A preliminary rendering of the Alameda Theater which sits along the San Pedro Creek Culture Park.
A rendering shows the Alameda Theater which sits along the San Pedro Creek Culture Park. Credit: Courtesy / Overland Partners - Martinez + Johnson Architecture

After months of planning, the final design for the historic Alameda Theater is set.

The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) approved an application for various Alameda Theater renovations on Wednesday. Because the Alameda Theater is a local and state historical landmark, HDRC must approve all changes made to the structure. The conceptual design for the theater was presented earlier in the spring

Washington, D.C.-based firm OTJ Architects designed the theater renovations, while local firm Seventh Generation Design, Inc. is preparing tax credit documents and helped with historical reviews. OTJ architect Ben Lagatan said there will be minor adjustments to the theater’s exterior, such as reorienting main entry doors to ensure accessibility and meet current codes.

“As far as the exterior is concerned, we’re maintaining pretty much 98 percent of the exterior,” he said. “Everything else on the facade is being restored or updated. We’re restoring the marquee, we’re restoring the lights at the blade sign, we’re restoring the windows, and we’re even restoring the highly decorative terrazo on the sidewalk.”

The interior of the Alameda Theater will receive an extensive facelift. The approved design includes rehabilitating the decorative finishes in the lobby and on the stairs, expanding the theater box office, and restoring paint. Architects also plan to have approximately 1,000 seats within the theater itself.

“We are putting forth a design that allows for a more modern appropriateness for the patrons of the theater,” Latagan said. “We’re reorienting the orchestra level seats, allowing for a more modern size and size of seats. And on the balcony level we are also allowing for a better size aisle, so patrons are more comfortable at the balcony.”

Trey Jacobson, Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s former chief of staff who now works at the Office of the City Manager, added that the project involved taking a historic movie theater and redeveloping it into a performing arts venue. That meant taking into account acoustics, lighting, creating a space that could accommodate traveling performances, and other details in the design.

“It took a lot of work from a lot of different consultants for a final design,” he said. 

The City owns the Alameda Theater property, while the Alameda Theater Conservancy will manage the programming. The theater renovations will coincide with that of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park next door.

“it’s part of that regeneration of that area of downtown,” said Pam Carpenter, principal of Seventh Generation Design, Inc.

Construction on Alameda Theater is expected to start early next year, and finish in the spring of 2021. Texas Public Radio’s new headquarters also will be housed at the theater.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.