Local developer James Lifshutz, who owns the Blue Star Arts Complex, is planning to convert an old food packaging plant on the Southside into loft apartments, contributing to the surge of development taking place throughout the area.
Local firm Alamo Architects will design the apartment complex, which would include more than 50 market-rate apartments and possibly a commercial space later on, Lifshutz said.
Conceptual plans for the project got unanimous conceptual approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission Wednesday. If the project receives final approval from HDRC in the coming months, construction would ideally begin by late summer, and the development would be finished within one year, Lifshutz said.
The seasoned developer sees this project along the “blighted stretch of Roosevelt” and similar ones in the area as bringing more opportunity and life to the neighborhood.
“[The area] is not terribly conducive to residential living nor particularly conducive to pedestrian and bike traffic,” Lifshutz said. “My hope is that my project helps re-characterize the neighborhood.”
The 59,000 sq. ft. facility, located at 2450 Roosevelt Ave., was built in 1955 as an industrial structure, according to the HDRC agenda. The property has sat vacant for more than 10 years, and is situated at the corner of Riverside Drive and Roosevelt Avenue, just east of the Mission Reach and north of Mission San José.
The development is not located within a particular neighborhood association, but Terry Ybañez, president of the neighboring Mission San José Neighborhood Association, told the San Antonio Express-News she is not against the project since it cannot be seen from the mission.
Preliminary enhancements to the building include creating covered parking and removing a portion of the existing roof to make room for a central courtyard. The design elements will continue to unfold over the next few months.
Rehabilitating the 5.4-acre property is another development project occurring on the Southside, including the $300 million Lone Star Brewery redevelopment project that will break ground this summer. Some projects in the area have received criticism and disapproval from Southside residents concerned about rising property taxes, potential noise pollution, traffic and parking, and diminishing the experience and sanctity of the Spanish-colonial Missions, World Heritage sites since 2015.
Lifshutz has already made his mark on the area with The Flats at Big Tex, a mixed-use project he worked on with the NRP Group that recently opened in Southtown. Along with the Blue Star complex, he owns 21 acres around the Hot Wells resort ruins, 3.8 acres of which he donated to Bexar County in December for its project to convert the site into a County park.
According to the Express-News, Lifshutz was eyeing one plot of land in the Hot Wells area to build single-family homes on. However, the Torres family, the parcel’s owner for 150 years, refuses to sell it.