San Antonio is adding yet another urban living project in the downtown area, but this time a significant number of units will be designated for students.
The project, located at the old Birdsong Peanut Factory site on S. Frio on the near West Side, will have 98 lofts., with 30-50 percent of them for student housing.
The official groundbreaking on Wednesday marked the beginning of a 19,000 square foot facility. Mayor Julián Castro, who has pushed for urban living and has said this is the "decade of downtown," said he was surprised by a peanut factory in San Antonio.
The City of San Antonio’s Inner City Reinvestment/Infill Policy for several years has focused on reinvesting in neighborhoods, businesses and properties, particularly in urban areas that have gone untouched for decades.
Center City, a city department with the goal of developing and revitalizing neighborhoods, businesses and cultural resources in the Inner City Reinvestment Zone, is taking a hard look at West Commerce Street.
Director Lori Houston said it’s an area that was once full of life, but now lacks shops, restaurants and other businesses to cater to a myriad of people.
On tree-canopied streets and blocks in San Antonio’s center, the sounds of old-fashioned ice cream trucks and children playing mingle with the sounds of urban traffic from nearby downtown. This is where residents have begun restoring old homes – and communities.
"We just really wanted to be in Dignowity Hill and fell in love," said Michele Jacob, who is one of those new homeowners. "When we walked in here and I saw these floors, I just thought, 'You can't even find the long-leaf pine.' You know, we have views of the Tower and the Tower Life Building."
"The goal is to really create a vibrant, walkable, livable downtown area," said Tom Kennely of UTSA's Institute of Economic Development, who could be talking about any city in the United States, or even San Antonio.
Located on Hwy. 87 east of San Antonio, La Vernia is a community of about 1,000. UTSA is working with the City of La Vernia to bring people back to the community's downtown area, and the university also offers business development and community development for 79 counties from its San Antonio office.
Members of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group lined the steps of San Antonio City Hall Monday to demand a public vote on the use of the vacant land adjacent to the historic bridge. The group wants a park in the open space, not a brewery.