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Despite a number of redesign delays, the San Pedro Creek Project is on track to break ground on Phase I sometime this summer, San Antonio River Authority (SARA) officials said Thursday.
The $175 million project is expected to revitalize the two miles of San Pedro Creek and lead to new, vibrant development in the city’s urban core. SPC officials expect to break ground on Phase I construction this summer, and complete it by the City’s Tricentennial celebrations in May 2018.
“In 1716, the first explorers saw the (San Pedro Creek) the first time,” said SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott, during a SPC subcommittee meeting Thursday. In 1718, they returned to establish a presidio in present-day San Antonio.
Representatives from Bexar County, SARA, City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) and the SPC subcommittee will coordinate the event, and hope the commemoration of the city’s history and groundbreaking will be an “opportunity for the community to celebrate … and a way to kick off the Tricentennial.”
RIO 7 Overlay District
SARA recently held several public meetings, where they answered questions and collected input from property owners and area stakeholders. The input, said SARA Watershed Engineer Kerry Averyt, was used to revise the RIO 7 overlay design to create a more pedestrian-friendly area. SARA expects to submit the final design overlay to the City of San Antonio on Monday, May 16.
From there, the draft will go through the full approval process: HDRC, Zoning Commission, the Neighborhood and Livability Committee, before it is reviewed by City Council in August. Each entity review will allow for continued public feedback on what is developed parallel to the creek, as well as the potential designs and features found along the creek.
“There’s still a lot of public input that could potentially come through this process,” Scott said. “We could see people that may not have necessarily participated in the meetings before.”
Averyt said that the 70% design for Phases I and II are progressing, and that SARA is continuing to work with area stakeholders to address concerns and Right of Way procurements as needed.
SARA originally expected to receive the final 70% design on May 20, but last minute design changes along Houston to Commerce, cost considerations, as well as sustainable design and maintenance discussions between SARA and the design team pushed that date to June 17.
There are still design issues surrounding Texas Public Radio‘s plans for the Alameda Amphitheater, as well as the creek’s pedestrian footbridges, but Averyt said he was “confident that we’ll be able to regain that time and still finish the design by the end of the year.”
Bexar County Commissioners recently released funding from its budget for procurements to acquire property. There are still “a couple of properties that haven’t been acquired just yet,” Averyt said,”but we’re still meeting with the landowners.”
SARA has begun interviews with potential design firms to take on the Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) position to begin construction, and will return to Commissioner’s Court with a firm recommendation on May 17.
Art/ Cultural Development
Casa Navarro, a historic state site currently seeking national landmark status, was recently approved by the review committee, and will go through the Advisory Board for the National Park service this fall, said Jerry Geyer, co-chair of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project.”That would give us two national historic landmarks adjacent to the San Pedro Creek, after the Spanish Governor’s Palace. That (would be) a major step for us in downtown restoration and development.”
Scott also discussed the San Pedro Creek’s Public Art Program, and announced that Renee Piechocki, Jennifer McGregor and Ricaro Barreto had been named as the program’s consultants. Though the program has not determined the specific art or artists to feature along the creek, they will be looking at pieces and installations that are interchangeable, and evolve as part of the creek.
The San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) will also serve as a project stakeholder in the art program.
“We are really excited to be neighborhood stakeholders now on the project,” said SAISD Bond Communication Manager Andi Rodriguez, adding that the district was looking to create a high profile high school at Fox Tech and provide the community with a place of education that interacts with the creek. This will be a long term project that takes place over several years, but Rodriguez promised to share details as they came in.
SAISD officials are also exploring ways to integrate students with public art, she said, not just “artistically but culturally as well.”
SARA staff recently toured High Line, a New York City linear park, where they were inspired to review their art initiative and search for different opportunities to earn revenue. Consultants will visit San Antonio for the first time in June to meet with other SPC members, and begin identifying best practices seen in various art programs and organizations throughout the country that can be used for San Pedro Creek.
The program has potential to introduce new performers, programs and cultural community projects.
“It’s not going to be an art program you’ve seen on the river, it’s going to be a destination,” Scott said.
*Top Image: A rendering by Muñoz & Co. of San Pedro Creek in the downtown reach with added plantings and creekside and elevated walkways. Image courtesy of Muñoz & Co.