Neighbors Gather To Hear Future Of 108-Year Old Power Plant

Jul 11, 2017

Around 100 people attended a presentation Monday night on how a nonprofit will reshape a 108-year-old power plant on the banks of the San Antonio river. The meeting, which took place at Freetail Brewery on South Presa, was filled with neighbors of the plant eager to see the project come to fruition.

The Mission Road power plant is less than a mile away from the meeting, adjacent to Roosevelt Park.

CPS Energy gave the power plant to the nonprofit EPIcenter earlier this year with the understanding that it would be converted into a hub of innovation in green energy. 

Neighbors reviewed recent EPIcenter designs that detail where the think tank, co-working space, conference center, and fabrication lab will go on the multi-building site. 

Many like King William resident Gretchen Garceau-Kragh are eager to see the old power plant get a facelift, especially needed because of how many people are now using the Mission reach trail that runs along one side of the property. 

"For the past several years its just been an eyesore sitting there by itself," says Garceau-Kragh.

Martha Henry is a board member for the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood association and read off a lists of suggestions and questions to EPIcenter staff during the question and answer session.

"I mean we're thrilled," says Henry but she does have some lingering concerns about parking and about river access on the mission reach.

"I am concerned that more properties on the river are being gated and cut off from the community," Henry says. 

Almost directly across the river from the proposed EPIcenter is the recently derailed Lonestar Brewery redevelopment, a $300 million dollar project that would have brought shops and eateries to the area, but also traffic and a rise in property values.

"It was very disappointing," says Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association president Victoria Garcia about the pause at Lonestar. Garcia says they hope that EPIcenter continues as the developers have described.

"We want to make sure that whatever development happens is mindful and doesn't go to the extreme where the people that have been living here forever can't live here anymore." 

EPIcenter executive director Kimberly Britton says she is sensitive to the concerns about property values but concedes there are things outside of the control of  EPIcenter that could result from the development.

"I think it's a matter of that dialog and making sure they know why we might want to do something or we adapt to make sure it's a liveable neighborhood for many, many years to come" says Britton.

Organizers need to raise around $53 million dollars in addition to the more than $20 million they have already raised.  

EPIcenter was formed in 2015 and was funded by OCI Solar, Landis Gyr, CPS Energy, and Silver Spring Network.