Restaurant operator Landry’s will partner with the City of San Antonio in making millions of dollars worth of critical repairs to the Tower of the Americas, a city spokeswoman said Friday. 

The announcement comes just a week before contractor bids were due in response to a request for proposals the city issued in November, then scratched through an amendment dated Dec. 23. 

Landry’s, tower operator and lessee since 2004, plans to invest “several million dollars” in enhancements to the tower and will manage the project around ongoing operations, said Kelly Saunders, public relations manager for the Center City Development and Operations department. 

Combining the work Landry’s is planning with the scope of work the city had outlined will “bring efficiencies on cost and reduce the overall duration of any needed closure of the building,” she added. 

The city’s original request for competitive sealed proposals, posted in November, called for contractors to repair life and safety systems and stucco soffits components and replace crawl space walls at the Tower’s top house.

The scope of work also included architectural and structural repairs to the underdeck areas of the top house and to the concrete shaft, and on the interior of the top and bottom houses. The repairs are needed to fix damage caused by water leaks. 

The estimated cost of the project is $15.4 million with an additional $3 million from Landry’s.

Designed by architect O’Neil Ford, the 750-foot Tower of the Americas is the tallest observation tower in Texas. The tower was built over 18 months on the grounds of the 1968 World’s Fair at a cost of $5.2 million.

The Tower of the Americas during the HemisFair era.
The Tower of the Americas during the HemisFair era in the late 1960’s. Credit: Courtesy / UTSA Libraries Special Collections at ITC

It takes less than a minute for the three elevators to ferry passengers to the top-house observation deck and restaurant, according to a website about its history.

The need for repairs to the 54-year-old tower was identified during a study by Lundy & Franke Engineering in 2019 and funded in the 2020 bond. Previous assessments had been completed in 1990 and 2005. 

The report stated that tower components are in “relatively serviceable” condition and observations of the interior structural steel did not reveal “any real life safety issues.” 

But there are areas of corrosion and cracks in the concrete shaft that, if allowed to worsen, “may pose a threat to life safety,” the report states.

The city’s project scope, which includes concrete repair on the shaft and replacement of a guard rail, will be incorporated into a 10-year lease agreement extension with Landry’s that will be presented to council in the spring, Saunders said. 

Landry’s, a Houston-based operator of dining, hospitality and entertainment venues, has operated the tower and its rotating restaurant, Chart House, since winning the contract over Tower Foods in 2004. The company also built and operates a multisensory theater at ground level.

In 2007, the city shifted responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the towers’ elevators to Landry’s.

As with the original bid request, repair work will start in the spring with completion set for Dec. 2024. Landry’s will select the contractor and oversee the process.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.