A $165 million high-rise development with apartments, retail and a boutique hotel is on its way to the key downtown intersection of Alamo and Market streets as part of a multimillion-dollar overhaul of Hemisfair.
The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit that manages the park, is entering negotiations with local developers Zachry Hospitality and NRP Group for a 5.5-acre project at the northwest corner of the park that would include 380 apartments, a 200-room boutique hotel, 800 public parking spaces, 75,000 square feet of retail space and 70,000 square feet of office space.
The development would take the place of a decades-old portion of the Convention Center that’s being torn down as part of a $325 million renovation. It’s the second private development announced for Hemisfair: In January, the City Council approved a 163-unit apartment complex at the park’s southwest corner by local developer Area Real Estate. Last fall, the park unveiled the $8 million Yanaguana Garden play area.
It’s also the latest in a long list of downtown projects that have been announced in recent weeks, including a 10-story upscale apartment building, a 21-story hotel and condo tower, a 30-story apartment tower and a 24-story Hilton hotel.
“It’s exciting to see that great momentum,” said District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, whose district includes Hemisfair. “The city, put simply, has been helping by creating that environment” with infrastructure improvements and incentive programs.
The development, which officials hope will be done by 2020, also marks a noteworthy partnership between two major forces in San Antonio development: NRP Group, which specializes in urban housing such as the Cevallos Lofts in Southtown, and Zachry Corp., which has been involved in some of the area’s largest construction projects, including the renovations of the Convention Center and the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Eleven groups applied to build on the site, and the HPARC narrowed the list to four. Apart from NRP Group and Zachry, the final four included local BC Lynd Hospitality, which restored the St. Anthony Hotel; the Cambridge Holdings real estate firm in Dallas; and Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies US. HPARC then appointed a panel of experts that unanimously picked NRP and Zachry, said Andres Andujar, CEO of HPARC. The panel included Austin architect Larry Speck and Bruce Petersen, executive managing director of investments at USAA Real Estate Co.
NRP and Zachry are a good choice because they are “well-capitalized” and have an understanding of the local market, Andujar said.
He declined to say how much Zachry and NRP have proposed to pay to lease the land, which the city recently handed over to Hemisfair Park Public Facilities Corp., a nonprofit governed by City Council members. HPARC, which has an 11-member board appointed by the council, plans to use the rent to maintain and continue developing Hemisfair, with a goal of making the park self-sustaining.
A map provided by HPARC shows the development with several buildings around Civic Park, an event lawn that will replace part of the demolished Convention Center. It will include high-rise buildings, but their height hasn’t been determined, Andujar said.
Ten percent of the apartments will be “workforce housing” — priced at more affordable rents for lower-income tenants — while the rest will be market rate, Andujar said. The developers will apply for incentives under the city’s Center City Housing Incentive Policy for the residential part of the project, he said.
Any development agreement will be subject to approval by the City Council, which is expected to vote on the plan near the end of this year, officials said.
HPARC hopes to recruit local businesses for the development’s retail space. It’s still working on moving in four local businesses in Yanaguana Garden, including a brewery, a paleta joint, a restaurant, and a coffee and juice bar. The business were supposed to move into renovated historic buildings by the new year, but the permitting process has taken longer than expected, officials said. They hope to have them open by summer.
The intersection of Alamo and Market streets is the busiest pedestrian crossing in San Antonio, officials said, thanks in large part to its proximity to the Convention Center, the River Walk, the Alamo and mega hotels such as the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. One of the city’s goals is to lure more local residents to work, live and spend money downtown.
“We have 14,500 hotel rooms downtown, and we have a goal of bringing 10,000 housing units downtown — we are trying to catch up,” Andujar said. With more people living downtown, “you will have a more honest, energized, 24/7 kind of a downtown.”
Zachry spokeswoman Tara Snowden said the company couldn’t comment during negotiations but that it is “confident this public-private partnership will create San Antonio’s next great area to live, work and play.”
NRP Group agreed in a statement from Dan Markson, vice president of development, who said the project will “establish a dynamic mixed-use community in the heart of downtown San Antonio.”
NRP will develop the residential portion of the project, while Zachry focuses on the hotel, office and retail areas, Andujar said.
The Civic Park lawn area next to the development is due to open in 2018, Andujar said. It will include a lawn, a garden, a wading pool and an amphitheater capable of holding 12,000 concertgoers.
Richard Webner, San Antonio Express News