The Steel House Lofts' row of back yards. Courtesy photo.
The Steel House Lofts' row of back yards. Courtesy photo.

One of the urban core’s most anticipated building conversions of an abandoned South Flores Street warehouse to condos announced in 2007 was brought to a sudden halt as the Great Recession and banking crisis deepened in 2009.

The Peden Iron & Steel Building was set for a new life as the Steel House Lofts, the brainchild of Austin developer Dennis McDaniel, principal at Austin Fairchild Management Co. A high-end model kitchen and sales offices were opened on the street level, and deposits were taken on some of the 67 units, 13 of them featuring urban garden or yard spaces.

Then banks stopped loaning money. The project was halted and deposits were refunded. McDaniel relaunched the Steel House Lofts as apartments, which are now 93% occupied, according to Realtor Angela Rinehart, principal at CGC Texas.

A model apartment-turned-condo at the Steel House Lofts. Courtesy photo.
A model apartment-turned-condo at the Steel House Lofts. Courtesy photo.

McDaniel is now reverting to Plan A and converting the apartments to condos, he announced Tuesday, a sure sign of the rising interest in new urban core housing in San Antonio.  McDaniel said current tenants will have exclusive rights to purchase their units until Dec. 31, when all available units will be put on the market. All tenant leases will be honored for renters who cannot or do not want to buy.

“Our intention was always for these to be condominiums for sale,” McDaniel said in a release. “We bought the property in 2007 with the thought of doing something really special that would be an iconic project for this emerging former industrial area of downtown. When the market changed in 2009, we had to pivot and make this a rental development. We’ve since watched the downtown San Antonio market really blossom, and we think the timing is right to offer these on the sale market as they were intended.”

McDaniel cited H-E-B’s South Flores Market grocery store being built at South Flores Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard, the planned San Pedro Creek Restoration project, the Big Tex expansion of the Blue Star Arts Complex, and the opening of new neighborhood bars and restaurants as other developments bolstering the for-sale market.

“We also looked around and saw virtually no comparable for-sale product on the market,” McDaniel said. “It seems to us that downtown needs a housing option for purchase, and our price point averaging in the mid-$200,000’s is really affordable for this market, especially when you factor in how low-interest rates are now. For many folks, their mortgage payment will compare favorably to what they are paying to rent downtown.”

Chef Johnny Hernandez, owner of The Fruteria on the street level, as well as La Gloria at the Pearl and Casa Hernan south of Southtown, is purchasing the space now occupied by his street front and sidewalk Botanero, Rinehart said.

La Fruteria occupies a section of the ground floor of the Steel House Lofts. Courtesy photo.
La Fruteria occupies a section of the ground floor of the Steel House Lofts. Courtesy photo.

For condo buyers, Steel House Lofts will range in size from a one-bedroom, 651 sq. ft. to a three-bedroom, 2,556 sq. ft., with units averaging 1,022 sq. ft. Prices will range from $179,000 to $575,000 with the mid-sized units priced in the $200-300,000 range.

Steel House also is selling 44 basement storage units for $2,500-4,000. The project includes surface parking.

The Peden Iron & Steel Building was built in 1894 on a rail link for convenient off-loading of iron and steel products that were marketed wholesale to the construction, railroad, and oil industries. After a 1912 fire, the company hired noted San Antonio architect Atlee B. Ayres, better known for his Spanish Colonial Revival houses, to design a new building at 1401 S. Flores St. Peden operated in the new building until the 1930s, and for the rest of the 20th century, the building served as a warehouse for succession of other businesses. Few other light industrial buildings in the city feature the same level of craft and construction.

 *Featured/top image: The Steel House Lofts’ row of back yards. Courtesy photo.


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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.