When the apartment building taking shape along U.S. Highway 281 just north of the Pearl opens this spring, a unique feature of the development will soon be available to both residents and the general public.

A pedestrian bridge that spans the adjacent River Walk is set to be installed in March. 

The bridge spanning the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River will connect Tin Top Flats at 847 E. Ashby Pl. directly south to the Brackenridge Park Trail, which follows an east-to-west path under the highway.

“The foundation for the bridge has been completed and so it’s supposed to come out in March and be craned in and then they install it,” said Jimmy McCloskey, executive vice president of the development group Embrey.

Work on Tin Top Flats began in 2020 at a 5-acre site that was once home to the Borden Creamery dairy plant but in recent years operated as a storage facility. A mini-storage building constructed later on the site and four large billboards that once greeted southbound travelers have been removed. 

The newly built apartment building with views of the 18-hole Brackenridge Park Golf Course has taken its place. When complete, it will feature 338 units that range in size from one-room studios to three-bedroom apartments and townhomes. 

Monthly rental rates will range from $1,600 to $4,000, McCloskey said, with the average rent being $2,165. 

Apartment search site RentCafe lists the average monthly rent in San Antonio as $1,302, and downtown, $1,621, the lowest among major Texas cities.

In November 2019, Bexar County commissioners approved an economic development incentive agreement that provides tax abatements estimated at $1.3 million for the public improvements Embrey is planning at the Borden site along the River Walk. 

The agreement includes a 10-year, 60% tax abatement on eligible capital investment and a public infrastructure grant of $750,000.

“The incentives that we got were for the River Walk extension and the connection between the River Walk and St. Mary’s [Street] area,” McCloskey said. 

In October 2019, San Antonio City Council also approved a development agreement with Embrey that provides $4 million through the Midtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone for public improvements to the river frontage. 

Some Tin Top units will be ready for move-in this spring and the entire project should be completed this summer, McCloskey said. Construction fell behind schedule due to pandemic-related supply chain interruptions and labor shortages.

The property also has a podium parking garage for residents, a few spaces along Josephine Street and a surface lot parking in an area where vehicle traffic and the need for parking are increasing. 

Meanwhile, the two-story former Borden building next to the Tin Top apartments is undergoing major redevelopment, a project overseen by downtown developer Area Real Estate working in partnership with Embrey. 

Area Real Estate is behind The Maverick Apartments, a redevelopment at 606 N. Presa St., and The ‘68, newly constructed in Hemisfair, among other downtown projects.

Plans call for the 1933 creamery building to house offices, restaurants and retail tenants offering amenities to Tin Top residents but also open to the public. 

The effort to bring food and beverage service to the development has been underway since 2019 but the doors are set to open in May, said Moris Saide, CEO of Only 1 Hospitality Group.

The Creamery will feature Hook, a full-service Mexican and seafood restaurant; Crême, a counter-service coffee bar; Easy Baby, an ’80s-style speakeasy and sushi bar; Amelia, a wine and cocktail bar, and Lunatique, a rooftop garden.

Area Real Estate principal David Adelman said in 2021 that he is using federal and state historic tax credits to restore the structure, vacated by the creamery business in 1995 and converted to storage units. 

“Oftentimes, historic renovations are more expensive than new construction,” he said. “I’m a big preservationist at heart, but it’s born out of the possibilities of economic success and married to historic preservation. It’s good for the planet. It’s good for the city.”

The pedestrian bridge on the site also will be fully accessible to area residents and visitors.

“We’ve got a path that we’re building along to 281 and then we also connected the Brackenridge trail to the River Walk with a bridge,” McCloskey added. “So those public improvements were paid for with public dollars.”

Embrey has another residential project underway at Broadway Street and Basse Road in Alamo Heights. 

Construction on the retail spaces within the mixed-use and multifamily development, a mid-rise called 7600 Broadway, is complete and leasing will soon follow on the 225 residential units.

This article has been updated to to remove inaccurate information about the development agreement. Embrey and Area Real Estate are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

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Shari Biediger

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