Downtown San Antonio is constantly on the move, and for residents of Alteza Above the Grand Hyatt the future is bright. This week, the San Antonio Express highlighted new downtown designations that will support the continued revitalization and the expansion of Hemisfair. With less than 20 residences remaining at Alteza, the timing is right for savvy investors who recognize that future projects mentioned in the article will be subject to higher construction and development costs. Here’s the article in its entirety:
San Antonio Express, October 15, 2016
A historic district designation for San Antonio’s central downtown will not create any new regulatory strictures. It will, however, make available to downtown property owners state and federal tax credits that could equal 45 percent of most renovation costs.
This is why the city’s application for this designation with the National Register of Historic Places is a vitally important pursuit — one that, if achieved, could accomplish more to address the decay afflicting some downtown buildings and revitalize other parts of the area than all the city has done to date.
Nearly 200 historic buildings and other structures could be affected. Among these are the Tower Life Building, the Hilton Palacio del Rio and the Light building, which a local partnership is under contract to buy from Hearst, the parent corporation for the San Antonio Express-News.
We know: Anytime the term “historic district” is applied, property owners envision added hurdles for renovation or demolition. But Shanon Shea Miller, the city’s director of the Office of Historic Preservation, explains that this simply isn’t so. If downtown property owners don’t use the tax credits, they won’t have to clear their renovation projects through the Texas Historical Commission and the National Park Service.
Parts of downtown are already deemed historic, or are in the River Improvement Overlay District or in the city’s downtown design guide. Projects in these areas already go through the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission. If future developers don’t use the tax credits, they won’t have to take those extra state and federal steps for their projects.
Webner explained that developers with big projects are the most likely to use the tax credits. And the extra layers of process can indeed mean extra renovation costs because of state and federal requirements. But because the tax credits cover nearly half of most renovation costs, the developers will come out ahead.
Downtown is on the cusp of major change with a city/state master plan in the works for Alamo Plaza and developments at Hemisfair.
The city has made subsidies available to developers with downtown projects and has pressured owners of vacant buildings to maintain them. The addition of this designation — along with those other transformative projects — could mean a nearly complete revitalization of downtown if property owners take advantage of tax credits to spruce up or remake their buildings.
This is a good — and exciting — move by the city.