Plans for a new restaurant near the Pearl, a memorial park bench and a 15-foot-tall sculpture were among the design requests reviewed by a city panel on Wednesday.

The Historic and Design Review Commission granted conceptual approval for all three requests without discussion, giving each the OK to proceed toward construction. 

Two of the projects were requested by the city — a memorial plaque and park bench proposed for McAllister Park on the Northeast Side and a public art piece to be installed on a traffic island in the Missions Trails Historic District. 

Oxbow Real Estate, the development arm of Silver Ventures (parent company of the Pearl), also submitted a request to approve design plans for a restaurant at Newell Avenue and East Quincy Street. 

The half-acre site is located near the former Samuel’s Glass factory, adjacent to the San Antonio River and across the street from Oxbow’s 256-unit apartment development now under construction near Elmira and Quincy streets.

Newell restaurant

Plans for the restaurant submitted by Oxbow show that the Riverside Food and Beverage project would be a 4,500-square-foot restaurant building and outdoor deck built on a pie-shaped lot overlooking the river. 

A main building of brick, metal paneling and plaster will house the kitchen and casual dining area and a separate structure will provide space for the restrooms, a service bar and an outdoor fireplace. 

The application states that designers are evaluating the use of salvaged Pearl brewery artifacts in the landscape to serve as “a visual landmark and represent the heritage of Pearl.”

Construction is expected to be complete in line with the ongoing apartment project along Elmira Street, said Omar Gonzalez, director of development at Oxbow.

In recommending approval for the project, city staff asked that Oxbow coordinate with the San Antonio River Authority about the developer’s plans for building direct access to the River Walk, the landscaping and maintenance boundaries and stormwater control measures. 

A rendering shows what the proposed restaurant will look like from Newell Street. Credit: Courtesy of Kissling Architecture
A rendering shows what the proposed restaurant will look like from Newell Street. Credit: Courtesy of Kissling Architecture

“Oxbow Development Group is committed to continue enlivening the neighborhood and bringing more amenities and places to gather,” stated Bill Shown, Oxbow Development Group CEO. 

“The addition of this riverside restaurant concept will complement other entertainment projects at Pearl and be authentic, inviting and comfortable.” 

Mission art installation

A request by the city’s Department of Arts & Culture to install public artwork at a traffic island between Mission Road and East Huff Avenue also was given the green light.  

The project application states that the painted steel outdoor sculpture by artist Ashley Perez will measure 15 feet tall, 7 feet wide and 25 feet long. It will have a concrete foundation and anti-graffiti coating. 

The existing lighting, traffic fixtures and signage on the traffic island will remain. Installation is set for December 2023. 

The sculpture will “explore themes of Indigenous heritage, culture, and history by telling an engaging story, involving the community,” states the application.

A representative of the Mission San José Neighborhood Association said the group “wholeheartedly” supports the location of the project. 

“We are very happy with how it’s parallel to the Queen of the Missions … about 200 to 300 feet from the front of the mission wall,” said Theresa Ybanez. “We love that it is going to be honoring the indigenous people of the mission.”

The city’s Arts and Culture Department will unveil the sculpture design at 10:30 a.m. on March 11, at Mission Library, 3134 Roosevelt Ave.

Memorial in the park 

Near a centuries-old oak tree in McAllister Park, the city is planning to install a protective fence and a 6-foot metal memorial bench and plaque, according to the application approved by commissioners Wednesday.

Oak tree in McAllister Park to be protected by a fence as a memorial to James Matthews, an avid cyclist and veteran who died last July. Credit: Courtesy / Laura Matthews
A city panel approved plans for protective fencing for a centuries-old oak tree in McAllister Park, along with a metal bench and plaque as a memorial to James Matthews. Credit: Courtesy / Laura Matthews

The project is intended to safeguard the tree and recognize avid cyclist and veteran James Matthews III, who died in July 2022, said his wife of 36 years, Laura Matthews.  

“We met in the early 1980s in McAllister Park,” said Matthews, who served as president of the Friends of McAllister Park for 15 years. “[It] has been a part of our lives basically forever.” 

The project’s goal is two-fold, she added: to save the tree and honor her husband. The couple often rested together beneath the shade of the old oak and always hoped to work toward protecting the tree. 

Her husband volunteered in the park nearly every day, helping to maintain trails and a wildlife water trough, another memorial in the park, before he became ill, she said.

“We’ve always enjoyed volunteering, helping other people, and we love nature and we like to give back so other people can enjoy it, too,” she said. 

The memorial plaque that will be installed along with the bench reads in part: 

“An iconic figure and friend, J.F. had deep roots in cycling and nature conservation. Despite his plans for life and retirement being cut short by cancer, J.F. continued to give so much to this city, cycling, and all who knew him.”

This article has been updated to correct the city department that requested a public art installation.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.