The Maverick Building at 400 East Houston Street. Photo by Scott Ball.
The Maverick Building at 400 East Houston Street. Photo by Scott Ball.

The Maverick Building on East Houston Street, one of the oldest buildings in downtown San Antonio, is undergoing renovations to become one of the first “affordable” residential complexes in the urban core by 2016.

For those with tight budgets, the 86 units will be market rate workforce apartments. Definitive rates have not been set and design is still in flux, but designers and owners promise to provide a more affordable option for downtown living to attract Millennials.

The nine-story building was first constructed as an office building in 1922. During that time the first floor served as a retail space and a barbershop and a cafeteria occupied the basement. A new owner purchased the Maverick Building in 1996 and converted the building from office space to low-income housing.

During the fourth Build San Antonio Green SA Next Lecture Series, which focuses on San Antonio’s urban core, the project’s architect Jonathan Card of Urbanist Design said the Maverick Building will have two street-level retail spaces and one large retail space in the basement.

The Maverick Building's lobby. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
The Maverick Building apartments’ lobby. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

In order to make room for more apartment units, the owner at the time inserted an additional floor to the double-height retail space on the first floor. The current owners of the building, David Adelman, principal of AREA Real Estate, and architect David Lake, principal of Lake/Flato Architects, will remove most of that floor to restore the structure to its original state.

The lobby was left mostly untouched during the change of ownership in 1996 and includes original tile and marble. The building’s corridors feature original mosaic tile, and doors and windows throughout the building were not altered.

The 86-unit building will have 17 or 18 unit variations because of the nature of the original office-space floor plan, and more than 40 of the units are efficiency spaces that occupy less than 300 sq. ft. The other units will be one- or two-bedroom apartments.

Urbanist Design Founder and Architect Jonathan Card.
Urbanist Design Founder and Architect Jonathan Card.

Parking will not be provided for residents.

“It’s a little bit of an experiment to see how San Antonio will absorb that,” Card said.

Card said the building will be sustainable, not only by the standard definition of sustainability that includes the quality, source and longevity of materials, but by the hours the building will be in operation. He said he, along with the owners, plan for the Maverick Building to be active and used for 18 hours of the day.

Today, the ground floor retail space is vacant except for a small dive bar.

“The most sustainable building is the one that is already built,” Card said, adding that the building will undergo some sustainability improvements, including energy-saving window films, LED fixtures, and new toilets and faucets.

Even though the building was built as one of the city’s first office towers, Card said it was active during the night and day.

“I think for me the most exciting part of this project is bringing an active corner back to life on Houston Street,” Card said. The building is located in the thick of downtown at the corner of Presa and Houston streets, within walking distance of the River Walk, Alamo and Majestic Theatre.

A fifth-floor hallway in the Maverick Building. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
A fifth-floor hallway in the Maverick Building. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

He said his goal is to build affordable residences in a downtown that becomes responsive to greater residential density.

“The thing that we need to do is, we need as many roofs and as many keys as quickly as we can within the downtown area,” he said. “With keys, with bodies, with roofs, with people, will come the amenities, will come the retail, will come the other opportunities that will attract that next wave of people.”

Councilmember Ron Nirenberg (D8) said San Antonio, right now, is a place for incredible opportunity.

“When I think about San Antonio, I think about the fact that our community today is building a city,” he said. “It’s a very rare opportunity.”

*Featured/top image: The Maverick Building at 400 East Houston Street. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....