Hemisfair scrapped plans with two local companies San Antonio Brewing Company and Revolucion Coffee + Juice to lease the park’s OK Bar building and Koehler House, respectively, and is now accepting applications from new tenants interested in activating the historic structures.

Park officials are looking for locally-owned “restaurants, bars, cafés, bakeries, bookstores, craft shops and other retail uses, with park goer enjoyment as the focus,” stated a Monday evening news release from Hemisfair.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21 and Hemisfair staff will provide a pre-submittal presentation and building tour for potential applicants on Monday, July 25, at 9:30 a.m. at The Magik Theatre. Click here to download the request for interest package and here to visit Hemisfair’s website about the submittal process.

(Note: The date and time of the meeting have been updated.)

A selection team will begin tenant interviews and background research Aug. 22-30, and will notify applicants of next steps on Aug. 31.

The structures sit inside the only public playground, or “playscape,” north of César Chávez Boulevard in downtown. Yanaguana Park hosts an average of 8,000 visitors a week, according to Hemisfair, totaling more than 365,000 visitors since it opened in October.

“In addition to the amenities and traffic generators within walking distance of Yanaguana Garden, the properties enjoy the added bonus of nearby public transportation options, public parking and ease of access for patrons and business owners alike,” according to Hemisfair’s request for interest (RFI) information packet.

Instead of fixed, monthly rent, the three-year leases with Hemisfair Park Redevelopment Corporation – the nonprofit in charge of construction, administration and management of Hemisfair – require businesses to pay a single-digit percentage of revenue to Hemsifair for reinvestment into park operations and maintenance. Details of the contracts are confidential.

Director of Real Estate at Hemisfair Omar Gonzales anticipates his presentation moments before he is called. Photo by Scott Ball.
Director of Real Estate at Hemisfair Omar Gonzales anticipates his presentation moments before he is called to speak at PechaKucha 22 hosted at Yanaguana Gardens. Photo by Scott Ball.

This arrangement balances Hemisfair’s need to raise funds to sustain the park and the businesses’ need for some leeway as they establish local businesses in spaces that have sat dormant for years, Hemisfair Director of Real Estate Omar Gonzalez told the Rivard Report on Tuesday.

“We call it the virtuous cycle,” Gonzalez said, “the more people come to their businesses, the more people come to the park, and the more money we have for maintenance and programming to create a cool experience downtown.” Which will attract more customers.

It’s too early to tell how much revenue the four buildings will generate, but Gonzalez ballparks it at $25,000 per year. “It’s not a huge, but enough that you could really create more activation” with programming, he said, and the “virtuous cycle” could easily double that number.

Since announcing the first tenants last year, Yanaguana opened to the public and Hemisfair added two small parking lots off Martinez and South Alamo streets. Prospective tenants no longer have to imagine the opportunity, Gonzalez said, they can see it live.

The late 19th century structures were designated as State Archeological Landmarks in the 1980s and were recently renovated with 2012 Municipal Bond funds.

San Antonio B- Cycle and Paleteria San Antonio have already set up shop in the Pereida House and Con Safos Cocina Fruteria y Bar will move into the Espinoza House later this year. The OK Bar building on the corner of East César E. Chávez Boulevard and South Alamo Street is now home to a pop-up shop, Indigo Makers Collective, and will host other shops until Hemisfair finds a new tenant.

The adjacent eight-acre Civic Park, Hemsifair’s centerpiece park, is behind schedule, but portions of the park will be done in time to host the San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebrations in 2018. After the parties, Hemisfair will again close to complete the final phases of the park by 2020.

The Espinoza House.  Photo by Scott Ball.
Con Safos Cocina Fruteria y Bar will soon move into the Espinoza House in Hemisfair. Photo by Scott Ball.

Top image: The Koehler House. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...