VIA Metropolitan Transit board members approved an agreement with a local firm to begin the process of redeveloping property next to its headquarters just west of downtown.
On Oct. 26, VIA board approved the selection of DreamOn Group, which had already started a proposal to redesign the Scobey Storage Complex back in May into a “transit-oriented community,” as the agency envisions.
The board’s approval allows DreamOn to enter into a nonbinding exclusive negotiation agreement with VIA, Vice President of Procurement Dyanne Sampson told board members at an Oct. 19 meeting.
The board’s approval is only the first of three steps in Scobey’s redevelopment, Sampson explained. After this, VIA and DreamOn will work to create a term sheet that also outlines potential revenue streams for VIA, and then a joint development agreement based on that term sheet.
“The [agreement] will provide the framework for collaborative negotiation of business terms and conditions between VIA and a developer,” she said. “VIA’s board of trustees approval will be required prior to executing any subsequent step.”
DreamOn will be a partner with VIA to reimagine the 270,000-square-foot Scobey property into a mixed-use development. The nonbinding agreement allows VIA and DreamOn to work on project design with the ability to walk away at any point.
VIA purchased the Scobey Storage Complex in 2017. The property has six buildings and sits on a lot of about 2.6 acres located on North Medina Street between Martin and West Travis streets. VIA’s Centro Plaza sits diagonally across from the property, and the Bexar County jail sits across the railroad tracks.
Trustee Louis Cooper, who ultimately voted to approve the agreement with DreamOn, expressed skepticism over VIA’s current approach to the Scobey redevelopment and hesitation over narrowing the agency’s focus to one developer so early.
”It seems like VIA keeps pushing this instead of the ordinary way that would be ‘you have a piece of property, developers come to you with a plan,’” he said during the Oct. 19 meeting. “To me, it’s like we’re chasing down somebody trying to ensure that we do something with this property, when I think it’s very premature to do at this point in time.”
VIA President and CEO Jeff Arndt explained that VIA thought this would be a more productive route to take.
“Our belief is … that we wouldn’t have gotten anybody interested in any kind of response at all,” he said. “If the board desires, we can mothball the property but when it’s time to move forward, we would use the same kind of process.”
Manjiri Akalkotkar, VIA’s director of capital and service planning, told board members that DreamOn’s proposal includes residential use, educational use, retail use, and office space.
The proposal by DreamOn also involves local architecture firm Overland Partners, which is designing the project, and Austin-based Geyser Group, DreamOn’s development partner for the Scobey redevelopment, Akalkotkar said.