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Local developer AREA Real Estate has been selected to build the first residential units at Hemisfair, the multi-million dollar overhaul of San Antonio’s largest urban park and the site of the 1968 World’s Fair.

In the public-private partnership, AREA Real Estate would enter a 45-year ground lease and build 163 mixed-income residential units, a 418-space parking garage — including 238 public spaces — and 3,200 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor.

In return, Hemisfair, the nonprofit that runs the park and oversees its redevelopment, receives $155,000 annually from the ground lease beginning in 2018 to be used to fund the park’s maintenance and programming.

The recommendation of AREA Real Estate, headed by David Adelman, is tentatively scheduled for City Council consideration on Jan. 14.

“The great opportunity really is that the park is the amenity,” said Adelman, who estimates the project to cost $25 million. “In an effort to really meet these sorts of goals for workforce housing, we’re not loading the building up with a lot of amenities. It’s public amenities that will enable us to keep our costs down.”

The apartment building will be located on 1.1 acres abutting to the east the newly-opened Yanaguana Garden, a playground area for kids and adults, on the southwest quadrant of the park.

“One of our goals is to eventually have the density that existed in the neighborhood pre-1968,” said Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar, referring to the multi-ethnic neighborhood that was mostly leveled for the 1968 World’s Fair.

“Another benefit to residents next to the park is that they provide eyes on the park so there’s a built-in security system.”

Fifty percent of the units will be rented out at 80 percent of the Bexar County area median income, while the rest of the units will be market-rate priced.

Adelman co-developed the 1221 Broadway apartment complex near the Pearl and owns a handful of other holdings along the San Antonio River.

Benjamin Olivo, San Antonio Express News