On the corner of Horne Street and Diaz Avenue in Fort Worth’s Como neighborhood, a washed out brick shell of a car wash stands wrapped in red danger tape that fights to stay put in biting winds.
For years the building has been a landmark and point of reference in the community, said lifelong resident Ella Burton, who was born at a house down the street. She remembers when the car wash was fully functional — Como was one of the first underserved Black communities in the area to have such a resource, she said.
But the car wash hasn’t been fully operational since at least the mid-1980s, said Michael Lockhart, a member of the neighborhood’s Bluebird Men’s Group. What followed, neighbors said, was crime, drugs, prostitution and legions of people experiencing homelessness.
On Thursday morning, that part of Como’s story closed as residents and city officials gathered to celebrate the building’s demolition after lifelong resident Sam Harris purchased the property.
The building has long been a community eyesore, said City Council member Michael Crain, whose district includes the neighborhood.
Shatters of glass lay in some areas of the lot, and behind the building is a treasure trove of trash: old clothes, McDonald’s bags, cigarette cartons, alcohol bottles, and a tan and wood couch. Washing instructions still hang on the structure’s walls, and giant green, garbage-filled puddles sit where suds once gathered. Trash often blows into nearby yards.
Swing by the property in the late afternoon and into the night and one might see a crowd of people with bad intentions, Burton said. Crime often finds its way onto the grounds. Over the Fourth of July weekend this past summer, eight were shot near the site.
But Thursday residents celebrated the end of a chapter. A gray plastic table topped with construction hats and lined with sledge hammers sat in front of the car wash as an energetic crowd came to witness the first hits. Across the street, a DJ bumped music.
After at least 10 years of resident complaints about the site, a multitude of site owners, and pleas for someone to do something, action finally came when Harris, also with the Bluebird Men’s Group, purchased the property about two weeks ago. Harris owns the Bluebird Group, a real estate and construction company.
To see the building finally meet its end meant peace for Burton. To Lockhart, it meant fulfilling the community’s needs.
The spot could be a space for shops, a restaurant and residences as Harris and his team work with the city on next steps. But Thursday was about celebrating what will no longer be, Harris told the crowd.
After prayer and remarks, the Bluebirds — clad in white shirts that read “Como breaks the old for new” — grabbed their hammers, the smacking noise hollow as the hammers hit the bricks. An electric crowd cheered.
One man filming the neighborhood’s new slice of history shouted: “It’s a new day!”
Few could walk away without having their turn at one of the building’s columns. Residents took turns striking the structure as the pile of rubble underfoot grew bigger, some carrying away pieces of mementos.
There’s excitement. There’s relief. And Thursday in Como, there was pure, boundless joy.