In early 2020, the San Antonio Police Department was hunting for the right location north of downtown for a new substation. It wasn’t going well.
“We looked at over 20 sites, I believe,” said Deputy Chief Robert Blanton. “Some we would look at and like but then they were sold before we could move. Some would go up in price and would be cost-prohibitive to the budget. … Between the market impact, the costs, COVID-19 sort of putting brakes on a lot of meetings — has taken a little longer than typical.”
Finally, however, the department settled on a 2-acre spot on St. Mary’s Street. And with the location finalized and renderings complete, the construction process is slated to get underway in October, said Blanton. The substation, along with a new Park Police headquarters at Hemisfair, is expected to be complete by June 2023.
The new substation is located on the south end of the St. Mary’s Strip, near the Pearl, San Antonio College, and Brackenridge Park.
The addition of a police substation on the St. Mary’s Strip could help reduce complaints from neighboring Tobin Hill residents about late-night partiers. “If people go into the clubs and then a neighborhood right there, they commit all kinds of crimes: break into cars, throw trash in the yard, urinating all over the place,” said Paul Berry, spokesman for the city’s Public Works Department. “For many years, the residents of the neighborhood have been asking for a police substation.”
The substation will function as a base for patrol officers, property crime and crisis response investigators, and a San Antonio Fear Free Environment (SAFFE) unit, which focuses on community policing.
The majority of the approved budget for the two new stations comes from the 2017 public safety improvement bond, with a small amount coming from earlier bonds. The price tag is $18 million for the substation and $4.8 million for the Park Police headquarters.
The substation’s address will be 2020 N. St. Mary’s, bounded by Locust and Myrtle streets. A steel and concrete fence will surround the majority of the perimeter of the property, leaving gaps for a lawn and public entrance off Myrtle. The location comprises three different properties that make up about 2 acres.
The two-story, 24,000-square-foot substation will have parking for more than 110 vehicles, an outdoor courtyard, and a mechanical equipment yard. Some parts of the property will be open to the public, including a lawn with terraced seating, cut stone benches, and a VIA bus stop. The building also will include a community room.
The substation will serve the central area of the city, while the park police work city-wide.
Public Works and SAPD sought community input on the project. Residents of the area gathered at the Lions Field Adult and Senior Center last week to view renderings, discuss potential concerns, and ask questions about the project.
The opinions of residents varied but overall the group welcomed the development.
“I am all for it!” said Frederica Kushner. “We live right off Myrtle Street and we are much aware of the St. Mary’s Strip and the problems with it.”