A proposed $5 million for renovations to the Sunken Garden Theater survived a City Council vote Thursday to remain on the list of 2022 municipal bond projects voters will see on the ballot in May.

The project will be part of the $272 million parks portion of the bond proposition. Voters will weigh in on five other propositions that are part of the $1.2 billion bond package.

However, the funding for the aging Sunken Garden Theater comes with a hitch.

If consensus cannot be reached between the Brackenridge Park Conservancy and area residents — including members of the River Road Neighborhood Association, who have been vocal in expressing concerns about the $62 million renovation plan — before the May election, the $5 million could be reallocated “for general park improvements in Brackenridge,” Councilman Mario Bravo (D1) announced.

City Manager Erik Walsh confirmed the compromise prior to the A session discussion.

Bravo has expressed support for public critique of the renovation plans, and called a Jan. 24 town hall meeting to listen to concerns for and against the plan, followed by a public survey and conversations with River Road residents.

During the town hall, both Bravo and Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (D2) voiced support for several options, including down-scaling the renovation plans or removing the Sunken Garden Theater renovation entirely from the bond. Both councilmen then suggested a compromise to include the funding in the bond, but make its allocation flexible and dependent on further public discourse.

In its earliest bond recommendations, city staff had recommended $25 million in city funds for renovations to the 1930s-era theater, which has fallen into disrepair and disuse.

That number was reduced to $10 million after council discussions, then to $5 million based on recommendations from a citizens’ committee tasked with making final recommendations on bond funding.

Walsh said an additional $15 million would be made up by funds from the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Midtown TIRZ board members have also voiced support for further public discussion before such funds would be approved.

Bexar County had initially proposed $25 million to match city funding, but commissioners have not made a public statement concerning the county’s contribution. The Brackenridge Park Conservancy has also promised to raise at least $12 million in funds for the renovation, changes it said would yield a return of a potential $239 million in economic impact for the city.

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...