Designers have finalized a proposal for the multimillion-dollar Alamo Plaza redevelopment that will start making its way through different ranks of authority this week. That process started with the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee meeting Monday evening where the latest preliminary project renderings were revealed.
Forthcoming meetings will feature increased security measures – including the one next Thursday in which committee members will vote on the plan – as certain groups have threatened committee members, officials said.
The plan is a culmination of more than 50 public and more than 100 stakeholder meetings since the process began in 2012, said Sue Ann Pemberton, a tri-chair of the committee, architect, and historic preservationist. The plan is aimed at reclaiming the plaza for pedestrians and telling a more reverent, complete, and accurate story of the site’s history, Pemberton told the Rivard Report earlier on Monday.
The so-called “Interpretive Plan,” based on the conceptual master plan approved by City Council last year, looks essentially the same as the proposal presented in June. But since then, designers have added two more access points to the plaza and provided further explanations to back up other design elements. Four key – and controversial – elements remain: closing portions of South Alamo and East Houston streets, redirecting Fiesta parades, moving the Alamo Cenotaph, and restricting the now-open flow of foot traffic through the plaza.
Another part of the previous proposal – what to do with the three historic buildings across from the Alamo and how to incorporate a Smithsonian-caliber museum there – is not part of the current proposal. The Alamo is seeking firms that can provide a historical assessment of the buildings, and the request for proposal for that work was released on Monday.
The citizen advisory committee will meet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in City Council chambers to hear and discuss the plan. Due to security concerns and at the committee’s request, the vote will be anonymous at first, said Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), a tri-chair of the citizen committee and a member of the Alamo Management Committee.
“We want [committee members] to be able to go home safely without being harassed,” Treviño said. The results – who voted for or against the measures – will be made public the following day.
Moving the Cenotaph has been a source of much of the plan’s controversy. Members of This Is Texas Freedom Force have been particularly aggressive when it comes to protests, Treviño said.
It’s unclear if the committee will vote for the plan as a whole or split up the different design elements and vote on them separately, he said – that will be up to committee members.
Once the committee makes it recommendation to the Management Committee, that group will in turn vote to recommend elements to the Executive Committe, comprised of Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Both have veto power for the plan.
Ultimately, however, the plan rests in the hands of City Council, which would have to approve handing over the portions of South Alamo and East Houston streets to the State in order to implement the plan. Nirenberg is slated to place that and discussion of the Alamo plan on Council’s agenda this fall.
“The site will be 24/7 accessible for everyone,” Treviño said. But while the museum is open, pedestrians will have to access the plaza through a “formal entry,” he said, rather than being able to enter from all angles like they can today. When the museum is closed, there will be six entrances to the plaza, he said.
The two museum-hour entrances that planners added will open as needed to accommodate increased traffic or special events, Treviño said.
Much of the specific programing and design is still being worked out, he said. “We can’t get stuck picking out the dishes when we’re still trying to design the house.”