The owners of a 1-acre site in the Mission Historic District can move ahead with plans to develop a neighborhood gathering spot after a review panel recently approved modifications to the property. 

The project, at 207 Roosevelt Ave., will transform a site now zoned for industrial use near the trails of the Mission Reach into an open-air entertainment center. Design plans show one building labeled “ice house.”

“It’s a fabulous location,” said architect Jerry Lammers, principal with Alamo Architects, who represented owner Joe Bakke before the Historic and Design Review Commission hearing. 

“There’s really nothing like this down in that area of town,” he said. “The goal for the project is really for it to be a neighborhood project.”

Plans show an open lawn area with picnic tables surrounded by existing buildings on the site that will be renovated, with two additional commercial buildings to be constructed. 

Rendering of the gathering area of the proposed project, looking north. Partially obscured by trees on the right is a historic home the property owners plan to renovate and likely turn into an eatery.
Rendering of the gathering area of the proposed project, looking north. Partially obscured by trees on the right is a historic home the property owners plan to renovate for an eatery or retail. Credit: Courtesy / Alamo Architects

A two-story historic home on the property will be remodeled for a restaurant, cafe or retail space, Lammers said.  

A portion of the lot along the north side of the property, nearest the railroad tracks, will be paved for parking and connect to a land bridge that crosses South St. Mary’s Street.

City staff recommended commissioners grant conceptual approval to the project with some stipulations, involving proposed changes to the door and window openings of the historic home, which faces Roosevelt Avenue.

The panel also asked the applicant to return for another review of plans to modify the roofline, brick columns and back patio of the house, which as currently rendered would detract from the original historic character of the structure. 

“This is a gateway into District 3, and I have kept an eye on the project and I’ve got to tell you, just as an observer, I have been very, very proud of the work that y’all have been able to achieve,” said Commissioner Gabriel Velasquez.

While it’s less than a mile from District 3, the project sits in District 5.

The panel voted unanimously to approve the project. 

The architect and owners met with the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association late last year to present the plans, which went over well with area residents.

“We were very, very excited about their proposal, and what that meant for our neighborhood of Roosevelt Park,” said Jeff Hunt, president of the neighborhood association.

In addition to helping beautify the area, the development will provide meeting and special event space.

“I think that everything they want to do with the property is in line with our neighborhood association’s mission as well,” Hunt said, including Bakke’s plan to install an ofrenda, or altar.

A longtime commercial developer with newly renovated offices on the site, Bakke said he and his brother Phil and nephew Brandt hope to see the project completed within the year. They assembled three tracts at the Roosevelt and Lone Star Boulevard intersection, including the land bridge, so there’s more to come, he said.

“We really love our neighbors, we love everything about it down here,” he said. “We think we’ve really got something exciting coming up.”

The project site, which was once used to craft stone and marble monuments and mausoleums, is not new to commissioners

In April 2021, they determined that a corrugated metal workshop used by stoneworker Henry Meier should not be designated as historic. 

The Office of Historic Preservation approved a request to demolish the structure in November, with the attached mausoleum, made of tile and concrete masonry, to remain and potentially house the ofrenda.

All materials were salvaged for possible reuse in other parts of the project, Lammers said. 

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.