View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.
View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA's Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

Every year, the mayor of San Antonio delivers the annual ‘United State of the City’ address, usually sponsored by several chambers of commerce. During that address, the mayor lays out the progress of the city and plans for the future. In Mayor Julián Castro’s 2014 State of the City address, one of the themes he spoke about was the changing environment of downtown, echoing his “Decade of Downtown” vision.

[Read more: Mayor Castro’s State of the ‘City on the Rise’]

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal will take that theme a step further as representative of the central downtown district and deliver his “State of the Center City” address Friday at the Briscoe Western Art Museum to a sold-out crowd.

Councilman Bernal address the crowd from within the crowd. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal addresses the crowd from within the crowd during the inaugural State of the Center City address in 2013. His nontraditional speech included musical interludes and a more conversational tone. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The second annual address, sponsored by Centro San Antonio and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, brings together business and civic leaders to focus on developments and challenges in the urban core and the surrounding neighborhoods. With so much civic and economic activity happening in the Center City, it’s not surprising that the luncheon is sold out.

“A city’s soul and economic power is its downtown,” stated Bernal in a press release. “I’m eager to share with our community what is driving positive change and improving the quality of life in our center city.”

Diego Bernal, City Council member, musician. Photo by Al Rendon.
Diego Bernal, City Council member, musician. Photo by Al Rendon.

Over the past year, Bernal has focused his attention on a variety of urban initiatives, including the planned expansion of H-E-B’s headquarters and the addition of a grocery store next to the grocery chain’s downtown headquarters.

Many attendees anticipate discussion of the planned medical school by the University of the Incarnate Word beside the Fox Tech campus on the northwest corner of downtown. Both are expected to drive more residential growth in the urban core and address the needs of nearby residents.

Another is the development of a master plan for Alamo Plaza, something Bernal feels is necessary to address current and future development in and around the plaza. An advisory council will be formed by City Council to come up with the plan to include zoning options and ways to improve the historical interpretation of one of the most visited landmarks in the city.

Though not addressed in Mayor Castro’s address, it seems unavoidable for Bernal to touch on the controversial VIA Modern Streetcar project, which is almost exclusively focused in the downtown area. Bernal has been a supporter of the project so far and helped shape the planned routes through the Center City.

[Read more: State of the Center City: More Housing, Fewer Vacant Buildings]

“It is vital that we keep our San Antonio business community informed about the economic climate and the revitalization strategies occurring in our very own metro area,” stated Ramiro Cavazos, President and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber.

Event Co-chairs for this year’s event are Trey Jacobson of Golden Steves Cohen & Gordon, Guillermo Nicolas of 3N Group, and Gisela Girard of Creative Civilization.

Related Stories:

10 Steps to Hit the Reset Button on VIA’s Modern Streetcars

Mayor Castro’s State of the ‘City on the Rise’

State of the Center City: More Housing, Fewer Vacant Buildings

Randy Bear is a 20-plus years San Antonio resident, transplanted from Little Rock to join the ranks of USAA in Information Technology. Over the last two decades, he’s been involved in a variety of civic...