A rendering of the planned conversion of the landmark Veramendi-Clegg and Book buildings into hotel and retail space along East Houston and Soledad streets. Credit: Courtesy/Clayton & Little

The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) has advanced a project that will turn a cluster of historic buildings at East Houston and Soledad streets into space for hotel rooms and retail.

The commission on Wednesday granted a certificate of appropriateness to Soledad House LLC for repairs and modifications at the Book, Veramendi-Clegg, Kennedy, and Solo Serve buildings. Soledad House is affiliated with Austin company AMS Commercial Real Estate.

Approval was given by unanimous vote on the commission’s consent agenda.

The structures, located at 130 and 134 Soledad St. and at 140 E. Houston St., will collectively be restored to accommodate 83 hotel rooms and 96,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, according to a project case file reviewed by City staffers.

Built in 1906 and featuring large, arched windows, the Book Building was among the first structures to house businesses with frontage along the San Antonio River before the River Walk was developed.

The project file stated that the Book Building will be retrofitted to house guest rooms, and retail space, including river-level food and beverage service.

“While a series of remodels over the last 112 years have removed much of the historic interior of the building, the exterior remains largely intact and will be restored with the existing windows repaired or reconstructed,” states a preliminary plan summary provided by local architectural firm Clayton and Little.

Built in 1922, the former Solo Serve building in the late 1940s underwent major renovations and expansions that included three adjacent structures.

Those structures were razed in 2017 to make way for the Hampton Inn and Suites/Home2 Suites by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk, which is nearly completed.

The original store building remains and will house guest rooms and street-level food and beverage space facing the courtyard of the nearby Clegg building.

The Veramendi-Clegg Building, built in 1910, underwent an addition in 1926. The structure, currently undergoing historic registration, will be repurposed to house guest rooms and retail, food, and beverage space.

The Kennedy Building has housed numerous businesses during its 138 years of existence. This structure will house guest rooms, street-level food and beverage space, and storage components.

City staff recommended approval of the project with stipulations that the developer come back with a complete site plan and plans for architectural lighting and signage.

Staff also recommended an archaeological investigation of any below-ground impacts associated with new building and utility construction.

A phone call seeking comment from Clayton and Little was not returned.

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.