San Antonio City Council approved on Thursday the sale of five properties it owned in the St. Paul Square Historic District for nearly $1.76 million.

As part of the deal, the buyer also will receive up to $1.325 million to make improvements to the near-East Side area’s wayfinding, crosswalks, plazas, and pavilions.

East Commerce Realty, led by REATA Real Estate and AREA Real Estate,  started leasing the buildings from the City in 2017. That same year, it purchased several others from Zachry Corp. and embarked on an effort to bring more commerce and activity to an area that had been largely dormant for decades. Along with Sunset Station, East Commerce Realty now owns most of the buildings in St. Paul Square, which includes office and retail space.

The 271-unit Baldwin Apartment complex opened in 2018 and brought a residential element to the square and there are plans to open a biomedical incubator at the nearby Merchants Ice property on Houston Street. Another 250-unit apartment project is slated for the Friedrich complex on East Commerce.

“We plan to kickstart this growth with the rebirth of an outdoor concert venue, infusion of strong culinary and beverage operators, unique office tenants, residential expansion and private partnership development,” REATA partner Don Thomas said in a news release.

One of the five buildings, 1156 East Commerce Street, is vacant. The others currently have tenants including Smoke BBQ Brew Venue, Ash Basement Bar, Co-Founder Bar, RK Group, SA2020, San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, Medspoke, and a soon-to-open Mexican food restaurant, according to the release. The Rivard Report also leases property from REATA in the area.

Infrastructure improvements will be done in phases during the next few years, starting in 2020 with improvements to the interior courtyard off the southwest corner of Commerce and Hoefgen streets, Thomas previously told the Rivard Report.

The Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone’s board approved the incentive package in September. The zone was established in 2000 to collect the increased taxes from development in the area that included the near East Side. The board then allocates that money to other development projects and infrastructure improvements within its boundaries.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...