City Council voted 10-1 Thursday to adopt a new version of an Alamo Plan, kick-starting a seven-year-long redevelopment effort that stalled last year.
The vote means the City will amend a 2018 agreement between the City and Texas General Land Office (GLO) governing the future of the Alamo and Alamo Plaza. That paves the way for another round of designs for Alamo Plaza, with City officials planning to seek required permits for a new plaza design by the end of 2021.
“We need to get the plaza under construction,” Assistant City Manager Lori Houston told council members Thursday. “We don’t want to waste any more time. We have 2017 bond dollars that we want to spend, and we feel like we have a very good plan.”
The vote ends the uncertainty over the future of the Alamo redevelopment in the wake of a September vote by the Texas Historical Commission not to move the Cenotaph, a 1930s-era monument to Alamo defenders, from its central place in Alamo Plaza. The commission’s vote stalled the project planned since 2014 involving the City, Texas General Land Office, and Alamo Trust, the site’s nonprofit steward.
The new version of the lease would leave the Cenotaph where it stands. It would also keep Alamo Plaza at its current grade and keep it open to the public, with popular Fiesta parade routes still allowed to pass through the site.
Uncertainty remains over the future of a museum planned for the site. Under the new agreement, the City would lease a portion of the Alamo Plaza parcel to the GLO only if Alamo Trust can find funding for a museum. The museum also would have to repurpose the Woolworth and Crockett buildings on Alamo Plaza for the City to lease the additional space.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who was the lone “no” vote Thursday, expressed doubt that the museum would actually happen. He highlighted a lack of firm funding committed from the State and Alamo Trust for the museum, something originally planned for the $450 million redevelopment. Several wealthy philanthropists tasked with raising up to $200 million for the museum left the project last year following the Cenotaph vote.
“With no assurances that a museum will even be built, the size and scope of this project is no longer $450 million, it’s much less,” said Treviño, formerly the City’s longest-serving elected official on the Alamo Plan before Mayor Ron Nirenberg replaced him earlier this year with Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3).
Treviño tried to delay Thursday’s vote, calling many of the measures in the amended lease a “bad deal for the City.” Councilman Clayton Perry (D10) seconded Treviño’s motion to delay, saying he wanted more time to review the document. That motion failed, with only Treviño and Perry voting to delay.
Perry then voted with nine other council members to amend the lease and move the project ahead. Perry, who voted no on the original Alamo Plan in 2018, said his main concerns related to moving Cenotaph and leaving the plaza open for the public and parades had been addressed in the new lease.
Many of the details about the exhibitions on Alamo Plaza remain to be worked out over the summer. City officials plan to spend May through July discussing an interpretive plan that would cover the site’s 300-year history. The focus would extend from its time as a Spanish colonial mission, the Texas Revolution and 1836 Battle of the Alamo, and the era of independent Texas though modern times that brought urbanizations and struggles for increasing civil rights.