Artist Colony
Feature Illustration: Concept 1 of the techie/artist complex by Matthijs Melchiors.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Fort Worth (Tarrant County) — Matthijs Melchiors, the innovative architect that gave Fort Worth a shipping container micro office/retail park, convinced the Zoning Commission, against city staff’s advice, to approve a quonset hut style techie/artist colony.
Melchiors appeared before the commission June 12 to get uniform zoning on an industrial zoned lot that had a parcel zoned residential. The structure that made it residential no longer exists and the owners, Suzanne and Jerry Webb, needed the entire tract designated industrial for the type development Melchiors envisioned.
The location, 108 Cromwell Street is a little north of Sycamore Creek Golf Course in an area that is a mix of industrial and residential. The property’s north boundary abuts a railroad track.
The project site is in an old industrial neighborhood. The purple area of the site plan (upper left) is the buildable area where the quonset or barrel-shaped structures can be assembled. Courtesy: City of Fort Worth public records.
“Our intent with this is to put in a low density makerspace community,” Melchiors said. “What we’re trying to create is … a highly creative space. It’s an artistic type of endeavor, so it’s going to (include) an outdoor space for artists to do installations.”
Melchiors and the developers are working with TechFW, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch emerging technology companies. He said TechFW graduates doing robotics are looking for “cool spaces” to move into.
“Just a bare warehouse space is not something that they can bring clients to and conduct their business,” he said.
The quonset hut structures will be about 20 feet in height, Melchiors said, adding that under industrial zoning they could build to 55 feet. But they want to be considerate of the few residential neighbors that are near the property.
Concept 2 of the techie/artist complex. Courtesy: Matthijs Melchiors.
Cromwell Street is a narrow residential street that dead-ends where the project will take place. City staff objected to the project over that issue: “With the only access for the site on residential streets through a predominantly residential area, … the proposed Light Industrial zoning is not compatible at this location.”
Commissioner Wanda Conlin, however, concluded the proposal was the highest and best use available and made her motion to approve.
Melchiors, an immigrant of the Netherlands, founded Mel/Arch. He is a supporter of the Near Southside and the creator of Connex Fort Worth, 1205 Evans Ave., a novel business park built of recycled shipping containers.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.