South End Lofts, as seen from West Peden Alley. Photo by Adrian Ramirez.

It?s not just anywhere where one can wake up to a cork ceiling that was, decades ago, used to keep meat carcasses from spoiling. Sleepy-eyed, I would step from my bed onto the unpolished concrete floor, pass by the white, uneven concrete walls, and walk into the kitchen to make myself a few cups of coffee. So began my day at Blue Star Lofts.

This former meat freezer would have been a hard sell for the most talented of real estate agents anywhere else. No dishwasher: check. No storage: check. This place forced me to get creative (and quick to wash dishes). But this place is located at Blue Star, what many consider the epicenter of creativity in San Antonio. The loft?s amenities, or lack thereof, were an afterthought when the culture of the area is a marriage of art, food, and elixirs. I couldn?t have been happier.

A model loft apartment in Blue Star Lofts. Photo courtesy of Robey Architecture.
A model Blue Star Loft aparment. Photo courtesy of Robey Architecture.

Appalled at what I paid in rent, friends from other neighborhoods never understood my “quality of life” rationalization until they visited and saw that on any given night, I could step outside of my apartment and walk twenty feet to 1919 and Joe Blue?s to meet up with neighbors, “Cheers“-style.

Anali Barrera in her "zen spot," the rock steps crossing the San Antonio River. Courtesy photo.
Anali Barrera in her “zen spot,” a rock bridge on the San Antonio River. Courtesy photo.

Artists, musicians, architects, oil-and-gas guys; my neighbors were an interesting concoction of people.

Sometimes on the walk over, I could make a pit stop at Cinnabar for an art exhibit, usually running into friends and following up with dinner, a decision usually difficult to make given the plethora of area restaurants (Liberty Bar, La Tuna, Blue Star Brewery, Tito’s, Hot Joy, and more).

I?d take my skeptical friends to my Zen spot on the river: a rocky makeshift bridge where I?d go sit and think, surrounded by water and ducks. Dog-walking, bicycles, a walk to Halcyon for coffee. As a friend of mine said, “I feel like I?ve arrived to the mothership.” Quality of life, indeed.

Blue Star Lofts exterior. Photo courtesy of Robey Architecture.
Blue Star Lofts exterior. Photo courtesy of Robey Architecture.

So when my sister told me she was leaving downtown?s Vistana and found a two-bedroom condo at South End Lofts – two blocks down from Blue Star (see top image) – I decided to make the move, as we?d been talking about living together and I?d be a mere two blocks away from “the mothership.”

A scale in Anali Barrera's loft dates back to the building's occupation by a lumber distributor. Photo by Anali Barrera.
A scale in Anali Barrera’s South End Loft dates back to the building’s occupation by a lumber distributor. Photo by Anali Barrera.

Also in keeping with the area?s reused spirit, South End Lofts was originally a chandelier parts manufacturer and a lumber company distribution center. Architects kept details particular to the original building, such as the massive scale in the middle of my living room that once weighed packages more than 1000 pounds; I now look at it as a sort of functional installation art piece. White, exposed brick walls, a dream kitchen (dishwasher included), concrete floors, and an open living space: I?m obsessed.

While an art gallery isn?t 10 feet from my loft anymore, life is much the same. I still get on my bike on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and ride to Feast for some “Eggs from Hell” and mimosas, only to continue the day surrounded by dogs and fellow beer lovers at The Friendly Spot.

First ThursdayFirst Friday, and Second Saturday are still almost literally outside my door, whereas they were literally outside my door at Blue Star. The lifestyle changes are miniscule. The most important thing is that my neighborhood and culture never changed. And that is exactly why I?ve never been happier.

*Featured/top image: South End Lofts, as seen from West Peden Alley. Photo by Adrian Ramirez.

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Anali Barrera

Anali Barrera studied philosophy and communications at the University of Texas at San Antonio. So long as her day consists of drawing, playing the cello, writing, or a Spurs game, she feels fulfilled....