Diego Bernal

AUSTIN — Special runoff elections on Feb. 17 will choose a new member of the Texas Senate and new representatives for two House districts.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday set the election date for the last three open seats in the Texas Legislature. The biggest prize is the San Antonio Senate seat that Democrat Leticia Van de Putte has held since 1999.

Diego Bernal

Tagging is a persistent problem in San Antonio and District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal talked about how he’s trying to fight it.

“We take buildings that have been tagged significantly and we offer building owner an opportunity for a free mural,” he said.

Bernal said that their technique is pretty simple.

“We’ve got artists that we have in waiting and we get the artist and the building owner together," he said. "They come up with a concept and then we pay for the paint and scaffolding and those sorts of things.”

Ryan Loyd / TPR News

Downtown San Antonio may be changing with the construction of the first office tower built there since the late 1980s.

A plan by Frost Bank, Weston Urban and the city of San Antonio is in the works in a public-private partnership to build an "iconic" office tower catty-corner to the current Frost Bank Tower on Houston Street.

In explaining the concept, Mayor Julián Castro said Thursday it's nothing but momentum that resulted in this complex deal. City leaders say that it will be cost-neutral to the taxpayers of San Antonio.

Flickr User: Brandon Watts / cc

San Antonio is a poor city by several metrics. We have below average home ownership, above average poverty. San Antonio is also a cheap city with cost of living significantly lower than other like-sized cities. But what happens when housing prices valuations start to go up?

A study being conducted by Christine Drennon, director of urban studies at Trinity University, has had early findings coming in and the results are showing several neighborhoods with ascending property values.

Ryan Loyd / TPR News

District 1 City Councilman Diego Bernal said soon the city will look at the most aggressive policy it has ever seen on empty buildings. On Friday he outlined that promise at his second State of the Center City address.

As TPR has reported, San Antonio has a downtown vacancy rate of 29 percent. That figure is 19 percent citywide, which is why Bernal said he will be introducing a bold measure to take care of empty buildings.

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