“This is the first time … that we know of that we have developed a brand for downtown, so we are really excited about unveiling that to the community, ” said Centro San Antonio President and CEO Pat DiGiovanni. “This was a roughly 18-month venture. Obviously we don’t own downtown, and no one does, but this placement brand is intended to bind the community, to write the story for downtown, and we hope it will be an invitation (to the community) to help us write the story.”
The free event will take place from 7-10 p.m. and feature artists and musicians such as Volcán, Cruz Ortiz, Rob the Original, Beyond the Canvas, Bill FitzGibbons, Urban-15 Group, DJ Donnie Dee, David ‘Shek’ Vega and Nik Soupe of Los Otros, and more. There also will be food trucks offering local fare and craft beer on site, as well as giveaways.
To RSVP for the event, click here.
Centro Director of Marketing and Events Eddie Romero said that Centro teamed up with local artists to activate vacant downtown properties by installing murals on walls and other nooks and crannies around Houston Street.
“We teamed up with local artists like Los Otros, who have a mural across the street from the Majestic, and Cruz Ortiz is putting up a mural now on the window of the old Children’s Museum,” Romero said. “We are very grateful that we were able to engage these local artists – it’s for them and all of us.”
Centro also will host the 2016 Centropolitan Awards on Sept. 22, before the brand unveiling, from 5-7 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre. The awards celebrate and honor the people and businesses that constitute “The Best of Downtown.” For a list of honorees, click here.
Rosemary Kowalski, iconic San Antonio philanthropist and Chairman Emeritus of The RK Group, will receive a lifetime achievement award. Mark Penner of local men’s clothing store Penner’s will receive the same honor, but from the store.
To learn more about the Centropolitan Awards and to purchase tickets, click here.
Romero told the Rivard Report that Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) and San Antonio Economic Development Foundation President Jenna Saucedo-Herrera will give brief remarks at the brand unveiling Thursday.
“I personally asked people who were working on it to contact some of the cultural institutions within our city and certain folks, to get a better grasp on how they can better inform what they should produce,” Treviño told the Rivard Report in a phone interview. “(This helps) to get a better feel for San Antonio and see what is underneath the surface.”
Romero said that Centro conducted surveys, on-street interviews, analyzed social media chatter and trends, and more to get an idea of how people view the city and its downtown.
“With that process, we developed the foundation for the brand, identifying key audiences and also stakeholders – people that have built San Antonio – those who have made it the great place it is today,” Romero said. “… We got representation from everyone from the Spurs, to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, corporate branding entities, the Alamo Bowl, (and more).”
DiGiovanni said the downtown brand is meant to honor the city’s past, but also look toward the future. He added that San Antonio has been lauded in many ways for the River Walk, the Alamo, and the tourism economy, and that Centro wants to continue to help build that part of the economy, but the brand also will build belief among San Antonians that the city is more than just a tourist venue.
“Before you can build pride you have to build belief, and that’s what our future of the activation brand will be,” DiGiovanni said. “We believe the most compelling measurement of progress is its people and places and we are looking to improve this place called downtown so that it really reaches the entire San Antonio audience.”
DiGiovanni said he wants locals to embrace the center city and re-invite the general public to downtown so that it can be so much more than what it has been in the past. TechBloc CEO David Heard agreed on the importance of a strong urban core, especially as it can attract young professionals that can help build the economy.
“When we talk about building our economy, it’s going to be driven by tech,” he said. “In that regard we are really in a war for talent, with all the other major cities across the country. We’ve got to build a city that is attractive to that next generation of talent and jobs that accompany that talent. Beyond the job and the pay, the lifestyle decision becomes a major component and cities that are investing in strong urban cores are seeing returns. The numbers show that talent is choosing cities that hit those marks well.”
San Antonio is largely more of a sprawl, suburban experience for the workers of the city, Heard added, and that what is needed are hubs that have urban density with a lot of urban walkability.
“Let’s not turn our back on history and growth, but let’s add and enhance with urban density and revitalize downtown – a downtown that is of and for the people of san Antonio, not just to the visitors of our city,” he said. “It’s time for residents to reclaim our downtown.”
Top image: A mural by David ‘Shek’ Vega and Nik Soupe on Houston Street, across from the Majestic Theatre. Photo courtesy of Centro San Antonio.