My City Council colleagues and I will soon vote on the Alamo Masterplan. Three words sum up the process and resulting plan since my involvement began in 2014:
Unifying. Complete. Reverential.
It is understood that individual aspects of the plan garner disagreement, but what is our system of democracy if not a practice of compromise for the greater good? In this case, that means telling the full, unabashed story encompassed within the footprint of the Alamo. This sacred space belongs to all of us – indigenous, Tejano, Texian, Defender, Texan, Mexican, and present-day citizens. Together, we are addressing the broad needs and desires of our community, all the while treating individual issues with the consideration and respect they deserve.
In our intensive search for the future of one of the most storied spaces in Texas, we stumbled upon a scarce treasure – common ground. As a member of both the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and the Alamo Management Committee, I have seen firsthand and applaud the effort of the committee members and subject matter experts in hundreds of meetings over several years. Entities with rich, decades-long traditions connected to the Alamo – the Battle of Flowers Parade, the Fiesta Flambeau Parade, the Fiesta Commission, the Texas Cavaliers, and our ever-evolving downtown – have built consensus. This process has cemented my belief that our history, the Alamo’s history, not only defines us, it unites us.
At its core, this project endeavors to tell the most complete and accurate story we can envision. In reclaiming most of the original historic footprint of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, and Alamo Battlefield, we revere and honor the countless lives the Alamo has touched. From numerous acequias that enabled life to exist in the community to the Campo Santo, a sacred space housing the remains of those who passed, our responsibility is founded on the legacy of the people who lived, worked, worshiped, fought, and died on this sacred ground. We will connect like never before to the nuanced history of the site and its stories – the Mission period, the Battle for Texas Independence, and the story of modern San Antonio’s evolution.
This is our historic and cultural legacy.
History is our greatest teacher, and our identity will be shaped by aspects of the past that we choose to honor. Traditionally, the complete story of the Alamo has not been told as generations before us have been given little or no knowledge of the complex layers of history buried beneath. The creation of a world-class museum provides an institutional tool for us to further our understanding of not only the Alamo, but ourselves and our future.
We know the historic structures of the Long Barracks and Church are degrading each and every day. The Cenotaph suffers from its age and the construction limitations of the time in which it was built. These historical icons will be dutifully preserved as we ensure their existence for generations of Texans to come. We continue to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which the Alamo exists today, restoring dignity to the ancestral burial grounds of so many who called what we now know as San Antonio home.
We, as those who inhabit this time and place, understand the importance of the Alamo, but it is incumbent upon us to ensure our history survives intact. By preserving our history, we are also investing in our present and our future. This investment makes our urban streetscape safer and more inviting, promotes adjacent businesses, and creates a more walkable and memorable environment.
Return on investment does not just apply to businesses and revenue models, but also to the value added with regard to civic and social endowments. The Alamo Masterplan will impact all of us in dramatic fashion, and San Antonio will be contributing just $38 million of the $450 million investment toward the plan. A $150 million world-class museum/visitor center will be built, and it will house Phil Collins’ $20 million Alamo artifacts collection. The private sector will be donating $250 million to restore the Alamo footprint and battlefield and build the museum/visitor center. The Hyatt Corporation is supportive of improving the site connections to the River Walk as well as looking at broader opportunities.
The total investment will include street improvements and the generation of an Alamo district that will serve to increase sales and hotel taxes by increasing the length of stay and number of visitors in San Antonio. A relocated entertainment district will aim to attract San Antonio residents to the greater downtown area more often, and an economic impact study estimates more than 5,000 new, permanent jobs will be created.
Together, we are poised to move our city forward in an incalculable way – one that guarantees the world will always Remember the Alamo.