Plans for a 32-story apartment tower in the heart of the downtown business district cleared a first hurdle on Wednesday. 

Without discussion, the Historic and Design Review Commission granted conceptual approval for the residential structure that could start taking shape later next year. Developer Weston Urban is planning to build on the property located at 305 Soledad St. that it acquired in 2019. 

The cost to build the 352-unit tower is estimated at $107 million, and construction is set to begin in the summer of 2021 with completion in 2024.

The proposed development sits in the downtown tech district, and Weston Urban owns several nearby buildings. Credit: Courtesy / Weston Urban – Page Architects

A representative of the developer declined to comment on the project.

Designed by Page architects, the proposed structure features brick masonry construction and ground-level retail space. Members of a review committee that looked at the architectural plan in October called it a beautiful design.

At 400 feet tall, the tower would be one of the San Antonio skyline’s tallest buildings. 

During the commission meeting, San Antonio Conservation Society President Patti Zaiontz objected to the tower’s height in relation to other buildings around it, including the Robert E. Lee apartment building at 111 W. Travis St. However, City staff said there were other buildings of similar height in the vicinity, including Frost Tower, also developed by Weston Urban. 

Despite its height, the 32-story tower is not expected to block the nearby River Walk from sunlight, according to designs presented by the developer. 

The building would still allow at least 7.5 hours of sunlight during the summer solstice and 5.5 hours of sunlight during the winter solstice, the minimum daylight requirements for properties within 30 feet of the riverbank, according to a solar study.

Weston Urban also owns downtown office buildings that include the Rand, Milam, and Savoy buildings, and the Weston Centre, among other properties.

Situated to the west of the 32-story Weston Centre, the narrow property designated for the residential project is a surface parking lot with just under an acre of space. 

The property of the proposed development is currently used as a surface parking lot. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

In November, the Planning Commission approved the developer’s request for the City to abandon and close sections of the north- and southbound streets on either side of the lot to allow for construction of a six-level parking garage. 

The total area to be closed includes 4,590 square feet of North Main Avenue and 2,358 square feet of Soledad Street. The Conservation Society also objected to the takeover of this right-of-way. 

City staffers recommended commissioners approve the project with few stipulations, one of which requires the developer to submit a detailed landscaping and lighting plan for final approval. The developer agreed to all stipulations. 

Weston Urban has been approved for Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP) incentives to include a 15-year local tax rebate, of which 25 percent would be invested in the City’s Affordable Housing Fund for future projects. The contribution to the Affordable Housing Fund is estimated at $2.2 million. A request for reduction of San Antonio Water System impact fees valued at $1 million will be considered by City Council in 2021.

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Shari Biediger

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