Local real estate developer David Adelman sees effective use of “parklets” in Austin and hopes to bring one to downtown San Antonio to encourage more pedestrian traffic and time spent in the heart of the city.
Adelman has proposed a parklet to be built in place of current commercial parking space outside the Burns Building downtown, located on the corner of East Houston Street and Jefferson Street.
So what is a parklet? In this case, it’s a 10-foot strip of public space that would run nearly the length of the building. It would include tables, chairs, and benches for public use as well as landscaping in fixed planters on the Jefferson Street side of the historic building located at 401 E. Houston St.
The plan must be approved by the San Antonio Historic Design and Review Commission but it already has been forwarded through the staff review stage. The commission will consider it Wednesday.
“If you go to Austin and look at Congress Avenue and the heart of downtown, you’ll see some great examples of parklets,” said Adelman, principal at AREA Real Estate whose projects include The Luxury and the new Midtown Station. “There’s some data in Austin that shows if they put a two-hour parking space on street, it on average turns over every hour-and-a-half. So you may get eight to 10 cars using it a day. But some of the parklets on Congress Avenue are seeing upwards of 500-plus people a day sitting, congregating, using those spaces. It’s so much more effective than a parking space.
“Hopefully it will set the tone and example for what’s possible in San Antonio. We’re trying to do the best work we can to set the bar.”
The plan for the parklet incorporates some suggestions that came from an advisory panel last year for Centro San Antonio’s efforts to activate Houston Street. That panel suggested prioritizing pedestrians and giving them more reasons to spend time in the area.
The staff report being forwarded to the commission found that the plan would promote a “pedestrian atmosphere along Houston Street and work to connect Travis Park with Houston Street.” Travis Park is two blocks north of the Burns Building.
The five-story Burns Building is located in the heart of San Antonio’s Tech District. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is named for Hugh Burns, who purchased the property in 1913 just before his death. It was initially used, as many other buildings in the area were, as retail clothing spaces. The old Washer Brothers store was one of its first tenants.
Rivard Report Reporter JJ Velasquez contributed to this article.