The long-time tenant of two buildings across from the Alamo has agreed to terminate its lease to make way for a museum and visitors center for the historic site as part of a multimillion redevelopment of Alamo Plaza, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced Wednesday.
Phillips Entertainment Inc., which owns and operates Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Guinness World Records Museum and Tomb Rider 3D Adventure Ride and Arcade, will cease operations by Sept. 1 and vacate the Woolworth and Palace buildings by Oct. 31, according to a General Land Office press release.
Phillips’ businesses occupy a significant portion of the buildings, but there are still some tenants with active leases within them.
“We owe it to every Texan to protect the sacred shrine of liberty and independence. Our goal is to tell the story of the battle of 1836 and showcase Texas’ bravest defenders who gave their lives for freedom,” Bush stated. “This agreement is an instrumental step forward in restoring reverence and dignity to the sacred Alamo grounds.”
Officials did not immediately disclose other terms of the agreement. The San Antonio Report has requested a copy of the agreement from the General Land Office.
The entertainment venues have held leases in the buildings at 327 and 329 Alamo Plaza and 518 E. Houston St. since 2002; some didn’t expire until 2028.
The state purchased the Woolworth, Palace and Crockett buildings in 2015 to become the Alamo Museum and Visitors Center, but the lease agreements were kept intact.
It’s unclear what kind of lease agreements other tenants hold in the three buildings. Alamo and land office officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.
Under a previous proposal by local and state leaders, Phillips Entertainment’s businesses and others along Alamo Street, such as Ripley’s Entertainment Inc., which operates its Believe It or Not! and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks attractions, were to be relocated elsewhere in an “entertainment district.”
That plan seems to have fizzled out, but Davis Phillips, president and CEO of Phillips Entertainment, said in an emailed statement that his company will be opening a new retail business within the next week called Viva SA.TX!, located at 123 Alamo Plaza across from the Rivercenter Mall.
“Phillips Entertainment Inc. will continue in business all across San Antonio,” Phillips stated. “We still operate two Extreme Escape locations, the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, The Texas Ranger Museum and The Amazing Mirror Maze. … [The company] is also currently in the planning stages for future businesses so that we may continue to entertain both locals and visitors alike.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has pledged to funnel millions in state funds to support the estimated $388 million Alamo Master Plan, which is a result of a partnership among the city of San Antonio, Texas General Land Office and the Alamo Trust, the site’s nonprofit steward. The plan has been on the drawing board since 2014. The latest version and lease agreement were approved by City Council in April.
The $15 million Alamo exhibition hall and collections building, the first piece of the Alamo overhaul, broke ground in August and is slated for completion later this year.
Alamo officials also announced Wednesday that the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation contributed a $5 million, five-year donation toward the development of an education center located where the current Alamo Annex and Alamo Hall are today. Construction is slated to begin later this year for an opening in the Fall of 2023.
The Texas Cavaliers Education Center will serve as “a home for all Alamo education programing,” according to a separate press release. “It will feature a field trip hub, state-of-the-art technology, classrooms for school children and educator workshops, a lecture space, a distance learning studio, a 50,000 piece model of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo made from LEGO bricks and more.”