For the first time in 132 years, a parcel of land west of downtown San Antonio, where an iconic brown and white longhorn statue guards the gates, is for sale. 

The fifth-generation owners of Union Stock Yards, a former cattle market founded by a group of ranchers in 1889, put the 30-acre property on the market in September. 

It is the first sale of the property since Dr. Amos Graves, a surgeon at Santa Rosa Hospital, purchased it in 1894. At the time, San Antonio’s population numbered about 37,000 and the Bexar County Courthouse would soon be built. 

By 1950, over 1 million head of livestock a year moved through the gates of Union Stock Yards, according to a historical account on the company’s website, making it the largest cattle market in South Texas. 

But the last cattle were sold at auction in 2001, and the stockyards were converted into a commercial and industrial park that houses about 90 tenants, in the 1930s-era Exchange Building, in newer warehouses and yard space. 

No price has been set; the sales agents said they are inviting offers for what they consider a rare opportunity. 

 The Union Stock Yards property includes 30-acres of real estate just west of downtown.
The Union Stock Yards property includes 30 acres of real estate just west of downtown. Credit: Courtesy / CBRE

“This one is probably one of the largest opportunities of getting common ownership land that’s available now anywhere close to downtown, especially on the river,” said Asher Reilly, vice president, CBRE Land Services Group. “It is rare to find this proximity to any major [central business district] in the state of Texas, probably in a lot of major cities as well.”

Reilly expects a potential buyer to redevelop the property, which is situated at 1716 S. San Marcos St., west of Interstates 10 and 35, along the Apache Creek Linear Park and Greenway, and near the downtown campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio. It is zoned for industrial use and sits within the Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and is designated by the city as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone.

“We do think that the highest and best use going forward is some form of redevelopment and what that really looks like is up to whoever ultimately takes it on,” he said. 

Any demolition plans would first need to go before the Historic and Design Review Commission for approval, though no structures on the property have been designated historic. The Exchange Building was built in 1935 but the remainder of the land was filled with holding pens and ramps for the livestock. 

Before urban growth took over, the Union Stock Yards was once the first market for cattle shipped in from the range along extended trail lines. The Union Pacific rail lines that hauled cattle to and from the yards — up until truck transport began in 1930 — still cross the western edge of the property.

Reilly said he isn’t aware of another property like it that was held for so long by the same family except for ranch land. The owners of Union Stock Yards of San Antonio, who are descendants of G. Carlton Hagelstein, Jr. (1928-2018), are happy to continue owning the property if it does not sell, he said.

“They’re different sellers, they do care what happens there,” Reilly said. “They want it to be something that other generations can drive by knowing that they had involvement in that.” 

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.