Southside community members, City officials, and developers celebrated the grand opening of The Kennedy at Brooks apartments Wednesday night. The 306-unit development spreads out across 12.5 acres in the Brooks mixed-use community.

The complex offers one- and two-bedroom apartments with amenities designed to match similar luxury developments throughout the city. Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) said The Kennedy ushered in change and opportunity both for the Southside and the growing Brooks community.

“I want to thank … the [complex’s developer] NRP Group for being risk-takers and believing in what we are doing on the Southside of San Antonio,” Viagran said. “We are changing the narrative of San Antonio, and this is one of those things that we are changing.”

When developers and City staff first began discussing plans for the complex, they saw it as an opportunity to bring affordable luxury apartments to the Southside. Moreover, they saw it as a catalyst for economic and community growth in the district.

The Kennedy is one of five residential developments at the former military base which was part of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) that shuttered operations after 94 years of military activity in 2011.

“At one time this place was full of the great scientists in the world, who were all doctors,” said Dan Markson, senior vice president of development for the NRP Group, referring to the work researchers did at the base when it became home to the School of Aviation Medicine in 1927 and the School of Aerospace Medicine in 1957.

“Now you return, so we’re really excited to have y’all coming back here,” Markson said.

Situated minutes away from the University of Incarnate Word’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, DPT Laboratories, and Mission Solar, the apartments house some of the new professional talent moving into the city’s Southside.

Resident Alicia Reyes-Barrientez, an assistant professor of political science at A&M-San Antonio, said proximity to the campus was a deciding factor in choosing The Kennedy.

“We didn’t want a long commute,” she said. “The university is close and it’s a hassle to commute.”

The neighboring, 43-acre park, The Greenline, will feature trails for hiking and biking, five terracing lakes, six plazas, a great lawn, picnic and play areas, pavilions, a food truck court, and connection to the Spanish-colonial Missions also situated in the district, once it is completed in 2018.

The grand opening revealed the optimism felt not only by City officials and developers, but also by residents who now view The Kennedy and the Southside as their home.

“We have dreams as residents of this place,” Barrientez said. “We’re going to stick to the South, we’re going to support our community.”

The market-priced units range in rent from $1,000 to $1,900 at $1.95 per square foot. The complex features luxury amenities such as a resort-style pool with a sundeck and hammocks, fitness center, business center, and two dog parks.

The complex’s name is a nod to Brooks’ aerospace history as well as President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, who are prominently featured in artwork throughout the development.

NRP is responsible for other local developments such as The Flats at Big Tex and Cevallos Lofts in Southtown, the Tobin Lofts at San Antonio College, and the Terrace at Haven for Hope.

Where I Live: The Kennedy at Brooks

Established in 1917, Brooks Field became Brooks Air Force Base in 1947 and in 2002 Brooks City Base, a partnership among the U.S. Air Force, the City, the State, and the Brooks Development Authority.

Celebrating its 100th birthday, Brooks City Base in June announced its name change to simply “Brooks” so as to align its name with its new identity as a mixed-use community development.

“It truly symbolizes the different purpose of these 1,300 acres than [during] the last 100 years,” said Brooks CEO Leo Gomez said in June. “It’s really about the future of San Antonio and a model for developing and redeveloping communities within San Antonio.”

Hanna Oberhofer contributed to this report.

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