SAN ANTONIO — The amount of green space at Hemisfair grew Thursday, marking a significant step forward in the redevelopment of the inner-city civic park.
For the proposed redevelopment to move forward, Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. officials needed to swap land within the area — designating new space for the park and using some of the existing park space for mixed-use development. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill granting authority to the council that allows the land swap under specific conditions.
Namely, the size of the park needed to grow.
Under measures it approved Thursday, the City Council grew the size of HemisFair from 14.97 acres to 18.47 acres, but the amount of open space actually grew more than that. Of the 15 acres currently designated as HemisFair Park, about 8 acres aren’t useable parkland. Much of that is covered by the Convention Center.
Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras said the action will “facilitate the creation of a world-class civic park … surrounded by a vibrant, 24-7 mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood, which is in line with the goals of SA2020.”
Bill Shown, vice president of HPARC’s board of directors, told the council that without the “clarity” bestowed from Thursday’s approval, the redevelopment could not proceed.
“This is a red-letter day for us. As mundane as an ordinance dedicating parkland may seem, it’s big for us,” he said. Shown said this was the first step and that “it’s very likely” there would be more than the initial 18.47 acres for open space.
HPARC CEO Andres Andújar said that besides funding for redevelopment, there will be mix-use development with ground-floor tenants — like restaurants, cafes and retail — that is expected to draw San Antonians to the park.
The progress Thursday wasn’t without opposition, however. Critics claim the land is sacred space for indigenous clans, and, alternatively, the nearly 18.5 acres of dedicated parkland isn’t enough.
BY JOSH BAUGH – MYSA.COM