A downtown developer better known for soaring towers in the urban core recently turned its focus to a couple of vacant one-story properties that give the historic Milam Building its own access to the River Walk. 

Weston Urban closed Jan. 14 on the properties at 123 and 127 E. Travis St., which sit in the shadows of the 21-story Milam Building the developer acquired in March 2016. 

The building at 123 E. Travis adjoins the Milam Building, which was built in 1928 just as the Great Depression began to sweep across the country. Deed records show a space at that address was once known as “The Sandwich Shop,” a business sold to T.O. Brooks in 1930. 

Sometime in the 1950s, the building became the home of the Navy Club, a late-night bar owned by Phillip Sfair until the 1980s, according to local news reports. 

Weston Urban purchased the 4,332-square-foot building from Sfair’s estate. Tax records show it was valued at $1.15 million in 2020. 

Also built in 1940, the adjoining space at 127 E. Travis last served as the law office of the late Solomon Casseb Jr. and was sold to Weston Urban by his son, Sol Casseb III, according to deed records. Fronting the river, the building is 4,841 square feet and was last assessed at $1.02 million.

The properties will allow Weston Urban to incorporate the San Antonio River into the Milam redevelopment, said Randy Smith, president of Weston Urban.

The Milam, 115 E. Travis St., is a challenging renovation project given its age and layout, he said. No timeline for its completion has been determined. 

Opened in January 1928 as the nation’s tallest brick and reinforced-concrete structure, the Milam also was the first high-rise office building with air-conditioning. It is named for Col. Ben Milam, a hero of the Texas Revolution. 

In the meantime, the developer is planning a new 352-unit apartment tower for what is now a commercial parking lot at 305 Soledad St. near both the Milam and the recently completed Weston Urban Park and Frost Tower. 

The price tag for the apartment tower is estimated at $107 million, and construction is set to begin this summer with completion in 2024.

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Shari Biediger

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