Eliza Perez (left) and Imgard Ron protest the development at Hays Bridge.
Eliza Perez (left) and Imgard Ron protest the planned residential development near the Hays Street Bridge at a City Council session. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The City of San Antonio is considering stepping back its legal arguments on a case related to the empty lot next to the historic Hays Street Bridge. The Texas Supreme Court sided with bridge and neighborhood preservation advocates in a March 15 ruling.

“Though the Texas Supreme Court on Friday directed the Fourth Court of Appeals to take up the City’s remaining arguments on the case, the City of San Antonio is exploring options on how to remove those issues from consideration,” City Attorney Andy Segovia said via text on Wednesday.

Segovia was not available to elaborate. It’s unclear what that implies for the underlying legal challenge, but a City spokeswoman said it will not impact the residential development slated for the Cherry Street location.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the Rivard Report he couldn’t comment on a legal outcome, saying that’s for the attorneys and court system, but “I can tell you it’s my desire, and I believe the desire of our City, to put what has been a very difficult … conflict to rest as best we can.”

The Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group sued the City of San Antonio in 2012 to block the City’s sale of the nearly 2-acre property on the near East Side, a plot that was ultimately deeded over to a developer. The group claims the land was intended to be a park as part of the bridge restoration project, and an attorney representing the group says if it can win the underlying lawsuit, the residential development could be halted or reversed.

“It’s not our land any more, unfortunately,” Nirenberg said, so it’s unclear what will come of it. “Some of that requires other conversations. But in terms of the lawsuit, I don’t think there’s any desire to continue it – at least not on my end.”

Earlier Wednesday, District 6 Councilman and mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse  called on the City to excuse itself from the lawsuit.

“The only way to restore public trust is to drop all legal challenges, stop wasting public tax dollars and help the Restoration Group and neighboring community reclaim their landmark and public space,” Brockhouse wrote in a press release.

If elected, he pledged to “end this cycle of frivolous lawsuits,” referring to a lawsuit the City dropped in November that was challenging the constitutionality of the firefighter union contract’s 10-year evergreen clause.

But it appears the mayor and the lead challenger for his seat at least agree that the City needs to adjust its course in the Hays Street case.

In 2014, a Bexar County jury found that the City had violated the memorandum of understanding when it sold the land, but that it was never a park. Click here to download the judgment. Three years later, the Fourth Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, saying the City was immune from being sued for breach of contract. The Supreme Court disagreed and issued its decision last Friday.

Developer Mitch Meyer received approval last year from the City to build a five-story apartment complex on the land at 803 N. Cherry St.

“I am ‘full speed ahead’ and pulling permits,” Meyer said via text.

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org