Urban Land Institute San Antonio hosts 'Developer Shark Tank' during the Mayor's Housing Summit.
At the Urban Land Institute's Developer Shark Tank, "sharks" hear pitches for two mixed-use development concepts in 1920s-era structures. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Two groups of aspiring real estate developers pitched redevelopment projects in San Antonio’s urban core hoping to capture the attention of a four-person panel of investors – or perhaps someone in the audience assembled at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Monday.

The Urban Land Institute’s Developer Shark Tank on Monday featured two mixed-use development concepts in 1920s-era structures the developers are aiming to rehabilitate and revitalize with the help of capital investment. The event was first held last year as part of Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s annual Housing Summit.

“It’s extra special this year, because as you know we just passed some significant housing reform … that helps make sure that we’re building a San Antonio that can be prosperous for everyone,” Nirenberg said in opening remarks. The San Antonio City Council last week approved a $2.8 billion budget that includes funding to bridge the housing affordability gap in the city.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg gives opening remarks at the ULI Shark Tank event.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg gives opening remarks at the ULI Shark Tank event. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Both projects, one at 1714-1722 S. St. Mary’s St. and the other at 1100 Broadway, proposed a mixture of housing and commercial space.

Juan Cano, commercial real estate professional, said the presentations – modeled after the popular TV show “Shark Tank” – gave its audience a window into the typically closed-door investment process.

“You’ll understand just how complex and multidisciplinary the commercial real estate world is and how many players need to come to the table behind a common vision and goal to build cities that are built for equality, affordability, and opportunity,” Cano said.

Financing was not guaranteed for either of the participants, but each group will receive one-on-one mentoring from one of the “sharks,” each of whom has years of experience in commercial real estate development. The panel comprised Randy Smith, president of downtown-focused real estate development firm Weston Urban; Lori Houston, assistant city manager at the City of San Antonio; Ed Cross, CEO and founder of the San Antonio Commercial Advisors; and Hailey Ghalib, managing director of multifamily development at USAA Real Estate.

David Denton presented his pitch to build a $505,000 redevelopment on a half-acre of land between downtown and Southtown on South St. Mary’s Street.

The 37-year-old attorney aims to build studio apartments and retail space in three historic buildings.

In his proposal, Denton sought a $240,000 investment. He said he had secured $160,000 for construction on the project and expects to raise additional money.

Gamble & Salas Partners pitched a nine-story mixed-use development at 1100 Broadway St. near Maverick Park. The building currently houses a salon, The Oxygen Room and Beauty Bar.

The partners proposed building six stories on top of the existing three to host a restaurant on the first level and commercial offices above.

The total $25 million project would require $6 million for acquiring the land, owned currently by Arcon Development, according to the Bexar Central Appraisal District. Gamble & Salas sought a $3 million loan from the sharks on behalf of the building’s owner.

David Adelman, AREA Real Estate principal and moderator of the event, said Monday’s “Shark Tank”-style proposals were distinct from the show in that they presented an uncut, real-time look at potential deals.

David Adelman, AREA Real Estate principal, serves as moderator for the Developer Shark Tank. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“It’s hard to get folks actually to apply to do this because you’re putting yourself out there,” Adelman said. “You’re putting your deal structure out there [and] what you’re trying to accomplish. And with any luck and hope, you’ll get some positive feedback and maybe, who knows, somebody in the room is interested in investment.

“I know there’s a lot of great opportunities. San Antonio is a city on the rise, and it’s a good place to invest.”

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.