The Pearl will transform the parking lot in front of the Full Goods building into green space and introduce tiered parking this month.
The Pearl will transform the parking lot in front of the Full Goods building into green space and introduce tiered parking this month. Credit: Edward A. Ornelas for the San Antonio Report

The Pearl District is about to get greener. And some customers will be using some green to park their cars, though the popular mixed-use development will always have free parking, a spokeswoman said.

As part of an ongoing effort to be pedestrian-focused, the Pearl will transform the parking lot in front of the Full Goods building into green space and introduce tiered parking this month, Pearl representatives announced Thursday afternoon.

Going green

While these outdoor planned changes have been in the works for “a while,” they have been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, said Elizabeth Fauerso, chief marketing officer at the Pearl. 

“COVID woke a lot of us up to the importance of thinking about outdoor spaces, and the [pedestrian] experience,” Fauerso said. “We’ve seen it across the country – more people are thinking about closing streets, and creating space where small businesses can operate outside, and where that human scale shows up as more important than vehicle scale.” 

Pearl Parkway will be closed, making the center of the Pearl vehicle-free, Fauerso said. Beginning in early 2021, she said the Full Goods building parking lot will be converted into green space with seating and other amenities similar to other areas of the Pearl, such as in front of the Bottling Department. It will include the creation of a pedestrian thoroughfare connecting Broadway to the heart of the Pearl. Fauerso said completion of the space is expected to be sometime in late 2021. 

“This new space will give ourselves room to focus on celebrating our relationship with the river and … the relationship water has [had with] the Pearl,” Fauerso said. “There will be artesian wells adjacent to it; the idea is to have water that engages people. It will include green space, shade space, and people can safely gather and feel comfortable to use the space in a way that is organic and on their own terms.”

Two new restaurants will flank the space, fitting into the storefronts formerly occupied by Green and Il Sogno, Fauerso said. Green is currently in transition to a new home at the Alamo Quarry Market, where it is expected to reopen in 2021. The two new restaurants will be announced in early 2021, she added.

An early sketch of a redesigned park and pedestrian-only area at the Pearl. Credit: Courtesy / Pearl

Tiered parking 

The new approach to parking will be a quicker transition with a pilot program beginning this month, according to a Pearl statement. The Pearl has partnered with LAZ Parking, which will help the Pearl manage its nearly 3,000 parking spots. Premium parking prices will range from $6 to $10 depending on spot location and the amount of time a vehicle is parked. The first 30 minutes will be free, Fauerso said.

The pilot premium lot will be the Stable Lot, which is made up of 65 spaces. Pearl guests will be able to pay via their cellphones with a text-to-pay interface rather than using boxes or meters, Fauerso said. Handicap spots will remain free.

“That’s our first pilot, and we will continue to evaluate the way parking is used,” she said. “Parking is not a big issue right now. We get a little compressed on weekends, but it will be interesting to test this now while we have the flexibility to do so because of [fewer visitors during the pandemic]. One thing we want to emphasize is that we will always have free parking at the Pearl.”

According to the statement, there will be three categories of parking – premium, standard, and free. Premium spots will be marked with a P and will be red, standard spots will be marked with yellow, and free spots will be marked with green.  

“We’re hoping to encourage folks to use alternative transportation,” Fauerso said. “We don’t want to use space for parking that we’d rather use for green space, for public space, for activated space.”

Money raised from the premium parking will go toward upkeep and beautification of the Pearl, Fauerso said.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...