The owners of an event venue and office park located in an 18-acre wooded oasis enveloped by urban sprawl in Northeast San Antonio will have new owners starting next year.
John and Mary McClung, who have owned and operated Los Patios for 22 years, have agreed to sell the property to Paul and Christine Mayer.
The purchase price for the property and nine structures built between 1968 and 1978 was not disclosed. County tax records show the property was last assessed at $2.2 million.
The current tenants occupying office space on the campus and the Fork and Garden catering business will remain, the Mayers said, and weddings will be booked. But the Mayers have a new mission in mind for the unique property situated along the Salado Creek Greenway.
Paul, an emergency room physician, and Christine, a mental health therapist, have already begun work toward converting portions of the park-like setting to serve as a partial hospitalization program for people recovering from substance abuse. They hope to open it in 2021.
The Mayers plan to launch next year Blue Heron Recovery, named for a great blue heron recently spotted while they sat by the creek. The name fits because, according to Native American tradition, the blue heron represents independence and self-determination, Christine said. But Los Patios will remain the name for the property.
“There is no better spot,” she said, for the kind of outpatient recovery program she envisions, where patients can spend time in therapy, classes, gardening, and yoga, and go home at the end of the day refreshed and renewed. And there is no other place offering such a program in San Antonio, she said.
“They go from detox for a few days to inpatient for a month, and then, ‘You’re sober now. See ya.’ You go right back to life,” Christine said. “We’d like to provide people the opportunity to go home, but … at the same time have a place to do individual therapy and group therapy and all of the important things that go along with remembering why you’re still sober.”
As she was searching in 2018 for a site to fulfill that vision, Christine was encouraged by a friend to visit Los Patios. She and Paul were sold on its beauty and serenity the minute they drove through the front entrance and, at first, pursued a lease agreement before eventually deciding to acquire the entire property.
“I still pinch myself several times a day,” Christine said. The two couples plan to close on the deal in early 2021.
For decades, the picturesque Los Patios has been the site of charming weddings and other events, countless lunches and dinners between friends and business associates, shopping excursions among its many boutiques, and tranquil strolling through the art gallery and grounds.
While the property nearly succumbed to a devastating flood in 1989, a multiyear highway construction project, and the financial crisis in 2008, Los Patios maintained a level of status and appeal, resisting both urbanization and the march of progress.
But when the marketplace began to favor price and convenience over locally owned retail, and when the “center of gravity” for food arts shifted to city center, Los Patios had to be reinvented, John said. He opened an Airbnb business and leased space to more office tenants than retail. He closed the declining restaurant in 2018 and later put Los Patios on the market.
“We were in the business of adapting,” John said. “And we figured at some point … a couple years ago, that we had done what we could do with the property and it was time to begin looking for the right people that would be willing to monetize our investment, but more importantly, had a proposed use for the property that seemed to be resonant with what this place is.”
The Mayers are currently overseeing renovations on one building to comply with Americans with Disability Act requirements as they make plans for other parts of the campus, including a garden and music room.
Mary has donated to the recovery program a piano that sits in one building. It belonged to her father and later her son. “That piano is going to be part of the whole music scene here and nobody would be happier than my father and son,” Mary said. “They are total believers in the recovery movement.”
John said he’s very content with the agreed-upon sales price for Los Patios because it was more important to him to find the right successor with the best use in mind for a place where, throughout history, people have gathered for shade, water, and respite.
“When we bought it, it became clear to me that this was more of an exercise in stewardship than ownership,” he said. “You have to be sort of a business contrarian – to put your money in things that don’t provide the kind of [return on investment] that you can see on a spreadsheet. It’s something more ephemeral than that. That’s where the uniqueness of this property comes from – doing things that are not conventional.”
Christine acknowledged they have big shoes to fill in taking over the reins at Los Patios. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to steward the property – but a great responsibility,” she said.