A rendering of the proposed Durango Apartments at 421 S. Presa.
This rendering shows the proposed Durango Apartments at 421 S. Presa St. Credit: Courtesy / Rhode Partners

Responding to feedback from the City’s Historic and Design Review Commission, a developer narrowed its plans for a luxury apartment tower in Southtown by decreasing the width of the building and adding a floor.

HDRC on Wednesday unanimously approved the conceptual design of the Durango Apartments, now a 13-story building.

In order to receive final approval, the City’s Office of Historic Preservation staff recommended that designers “continue to develop the proposed balconies and vertical separation elements to emphasize verticality throughout each facade.”

The current design includes several horizontal balconies, but it is still in development, said Tim Proctor, manager of Laney Development, the Wimberley-based firm planning to build the 75-unit tower. “By way of design, we’re trying to make it kind of a landmark.”

The King William Association‘s architectural advisory committee supports the project, committee member Margaret Leads told the commission, but does not agree with staff’s recommendation to emphasize vertical lines.

“Technically [the building] is now taller than it is wide,” Proctor told the Rivard Report before the meeting. “The space that we gave up in the width, we’ve added to the height.”

A rendering of the proposed Durango Apartments at 421 S. Presa.
A rendering of the proposed Durango Apartments at 421 S. Presa. Credit: Courtesy / Rhode Partners

The mixed-used development at 421 S. Presa St., currently a surface parking lot, would include 70 apartments, two townhomes, three live-work spaces, and 1,533 square feet for ground floor retail space. Rhode Partners, an Austin-based architectural firm, is working on the design.

The commission approved the first three floors and garage levels of the project in early December, but asked for a more slender tower that would reduce perceived interference with San Antonio’s skyline.

Commissioners did not take up the issue of whether the Durango would impact views of the Tower Life Building on Wednesday, but Proctor included several renderings in the application package that showed views of the historic building from several vantage points on South Alamo Street. Local regulations only protect area views of the Alamo and four other Spanish-colonial Missions on the Mission Reach, but the City is currently exploring possible rules for other iconic views in San Antonio.

If approved, the project would receive an incentive package worth more than $3 million from the City – most of it in the form of tax abatements, Proctor said.

Such incentives have since been placed on hold, as community and City Council members have questioned the need for abatements in seemingly thriving real estate markets.

Rents for an apartment in the Durango would range from around $1,400 to $5,000 per month. At about $3 per square foot, they would be among the highest price points in San Antonio.

The lot is one block west of Hemisfair’s Yanaguana Garden and its forthcoming office and housing projects, across South St. Mary’s Street from the 349-unit Agave Apartments, one block east of the River Walk, and in walking distance to the King William Historic District and H-E-B’s South Flores Market. A 30-story luxury apartment building was proposed less than one mile away next to the Tower Life Building.

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. Contact her at iris@sareport.org