Trinity University has yet to develop plans for land (center) it will purchase off of Shook Avenue and East Kings Highway. Credit: Apple Maps

Trinity University has purchased 9.2 acres of undeveloped land between its campus and St. Anthony Catholic High School that was previously slated to become a controversial subdivision in San Antonio’s urban core.

The land is located along Shook Avenue between East Kings Highway and Summit Avenue and includes the historic George Sexton House, which currently hosts seminarians at the Oblate School of Theology.

The George Sexton House of Studies. Credit: Edmond Ortiz for the San Antonio Report

While the university does not have immediate plans for the property, the location is ideally situated for “long-term strategic use,” said Trinity President Danny Anderson. “The value of the property lies in its adjacency to the Trinity campus and the possibilities it holds for future generations.”

Trinity signed a confidentiality agreement with the sellers, Oblate Title Holding and cannot disclose the purchase price, said university spokesperson Sharon Schweitzer.

The Bexar County Appraisal District set the holding company’s Shook Avenue property value at $2.4 million in 2016.

The university is limited in its potential to expand its physical footprint, bounded by Highway 281 to the east and the historic Monte Vista neighborhood to the west. Even without specific development plans, the acquisition of adjacent properties fits with the vision of the master plan, Schweitzer said.

Trinity’s master plan process took a leap forward in January when the university purchased the luxury 141-unit City Vista Apartment complex located at 655 E. Hildebrand Ave., across from the campus. The property, which will be used for upperclassmen and possibly graduate student housing, includes a 340-space parking garage. 

After the City Vista purchase, the university decided to move forward when the Monte Vista property became available, Schweitzer said.

The Shook Avenue parcel is currently owned by The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which also operates the Oblate School of Theology. St. Anthony began as a seminary for the Oblates before becoming a Catholic boys’ school. The University of the Incarnate Word purchased St. Anthony in 2003 and subsequently opened the school to female students.

The owners had been exploring the possibility of using the land for a 52-unit subdivision known as La Marquesa Estates, but the project faced scrutiny from the Monte Vista Historical Association. Members of the association felt that the inward facing homes would not fit the character of the historic district, known for stately homes facing treelined streets.

The property at the corner of East Kings Highway and Shook Avenue. Photo by Scott Ball.
The property at the corner of East Kings Highway and Shook Avenue. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

As part of the due diligence involved in the purchase, the university met with the neighborhood association.

“The addition of this property to our campus will be positive for Trinity and for Monte Vista,” Anderson said. “Any future development Trinity University undertakes with the property will be done with the awareness of the environmental, historical, and residential context of the site.”

The property may be home to an endangered spider known as the Robber Baron Cave meshweaver, which makes its home in karst features like the three small caves on the property. Beyond maintaining and securing the property, Trinity plans to monitor the ecologically significant features of the habitat.

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.