Billboards throughout Tarrant County lead to website with his proposed plans to revitalize the aging corridors of South and Central Haltom City
HALTOM CITY, TX, November 28, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — Ron Sturgeon started his first business in Haltom City 50 years ago. It was one of many successful ventures which have landed him in a position as a successful business and real estate entrepreneur. A few weeks ago, he announced an initiative to revitalize South and Central Haltom City by working to make Haltom City the most friendly city for business in Tarrant County.
To bring attention to the initiative and give it momentum, he put his message on billboards throughout Tarrant County and posted his plan at the MakeHaltomCityThriveAgain.com website. On the website, Sturgeon explains his motives and gives details of a proposed plan for the city. The site also includes a series of videos that cover aspects of the initiative.
Sturgeon is direct in his contention that the city needs new leadership. He says, “I believe the city has lost its identity and lost its way.” He believes that regulations and other issues restrict existing businesses from expanding and prevent new businesses from opening, especially in the southern and central parts of the city. He believes that Haltom City will need to roll out the welcome mat and make its value proposition better than surrounding cities to bring back businesses lost and change its reputation with realtors and businesses as being so business unfriendly.
As a result, he says, there are numerous vacant buildings and many undeveloped lots in South and Central Haltom City. Even though Sturgeon has more than 1000 commercial tenants in the Tarrant County area, he has very few in Haltom City because he says the rents in Haltom city are some of the lowest in Tarrant County and the persistently low rents prevent investors from wanting to build in Haltom City. He also believes that after buildings are built or rehabilitated that the restrictions and hardships for occupying them amplify the lack of interest in the city by investors or businesses. “I believe that several hundred million dollars in private capital are needed to make the corridors vibrant again, and public funds aren’t a viable option.” He adds, “but the city can make big incentives to attract this capital and businesses by making it easier for those parties.”
The other reason for so many vacant properties is Haltom City’s reputation for being a city that is hard to do business with. Commercial real estate brokers don’t show space in Haltom City, except as a last resort, because they say it’s too hard for prospective small business tenants to get certificates of occupancy.
Sturgeon encountered the buzzsaw of regulations when he tried to open a new business in Haltom City in 2019, so he understands why so few businesses try to open here. He says Haltom City Council requires most businesses to obtain a conditional use permit (CUP) before they can open. Getting a CUP takes several months and involves three public hearings and a lot of paperwork and expense just to find out what the conditions of the permit will be. Most small businesses, Sturgeon insists, can’t or won’t endure that process. “Owners of these startups vote with their feet and their wallet; they just go a mile in any direction to the cities around Haltom City,” he adds.
One of the changes Sturgeon wants to make to bring business back is to modify the city’s use matrix and make other changes in city codes such that the City Council doesn’t have to approve so many new businesses. “Until Haltom City makes its value proposition better than those of surrounding cities, it will continue the downward spiral, attracting fewer businesses and residents,” he says. His written plan is on his website and Facebook page.
He hopes to see the city create zones, especially in the south and central parts of Haltom City and along NE 28th St. with more relaxed codes and guidelines so more businesses can open in all the boarded-up buildings in these areas.
He would also like to see a grocery store in that part of town, but he is quick to point out that no major grocery store is going to come to declining corridors with boarded up buildings. However, a few years of bringing in one or two small businesses a week, and the corridors can thrive once again with traffic and commerce.
Recently, CVS closed its underperforming drugstore on Denton Highway. Not long after, Fire Cup Coffee closed, which was a blow to the corner as it was a much-touted new local business. “The reality is that Haltom City has a lower demographic than surrounding cities, and its population is actually falling,” said Joe Palmer, Communications Director for Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA). “It’s hard for a pioneering new business to come to a declining corridor as one of the first innovators, but much easier to go to North Richland Hills or even Ft. Worth on a thriving corridor,” he adds.
“Haltom City can come back because it has a great opportunity with so many new people coming to Tarrant County every week,” said Palmer. “The key is becoming business friendly and starting to bring the small businesses back to Haltom City’s main corridors, one at a time,” adds Palmer. He also says that more businesses will lower the tax burden for residents, a worthwhile goal.
Sturgeon formed HUBA in the city over a year ago hoping to open a dialogue with the city about necessary changes. Unfortunately, the city has made it clear that it feels that those business owners who don’t live in the city should not have a seat at the table and should not be allowed to influence zoning and other matters.
Sturgeon believes this is a big disconnect and likely the main factor in the decline of the business community over the last two decades. His new initiative hopes to see new councilmembers elected who are pro-business and very interested in restoring the south and central parts of the city.
City leaders have openly stated that they are focused on the north side of the city where there is more room for development and it is in fact doing very well, but Sturgeon believes there is plenty of room and time to work on improving the south and central parts of Haltom City at the same time by bringing all the stakeholders together. Sturgeon’s believes efforts to revitalize the declining areas should happen concurrent with efforts to the north, and especially since his proposals don’t require any public capital.
After Sturgeon started his first business and Haltom City over 50 years ago, he raised his family in Skyline Mobile Home Park on the north side of the city and many of his businesses are still in Haltom City in the southern part of the city, so he drives through the Central and Southern parts of the city regularly. He also owns several other businesses in the city, and a commercial business park. He is quick to point out that he has no conflicts of interest. He says, “My detractors all keep saying that I am just a millionaire trying to “buy” the city, so I’ve decided that I should talk about my successes and my desire to give back and make Haltom City better. If I weren’t championing these changes, it would be more of the status quo, and this topic would be ignored.”
“Current councilmembers all live in the northern part of the city so don’t really see all the vacant buildings and understand the need for revitalization,” Sturgeon says. Sturgeon would also like to see more diversity in the council because 47% of the city’s population is Hispanic, but there is no Hispanic representation on the current Haltom City Council.
The initiative is supported by the webpage MakeHaltomCityThriveAgain.com, and a Facebook with the same name, where Sturgeon lays out a written plan for revitalization of the city and includes a series of videos outlining the plan’s steps in more detail. Last year, Sturgeon wrote and published a book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities: The Critical Role Small Businesses Play in Bringing Back Jobs and Prosperity. The first edition has nearly sold out and is available on Amazon, and Sturgeon states that many of the books were ordered by city council members and other city officials throughout the United States because of the many five-star reviews of the book.
The second edition of the book, with 5 new chapters outlining all he has learned over the last year, will be out at end of 2022. Sturgeon is actively looking for candidates to run for city council and mayor who are business friendly and love their city. He expects it will take several years to get new leadership in place, leaving his legacy – a Haltom City that is the most business friendly city in Tarrant County.
About Make Haltom City Thrive Again
The Make Haltom City Thrive Again website offers information and resources about its purpose and goals. For more on Sturgeon’s personal ideas and background, check out his book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities and watch the videos on his Facebook page. Ron is also the founder of the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) which represents existing business interests in Haltom City and promotes growth of diverse businesses as well. HUBA is not a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. If/when Ron endorses candidates, he will do so on his own with the Make Haltom City Thrive Again organization.
For the original version of this press release, please visit 24-7PressRelease.com here