Rendering of the future building. Courtesy image.

The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) unanimously approved a new five-story, 25-unit mixed-use development at the Blue Star Arts Complex that should be completed by fall of next year.

Alamo Architects Associate Principal Jim Bailey said once the project received conceptual approval, he and his staff went back to the drawing board and “buttoned up the design, picked the final paint colors, and spent a great deal of time negotiating with the (San Antonio) River Authority about low impact design features.”

Some of the low impact design features include an upgrade to the existing storm drainage swale, water treatment methods for the drainage of the dumpster area, and routing various drains so that the water can be filtered before entering the storm system.

A man walks by 125 Blue Star. Photo by Scott Ball.
A man walks by 125 Blue Star, most of which will be demolished to make way for a new housing development. Photo by Scott Ball.

The property will be surrounded with South Texas and Hill Country plants that can survive without being watered regularly.

Bailey said the building’s riverfront location in Southtown makes it a structure that’s “destined to be iconic.”

The Blue Star Arts Complex is home to the Blue Star Contemporary Arts Museum and various other art galleries, restaurants, bars, and offices.

The project includes demolishing the southernmost building, Building 125, of the complex next to the railroad tracks to make way for the 6,500 sq. ft. of commercial space on the ground floor and 19 partially-underground parking spaces for residents.

Visitors often enter Blue Star through the back entrance, next to Building 125, because parking is easier to find as compared to the front entrance on South Alamo Street.

At an HDRC meeting in May, the San Antonio Conservation Society spoke against the demolition, stating the building to be demolished is “unique among the railway architecture remaining in San Antonio.” Although Blue Star is on the National Register of Historic Places, City staff stated in its recommendations that Building 125 had “fallen into disrepair and … become structurally unsound.”

Along with the Conservation Society, two residents who lived in Building 125 opposed demolition because they didn’t want to be forced out of their homes. In May, Blue Star owner and developer James Lifshutz said the resident’s leases will end long before construction begins.

No one signed up to speak against the project on Wednesday.

Read more about the project here.

*Featured/top image: A rendering of the new Blue Star Complex housing complex. Courtesy image. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....