Katie Burke – San Antonio Business Journal
The push for downtown development continues, and this time, it will look a lot like the Pearl. I was able to hear details about the Hemisfair Park Redevelopment plan at the CCIM luncheon I attended earlier today, where Omar Gonzalez, the director of planning, operations and development for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp., spoke about some of the plans and goals for the project. And they’re big. If and when this plan shapes up to be what many are hoping, the plan’s impact on the rest of San Antonio’s downtown environment will be enormous. Here are just a few of the project’s components:
– 19 acres of usable dedicated park land
– 2,000 residents in multifamily structures
– 3,000 parking spaces
– Concert venue
– Plazas, courtyards, art, cafes, restaurants, and shops
Gonzalez said the mantra for Hemisfair will be “no big names – no Chilis and definitely no Starbucks.” But the ultimate goal for the site will be to create an everything-for-everyone-at-anytime environment.
“It’s seven at night and this is where you’ll come,” Gonzalez said. “This will really help activate this area.”
And if the Pearl is any indication of how a new destination can change a neighborhood, Gonzalez is right. Already, HemisFair Park officials are in talks with a local multifamily developer to begin construction on a 160-unit, mixed-income multifamily complex, which will also include 3,200 square feet of commercial space, 6,500 square feet of live/work, and a parking garage for more than 400 vehicles.
Gonzalez said the entire project was designed to be multi-use, appealing to everyone from kids to seniors, but mainly to millennials. The biggest question leading the project, Gonzalez said, has been this: “How do we attract San Antonians to Hemisfair, and how do we get them to stay here?” The redevelopment corporation also is looking at bringing in a microbrewery, coffee, juice bar, among other tenants that could help answer that question. But with $400 million in public investment, Hemisfair is going to need more than a green juice to propel the area forward.
The first phase of the redevelopment — the Yanaguana Garden — will open this July, and Gonzalez said that once people see what it will bring to the city, “it will make the project more real.”
“Once the gardens open and people are able to experience it, that will only add to (the project’s momentum,” Gonzalez said. With the amount of potential this project has for changing San Antonio’s downtown dynamic, here’s to hoping he’s right.
Katie Burke covers residential and commercial real estate, retail and law firms for the paper
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