A contractor sent debris from the historic Solo Serve building spilling into the downtown River Walk when a roof and wall collapsed after a supporting structure was undermined Wednesday afternoon. Scaffolding, plywood planks, and debris defiled the river after a week of demolition efforts at the site came to an abrupt and unplanned halt with the collapse.

See the Rivard Report‘s Facebook live coverage below.

Visitors to the city watched from nearby hotel balconies and various points along the River Walk while locals in close by office windows could be seen surveying the damage and chaos.

Following the incident the City’s Government and Public Affairs Department confirmed that nobody had been injured. “At approximately 3:30 p.m., City staff was informed that debris from the Solo Serve demolition project fell on a covered walkway on a closed portion of the Riverwalk, pushing it into the San Antonio River,” the statement read.

Demolition on the long-vacant Solo Serve building on Soledad Street, a historic landmark constructed in the 1920s that was once the Bexar County Courthouse, began on March 1.

A cloud of dust engulfs the San Antonio River after plywood planks and scaffolding from the construction site fell into the river. Credit: Courtesy / Patti Scott

“I was walking for exercise,” said Patti Scott, who is visiting San Antonio from Maryland. “All of a sudden that part of the roof started to collapse. I don’t know if [the River Walk] was blocked off, but it started to collapse … scaffolding fell and I saw a huge amount of dust … you can see the metal sticking out of the river. And that tree fell across the river.”

According to San Antonio Police Department spokesperson Jesus Salame, no injuries were reported at the scene, and SAPD is working with other city departments to clean up the river.

“My understanding is it’s just debris and the building has not fallen down [into the river],” Salame told the Rivard Report. “They are in the process of doing demolition [and] a mishap caused some debris to go into the river, but technically the building is coming down. We will make sure it’s all structurally sound and SAPD is active at the scene making sure nobody gets hurt.”

When the Rivard Report asked one construction worker at the scene what happened, he declined comment. “Not good,” he said, in response to how his day was going.

The river-level sidewalk below Mexican Manhattan and the Solo Serve construction site had been blocked off to pedestrians, construction worker Alex Quiroz said, pointing to the barricades at the street level.

Hansco, Inc., the contractor in charge of demolishing the two-story structure, worked to clear the area as the City’s Transportation & Capital Improvements Department monitored the situation to ensure debris doesn’t impact the flow of the river or the cleanup efforts, the City’s press release stated.

In place of the Solo Serve building will be a nine-story hotel with a river-level restaurant by Austin-based Merritt Development Group and hotel developer Vista Host.

See the Rivard Report’s footage of the Solo Serve building’s initial demolition below.

Hanna Oberhofer

Hanna Oberhofer

Before moving to San Antonio in 2004, Hanna was a competitive rhythmic gymnast in her native Austria. She earned degrees from St. Mary’s University and the Texas State Graduate College before joining...

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...