Iris Dimmick

The City of San Antonio’s City Center Development Office will unveil the results of its South Main Avenue traffic study tonight, Wednesday, at 7 p.m. at a public meeting at SAY Sí (1518 S. Alamo St.).

The proposed closure of South Main Avenue between E. Arsenal Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard is part of H-E-B’s $100 million plan to expand its downtown headquarters by 27 acres and host about 1,600 additional employees by 2030. H-E-B has cited employee safety and campus security and the company’s need for an expanded campus in seeking the street closure.

Read More:
The Case For Keeping South Main Avenue Open by resident Michael Nye
The Case for Rethinking South Main Avenue by resident and Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard
H-E-B Briefs King William Neighbors on Expansion, Proposed Block Closure by resident and Rivard Report Co-founder Monika Maeckle.

The study, completed by a third-party contractor, comes in response to a passionate protest to the street closure by neighbors in the King William Historic District and the Southtown area. An online and paper petition has gathered 1,868 signatures combined as of Wednesday afternoon.

H-E-B headquarters looking north at the intersection of Main Avenue and Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
H-E-B headquarters looking north from South Main Avenue and East Arsenal Street. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

“What we do not need is a corporation co-opting public property in such a way that downtown becomes fragmented and even more unnavigable than it already is,” states the petition. “Our streets are our city’s circulatory system. When you cut off too many streets, you risk killing the city.”

The red line indicates the section of Main Avenue that H-E-B has requested to close in the event of opening a downtown grocery store. Map via GoogleMaps.
The red line indicates the section of South Main Avenue that H-E-B has requested to close. Map via GoogleMaps. NOTE: The Commander’s House property extends to S. Main Avenue. Click to enlarge.

Opponents also cite that pedestrian, bike and car access to the surrounding neighborhood, including the nearby Commander’s House Adult and Senior Center, will be negatively affected.

H-E-B’s master plan includes a 10,000 square foot grocery store at South Flores Street and César E. Chávez Boulevard with surrounding bike paths, street improvements, mixed use buildings and public spaces. H-E-B also has stated it will not seek the city’s $1 million incentive that was originally offered to attract bids for the downtown grocery store.

While city officials have expressed support of H-E-B’s expansion plans as a boost to the center city’s economic development towards SA2020 goals, a design compromise of some sort may be in the works as the company responds to neighborhood concerns.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that “David Lake, principal at Lake/Flato Architects, hired by H-E-B, will unveil new renderings of the grocery store design and master plan at tonight’s meeting.” A presentation of this updated master plan will not presented at tonight’s meeting, but will be presented to the King William Association’s board tomorrow. The master plan is “not a secret by any means,” said H-E-B’s Director of Public Affairs Dya Campos. “But they (KWA) won’t have time for it tonight.” A public presentation is not scheduled yet but it’s likely that one will take place very soon. 

Iris Dimmick is managing editor of the Rivard Report. Follow her on Twitter @viviris or contact her at iris@rivardreport.com.

Full disclosure: H-E-B is a sponsor and advertiser on the Rivard Report, and Director Robert Rivard is building a residence on E. Arsenal Street on a lot purchased from H-E-B several years ago.

Related Stories:

The Case For Keeping South Main Avenue Open

The Case for Rethinking South Main Avenue

H-E-B Briefs King William Neighbors on Expansion, Proposed Block Closure

The Feed: Two Guys Aim for Downtown Grocery Stores

Small Footprints, Big Impact: How to Make a Million Dollars Stretch across Center City

State of the Center City: More Housing, Fewer Vacant Buildings

Iris Dimmick

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