Though the views extend unobstructed for miles across the cityscape, few have seen them, nor the sunrises and sunsets visible from the balconies and windows of a northwest San Antonio residential tower built in 2004.
In all that time, there have been no occupants, no furnishings, not even walls. Nothing that would make the nine-story building that sits along the busy commercial corridor off Interstate 10 and Huebner Road a home.
Originally built as a luxury condo tower for seniors, then sold to another buyer from Mexico, the building was never completed and sat mostly empty and unfinished for almost two decades.
While residential towers have existed or sprung up in other parts of the city, the Huebner property stands out as one of very few such buildings in a neighborhood of mostly garden-style apartments.
Three years ago, a local investor group purchased the property for $9 million, according to Bexar County property records, and since then developers Mission DG have worked to bring the structure across the finish line.
The signs out front have changed from Four Oaks Tower to the development’s new name, The Vue. A pool was added to the south end. But most of the improvements are on the inside.
“When we purchased it, it was what I would call in shell condition,” said Mission DG Partner Mark Tolley. “It had some units built out but really just model units and … a penthouse unit for the owner who kind of used that penthouse as their residence here in the U.S.”
In addition, the floor plans — laid out for 48 condo units — were an inefficient use of the building and “not what the market was looking for,” Tolley added.
“With the excellent location of this building, we decided that what was really needed is predominantly one-bedrooms for people working at the [San Antonio] Medical Center, and new or younger employees of USAA.”
The building is now made up of 91 units of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, and six spacious penthouse units on the top floor. Every apartment in the building has windows with panoramic views facing both south and north. Rent for a one-bedroom unit starts at $1,600 a month.
“Now we have enough critical mass going to make this a vibrant building, to make this a building that will have a soul and have tenants that like living here,” Tolley said.
Tenants like health care workers, he said, who want secure, boutique-hotel style living, or employees at USAA, Valero, or other offices nearby who want a neighborhood that provides walkable access to restaurants and retail and close proximity to their workplaces.
But the Vue’s lobby is designed to also accommodate remote work, with both open and quiet workspaces, conference rooms, a coffee bar, and secure Wi-Fi throughout the building.
Also on the main floor is a fully equipped fitness center, pool table, common spaces, and an outdoor patio overlooking the new swimming pool. The developers plan to outfit the lobby and patios with contemporary furnishings; stylish lighting designed by glass artist Gini Garcia is the only remnant of the building’s earliest days.
The development is much like the adaptive reuse project Mission DG completed in 2019, turning a former seminary into The St. John apartments, Tolley said. It’s also a memorable project.
“This is one of the best products I’ll ever do,” said Victor Miramontes, managing partner at Mission DG. “But also [one to] remember because of the pandemic and the pandemic and the pandemic.”
Supply chains interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic caused long delays in sourcing construction materials, including the air conditioning units needed to complete the apartments, in order to pass inspections required for a certificate of occupancy. Winter Storm Uri slowed material production and delivery as well.
The Vue rehab was also different from the developer’s previous multifamily projects because they were forced to work through issues and roadblocks with City inspectors remotely, relying on Zoom meetings, Tolley said.
On Wednesday, Tolley and Miramontes, doing a walk-through with contractors, said they expect to start leasing in July after the emergency responder radio system required for high-rise buildings is in place and passes all inspections. There, too, delays in equipment delivery have been a challenge.
Established in 2015, San Antonio-based Mission DG was founded by Miramontes, Tolley, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros. The housing developer has several other projects in the works, including senior living communities in Boerne and Westover Hills, and an affordable housing development, Aspire at Tampico. Construction on another 216-unit development is about to kick off in San Marcos.
While the pandemic prevented the developer from opening The Vue last fall as planned, unlike the previous owners, who were stymied by bad timing and wider economic conditions, Mission DG did not retreat from the project.
“I don’t think they ever really got to the point where they could figure out what they wanted to really do with it, and I think honestly, we came up with the correct plan,” Miramontes said.