Along streetscapes changing fast in the southwestern part of downtown San Antonio, where ongoing construction is about to transform several lots into shiny new buildings, even the old is new again.
Mike’s Downtown Garage moved two years ago into a circa-1930 former tire and truck repair shop at 331 S. Flores St. after being displaced from its original spot nearby, which is now a surface parking lot.
“It cost me a lot of money but I felt like, in the long run, it was worth it,” said Kenneth Smith, the owner of Mike’s and nine other service stations across the city.
Mike’s is a complete auto repair facility and parking lot convenient for courthouse employees and others who work in the area. While the location costs Smith $42,000 a year in property taxes, it’s good for business and a safer bet than building new, he said of the investment.
Besides, with the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project underway in his backyard, “it might be a good place for my customers to wait for an oil change,” he said.
The 42-year businessman is less sure about the impact on his business as the area becomes more populated. “We can only fix so many cars at one time,” Smith said.
But the vehicles and the foot traffic both are sure to come. Here’s more on the projects reshaping the area of South Flores, West Nueva, Santa Rosa, and Dolorosa streets in downtown San Antonio.
UTSA School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center
Construction on the University of Texas at San Antonio’s $90 million School of Data Science began in January and, when completed in summer 2022, will house seven UTSA research centers supporting cybersecurity and national security initiatives.
The facility expands UTSA’s Downtown Campus, located at 501 W. César E. Chávez Blvd.
“Fulfilling our urban serving mission at UTSA requires us to be accessible, to be visible to citizens and employers at the urban core — that is, we have to show up,” stated David Mongeau, founding director, UTSA School of Data Science. “The School of Data Science on San Pedro Creek lets us be more accessible and visible, in essence extending the reach of the Downtown Campus to the growing tech corridor downtown and the neighborhoods that surround it.”
New federal courthouse
The new federal courthouse, under construction at 214 W. Nueva St. since spring 2019, is a $144 million building that will replace the John H. Wood Jr. U.S. Courthouse, originally constructed as the United States Pavilion for the 1968 world’s fair.
When complete in spring 2022, the courthouse will have eight courtrooms and 13 chambers. It will be home to federal courts and supporting agencies, providing space needed for consolidation as well as upgraded design and security requirements, according to the General Services Administration.
Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
The corner lot at South Santa Rosa Street and East César E. Chávez Boulevard ostensibly will empty out when Bill Miller Bar-B-Q relocates its main offices and centralized kitchen to 57 acres at State Highway 151 and Old Highway 90.
County deed records show the company purchased the downtown property along San Pedro Creek in 1987 for $380,000. The land and improvements are now assessed at $7.6 million.
The company did not respond to a call requesting information about a possible future sale of the property.
San Pedro Creek Culture Park
Officials estimate the joint project between Bexar County, the city, and the San Antonio River Authority to transform a neglected creek into a linear park will have a $1.5 billion economic impact by attracting new development, including 2,100 new housing units, and increasing property values and tax revenues.
The first phase of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park was completed in May 2018. Now the second segment of Phase 1 is underway, spanning the creekway from West Houston Street to East César E. Chávez Boulevard.
Crews working on the second segment in March 2020 uncovered the architectural remains of several partly overlapping structural foundations dating to the mid-1800s. Work was halted and a public input and design process delayed the project by over a year.
But the project is full-steam-ahead on the next segment, which incorporates the federal courthouse, and on Phase 2 as well, said Monica Trevino-Ortega, public information officer for the San Antonio River Authority.
Residential development arrived in the area in a big way in late 2019, when Encore Enterprises completed a 338-unit multifamily housing project and parking garage at 326 S. Flores St.
A leasing agent said the Encore SoFlo is 90% leased. Encore is the developer behind a planned apartment building on Lower Broadway.