Plans to develop 41 luxury apartments above the Aztec Theatre in downtown San Antonio have been scrapped and replaced with the development of a 55-room boutique hotel. A hotel would be more profitable and create an opportunity to bring a novel edge to the city’s hotel landscape, the building’s owner said.

The decision was a financial one, local developer Samuel Panchevre said. The tax burden involved in redeveloping the historic building as a residential space was too costly and, thus, brought the two-year plan for apartments to an end.

His vision for the new upscale River Walk hotel would maintain the building’s 1920s and ’30s historic elements while equipping rooms with high-tech features.

“There’s nothing like this in San Antonio,” Panchevre said. “We don’t have limitations on what we can do. We can get small rooms, big rooms, odd shaped rooms, cool stuff, and that’s the idea that we’re looking at.”

Panchevre, who bought the building in 2014, expects conceptual renderings to be ready for Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) review in the next two months. His vision includes a seventh floor rooftop terrace and possible restaurant that would allow for catered speciality events. Local architecture firm Overland Partners will contribute to the project’s design, architecture, and engineering.

“The nightlife, the night vision, and the views that you have on the rooftop is really expansive,” Panchevre said. “You can see pretty much through the city. It’s a very usable and friendly rooftop surrounded by the scapes of the city there.”

In a market of largely branded hotels, Panchevre wants his project to stand out as something youthful and unique, with a clientele that resembles the theater’s patrons. Concertgoers could stay at the hotel after a show.

Many expected to see a new market-rate living space in downtown, as 210 Development Group had revealed plans for the multifamily units on the River Walk in 2015. The group is no longer involved in the project following the decision to redevelop as a hotel.

The Aztec Theatre first opened in 1926 and was re-opened as a music venue in 2015. The Aztec Hotel on the Riverwalk – final name pending – will join a flurry of hotel development underway in the downtown area. The Arts Residences at the Thompson Hotel will be a 20-level mixed use tower and hotel on the River Walk; an eight-story hotel along the River Walk will replace the former Solo Serve building; a 10-story Hilton Garden Inn is developing next to the Maverick Apartments; and a 24-story, 197-room Canopy by Hilton hotel at the corner of North St. Mary’s and Commerce streets is under construction.

A man walks in front of the Aztec Theatre.
The Aztec Theatre has been a live music venue since 2015. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

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