The remains of an abandoned 1950s dairy operation in Northwest San Antonio could be history now that City Council has denied it landmark status.

The Bacon-Steubing Farm, a 12-acre parcel at DeZavala Road and J.V. Bacon Parkway, had been deemed historically significant but the City Council declined to designate it a historic landmark at its March 4 meeting. 

The decision paves the way for an investor group that owns the land to demolish a decrepit barn, feed room, and milk house, and develop the property as a commercial site.

In December, the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) determined that the property is historically significant after a resident of a neighboring subdivision, Ridgehaven, submitted a request for historic designation. The Conservation Society of San Antonio also found that the buildings satisfied several criteria for historic significance.

“These farm buildings, which lie further west of the preserved Voelcker Farmstead on Buttermilk Hill, are valuable as a visible reminder of the cultural heritage of the dairy farming that once predominated in northwestern Bexar County,” stated Patti Zaiontz, Conservation Society president.

The Voelcker Farmstead and its buildings, situated near the sprawling Phil Hardberger Park, were designated a historic landmark in 2008 and in 2014 listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite conversations with the Conservation Society, Councilman Manny Pelaez, who represents District 8, where the farm is located, questions whether the Bacon-Steubing property is truly historic.

He said area homeowners were about evenly divided over whether to preserve the property, with one group believing it was worthy of protection.

“The other camp … felt that this was a good vehicle for stopping the rezoning or stopping future apartments from being built on the property, and they were very candid [in saying], ‘If this stops apartments, that’s good enough for me,’” Pelaez said. “That’s problematic because that’s not the purpose of a [historic] designation.”

The property owner has a right to develop the land, but if it’s apartments he wants to build, that isn’t appropriate, he said. It would be more suitable for a commercial development, such as a shopping center.

“I informed him that any move to designate that property as multifamily [housing] was dead on arrival anyway,” he said. “I’ve already got some very serious traffic problems and density problems in that one area.”

Without the landmark designation, no approval from HDRC is needed for demolition requests or new construction on the property.

The owner, DeZavala Ventures LLC, led by developer Darren Casey, and its attorney did not immediately respond to calls for comment or discuss future plans. In December, a sign on the property advertised pad sites for sale through Carduner Commercial.

Pelaez also noted that it appears the former farm, at one time amounting to 192 acres of pasture and now enveloped by development, is being used for criminal activity and could pose a threat to a nearby school. The interiors are littered and in major disrepair.

“From the outside, it looks like this charming little barn. But on the inside, you end up realizing this is a little crack house on the prairie,” he said. “That was alarming because I have a very serious, homeless encampment problem in my district, and it’s not getting any better.”

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Shari Biediger

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