The late Robert L.B. Tobin, 28, in his Oakwell Farms home in 1962, the year the home was completed and he moved in.
The theater arts collection of the late Robert L.B. Tobin, photographed in his home in 1962, contains more than 12,000 objects. Credit: Courtesy / Tobin Endowment

The Tobin Endowment has sold the last undeveloped parcel of late philanthropist Robert L.B. Tobin’s original 500 acres to Dallas-based Rosewood Property Company, which will build a mixed-use development on the remaining 44 acres surrounding Tobin’s home on San Antonio’s Northeast side.

The development will be “largely residential with some limited retail and office (space),” Rosewood President and CEO Bill Flaherty told the Rivard Report Monday, adding that “this will be unlike anything we’ve ever done.”

J. Bruce Bugg Jr., chair of the Tobin Endowment board, could not by contract disclose the purchase price, but said the transaction will “substantially benefit” the giving power of the foundation.

Tobin’s home, which serves as the foundation’s office, and about two acres surrounding it will be preserved.

Rosewood has plans to maintain long-term ownership of the development and will initially offer these “higher-end” townhomes, apartments, and some “single-family style” homes for rent, Flaherty said. “We think it’s going to serve a wide market.”

Tobin’s original vision for the acreage was to establish what he called “The Village at Oakwell Farms.” Before his death in 2000, he developed and sold about 450 acres for single and multi-family housing projects and offices.

This project completes that work and grows the asset base of the endowment, Bugg said.

Flaherty expects the commercial spaces to attract small offices and “boutique-oriented” businesses. Restaurants are not out of the question, but parking will be limited, he said.

There has been marked economic growth in the north-central corridors in- and outside Loop 410, where residential and business centers have emerged over the past few years.

“With the growth in that area, the value proposition changed,” Bugg stated. “It was my fiduciary responsibility as chairman and trustee of the Tobin Endowment to look at opportunities to monetize the excess acreage.”

The land was previously under contract with local developer David Weekly Homes, but the Oakwell Farms Homeowners Association and other neighbors rejected the plan to build 956 apartment units.

“We needed to down-zone the property in order to proceed,” Bugg said. “The neighborhood opposed it, so we terminated the contract.”

Rosewood has no plans to rezone the land and there will be a concerted effort to keep the neighborhood apprised of the project’s timeline and design, which are both in development, Flaherty said. “We intend to solicit their thoughts. We are very capable of developing what we think is right (for the property), but at the very least we will listen.”

This will not be Rosewood’s first venture into the San Antonio housing market. Ventura Ridge and Pecan Springs, two luxury multi-family developments near the intersection of I-10 and Loop 1604, are already in Rosewood’s portfolio which includes residential, storage, industrial, and undeveloped land.

Much of Oakwell Farms is surrounded by parkland, including the 121-acre Robert L.B. Tobin Park, which features 2.1 miles of the Salado Creek Trailway. The Tobin Endowment donated 81 acres of land to the City for the park in 2002. The City then added 40 more acres to the park.

The Tobin Endowment has donated more than $55 million to various nonprofit organizations and charities. Because Tobin was an avid patron of the arts, much of the funding has gone to area arts organizations, including a $15 million naming gift for the Tobin Center for Performing Arts.

The Riverwalk Plaza was opened for a meet and greet. Photo by Scott Ball.
The River Walk plaza at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report
Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org