An update to the Arsenal and South Flores Streets phase of construction in the downtown H-E-B project, including a wider driveway into the Commander’s House property, was approved during a Thursday, June 18 Historical Design and Review Commission meeting.
The 622 S. Main Avenue location will see the transplant of an outer wall on Whitley Boulevard in order to create an entryway to the new H-E-B Arsenal campus and the Commander’s House. The driveway will be expanded to 44 feet in with, requiring the removal of approximately 65 feet of a wall running parallel to South Flores Street. Those materials will be used to build a new low wall on the northern edge of the Commander’s House property.
Bury, Inc.’s request to move the wall was one of several items, including a pedestrian walkway from the Commander’s House to the new H-E-B grocery store, new bike lanes, and the expansion of Taylor Circle. The proposed wall changes became the topic of discussion.
Cherise Bell, executive director of the King William Association, told commissioners that the KWA agreed with the staff’s recommendations for approval, but the organization opposed the reuse of materials to construct the new wall in conjunction with an existing wall. Bell cited city’s guidelines when building new elements on a historical site that discourage “false historicism.”
“Attempting to create an exact replica of historic styles for new construction blurs the distinction between new and old and makes the evolution of the historic property more difficult to interpret,” Bell read, before recommending the new fence not be built in its originally proposed northwest corner location.
Mark Johnson, principal at Bury, Inc., said the new wall, had been moved to a location parallel to South Flores, which will not touch an existing fence while retaining original materials.
The request was met with conceptual approval during the HDRC’s May 7 meeting, under certain stipulations, such as matching the older stonework patterns with similar material in a similar style, which Bury, Inc. plans on matching with scored concrete.
The motion passed unanimously. Vice-chair Guarino recused himself from the vote.
Featured/Top Image: The Commander’s House at 645 S. Main Ave. Photo courtesy of the City of San Antonio.
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