Renderings for the performance plaza that replace plans for an amphitheater along San Pedro Creek. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio River Authority

Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized $19.8 million for demolition and utility work along the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project‘s segment between Houston and Nueva streets, thus moving construction closer to the center of downtown San Antonio.

Commissioners also approved several design changes for that stretch, notably scrapping plans for an amphitheater behind the Alameda Theater.

“We believe that a new performance plaza, as opposed to an amphitheater, would be more flexible and provide more versatility for events that will be conducted there,” said Kerry Averyt, project manager with the San Antonio River Authority.

The River Authority is working with the City and County to transform the San Pedro Creek from a concrete-lined drainage ditch into a natural habitat and linear park. After years of planning and community input meetings, the project broke ground in September 2016.

Plans for a footbridge at the Spanish Governor’s Palace were also eliminated. Additional changes included providing more green space between the Dolorosa and Nueva Street block and widening pedestrian walkways leading from Commerce Street to the forthcoming Texas Public Radio headquarters inside the Alameda Theater.

Averyt said the changes reduce the cost of the project by more than $7 million.

Tuesday’s funding authorization set a timeline for the construction along the three-block stretch: Work will begin in January with the demolition of the Dollar General on Commerce Street and continue with excavation and civil work in March. The remainder of the construction is expected to run through the end of September.

To date, commissioners have authorized $132.7 million of the project’s total estimated cost of $175 million.

Commissioners received updates on the construction already underway in the first of four total project phases. The segment from the onset of the two-mile linear park at Fox Tech High School toward the Alameda Theater is still on track to be completed by May 5, 2018.

“It’s getting to the point where its looking a little exciting now,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said.

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.