Back yard and pool at St. Benedict's Lofts. Courtesy photo.
Back yard and pool at St. Benedict's Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers with Artistic Pursuits.

Current tenants will have the first option to purchase their current units once their leases are up, but four out of the 56 units at St. Benedict’s Lofts in the King William neighborhood are officially on the market as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The same goes for the six commercial tenants occupying the ground floor.

The building was slated to become condominiums in 2006, but the real estate market at the time convinced the owners to market the project as rental apartments. There are a few existing condominiums like the King William Townhomes in King William proper, a historic area still dominated by single-family residences, although a number of the homes are divided into rentals.

One and two-bedroom lofts at St. Benedict’s range in size from 760-2,000 sq. ft., and cost between $230-450,000. The higher-end of the condo price range costs about as much as an 1,800 square-foot home in King William, according to Lorie Campos, a sales and marketing lead for Lux Agency LLC that is handling the St. Benedict’s transition.

“Condos generally run higher than houses because the development costs more, and it costs more to build,” Campos added. The fact that developers don’t own the land underneath condos also accounts for the high prices.

The location also speaks to the higher price. The St. Benedict’s Lofts is within walking distance of the River Walk, the Blue Star Arts Complex , the neighborhood’s growing number of restaurants, and the soon-to-open Big Tex apartment and retail complex.

The switch to a “condominium community” comes just months after owners of the Steel House Lofts on South Flores Street made the same decision. A robust housing market and continuing demand for near-downtown living, especially in historic neighborhoods, is driving the market shift here and in other burgeoning sectors of San Antonio’s urban core.

 “San Antonio has always been a little funny when it comes to condos,” Debra Maltz, a Realtor at Centro Properties said. “Condos and high-rise condos are just not as popular here as they are in other major Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and Austin.”

Looking out through a living room at St. Benedict's Lofts. Courtesy photo.
The view from a living room at St. Benedict’s Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers with Artistic Pursuits.

In 2004, St. Benedict’s was purchased by a partnership between Chris Hill and James Lifshutz, two local entrepreneurs in real estate and business.

“There has been a lot of new development around the downtown area, but we hear consistently that people wish there were more opportunities to buy instead of rent,” stated Hill in a news release. “We are excited to give current residents and future residents the chance to own their home in this incredible location, just steps away from all of the great restaurants and amenities of Southtown.”

Plenty of bikes for rent just across South Alamo Street from the Liberty Bar, the pink former convent, and St. Benedict's Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
San Antonio B-cycles for rent across South Alamo Street from the Liberty Bar, the bright-pink former convent, and St. Benedict’s Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The seemingly nondescript structure is muted by large shade trees that camouflage its blonde brick exterior. Next to the bright pink Liberty Bar, housed in a former convent, the development retains its simple profile. The buildings previously a hospital and nursing home operated by nuns in the St. Benedictine Order who lived in the convent.

Local architect Davis Sprinkle began the renovation process in 2006, after nearly a decade of vacancy.

“The goal was to create a modern oasis in the heart of the historic King William neighborhood. The minimalist design aesthetic is expressed in the layout of the residential units with their large picture windows, open floor plans, and crisp white interiors,” Sprinkle stated in the release. “The variety of communal courtyard spaces lends a contemplative vibe by offering gathering areas that afford privacy while still connecting back to the neighborhood.”

Loft amenities include a pool, lounging areas, fitness center, private balconies, and whatever services the existing or future commercial tenants provide. According to the release, “The website for the condominiums will be updated over the next few weeks to include available floor plans that include private balconies, patios and courtyard spaces for many of the units.”

Current tenants who decide against purchasing their unit are able to stay until their lease expires, or within 45 to 60 days of closing.

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Lea Thompson

Lea Thompson is a Texas native who has lived in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She enjoys exploring new food and culture events. Follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter or Culture Spoon.