Two historic sites on San Antonio’s West Side got early Christmas presents this year when a city panel approved funding for major upgrades.
Board members for the Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) approved resolutions at a recent meeting that granted $6.6 million for renovations and improvements to Market Square and $3.5 million for repairs to the Guadalupe Theater.
TIRZ funds come from the city’s tax increment financing program, which uses a portion of an area’s tax dollars to subsidize development or improvement projects.
Market Square, at 514 W. Commerce St., is a popular downtown cultural, shopping and dining destination established in the 1890s.
It is home to several locally owned restaurants, including Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery, the Farmer’s Market and El Mercado Shops, the Centro de Artes art gallery, and is the site for events and festivals throughout the year.
In the last three years, the city has spent $3.4 million on repairs to roofing, the parking deck and other areas within the market.
During the development of the 2022 bond, City Council asked that funding for improvements to several city facilities be shifted to various TIRZ funds throughout the city, all of which have been approved.
“When this was originally brought to Council and the idea to defer this to the Westside TIRZ, I was a bit hesitant given the available funds within the Westside TIRZ,” said Councilwoman Teri Castillo (D5), who chairs the TIRZ board in her district. “But ultimately, given that this is a city facility, I think it’s important and a responsibility that we have to invest in upkeeping that.”
The biggest share of funds allocated by the TIRZ for Market Square will go toward the Farmer’s Market building, which is in need of a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system at an estimated cost of $3.4 million.
Another $2.6 million will be spent to upgrade public areas, including the façade and plaza, and the lighting and shade structures.
Almost $100,000 of the total project budget will be spent on public art, according to the resolution approved by the TIRZ.
The design work will begin after City Council signs off on the contract award, according to a city spokeswoman.
Funding directed at the Guadalupe Theater will be used to fix critical safety and sanitary conditions within the 80-year-old theater owned by the City of San Antonio since the 1970s.
The theater is the center of the West Side Cultural District, recognized as such last year by the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Built in 1942, the theater once showed Mexican cinema films and hosted amateur performances. It’s now host to dance performances, other cultural programming and private events.
The theater is one in a complex of buildings offering arts programming at 723 S. Brazos St., is part of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
The center has held a long-term lease on the theater since 1980, the same year it last underwent a major renovation after laying dormant for 10 years prior.
In July 2021, the city conducted a building assessment that revealed the building’s systems were rated in the poor-to-failing range.
“We have some stage lights that we can’t find bulb replacements for anymore because they just don’t make them anymore,” said Christina Balli, executive director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.