The Texas Research & Technology Foundation plans to build office and lab space on the 3-acre G.J. Sutton property on San Antonio's East Side.
The Texas Research & Technology Foundation plans to build office and lab space on the 3-acre G.J. Sutton property on San Antonio's East Side. Credit: Courtesy / Texas Research & Technology Foundation

The nonprofit Texas Research & Technology Foundation has purchased the vacant G.J. Sutton property, a state-owned parcel of land on San Antonio’s East Side.

Foundation officials said they plan to build office and lab space on the 6-acre property, with green space in the center that will help connect the complex to the Eastside community. 

“It’s meant to really encourage collaboration, connectivity, and a big part of that is green space in the middle of the campus to bring the community together,” said Rene Dominguez, president and chief operating officer of the Texas Research & Technology Foundation (TRTF). “It’s really this idea of a porous community ‘super hub’ that draws the community together, to be able to share ideas.”

The foundation paid $9 million for the property, according to Dominguez, and closed on the deal in mid-April. 

The Sutton property, located at 321 Center St., is situated just south of the life science and technology nonprofit’s innovation center, VelocityTX, and a parking lot owned by TRTF. With the addition of the Sutton property, the nonprofit’s footprint grows to a contiguous 12 acres over three blocks. 

Crews demolish the Sutton Building along Cherry Street in 2019 on San Antonio's East Side.
Crews demolish the Sutton Building along Cherry Street in 2019 on San Antonio’s East Side. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The campus will serve as the hub of the foundation’s innovation district and fulfills a goal of creating inclusive economic development, Dominguez said. Foundation officials have eyed the property where a state office building once stood from the time they came up with the district concept.

“The Sutton property became a very strategic piece of land,” he said, providing the foundation the space it needs to attract companies and assist startups.

The timeline for developing the property is five to 10 years, though some parts of it may be completed within three years, Dominguez said. 

VelocityTX opened two years ago on the historic Merchants Ice House property and now houses the biomanufacturing firm GenCure and gene-therapy company Scorpion Biologics, among other biotech and health care startups. Construction on the site is ongoing and expected to be complete by the end of next year.

Formerly the site of a machine and supply company, and later used by the state for office space, the 112,000-square-foot Sutton complex was demolished in late 2019 clearing the way for its sale and potential redevelopment.

Some local residents and officials had hoped to see the historic building, vacant since 2013, restored and developed. In June 2019, the state put the property up for sale and began work to raze the building a month later. 

Per language in the bill authorizing its sale, the name G.J. Sutton, the first black official from San Antonio elected to the Texas House of Representatives, will remain tied to the property.

“He was a force here in San Antonio and at the State and certainly a big part of the Eastside community and we are going to continue to honor him,” Dominguez said. 

This article has been updated to correctly reflect the size of the G.J. Sutton property.

Shari Biediger

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