When I was recruited to San Antonio in 2005 as City Manager, my husband Mike and I chose to live in downtown. Having commuted for 16 years in Phoenix, I was more than ready to live close to City Hall, where I knew I’d be working long hours and frequently six or seven days per week.
Back then, many San Antonio locals were curious about our choosing to live downtown and would ask: “Why do you want to live where there are mostly tourists and homeless people?”
Over the past decade, downtown San Antonio has changed for the better on both of those fronts. We still have homeless residents and tourists, but they are living and visiting under much better conditions. Haven for Hope provides shelter, food, medical services and job training for the homeless; and the newly expanded Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center accommodates visitors to one of the nation’s best meeting and conference destinations.
In 2005, we chose to live in the newly constructed La Cascada condominium building on the River Walk just south of the Nueva Street Bridge and north of César Chávez Boulevard and selected an easterly facing unit. We had lived in the southwest long enough to know to welcome morning sunshine and avoid the unbearable afternoon sun and heat.
Another reason we purchased a condominium was because we weren’t sure how long we would live and work in Texas and wanted flexibility if we chose to move. As it turns out, La Cascada has been our home longer than any other house that we’ve owned over our 45 years of marriage.
Our condominium faces the San Antonio River Walk. It’s not only close to City Hall, it has a beautiful yard and direct access to miles of paved trails to the north through the Museum Reach and to the south through the Mission Reach. You can run a full marathon without leaving the River Walk!
But it wasn’t always that way. At the urging of Mayor Hardberger, the City of San Antonio, in partnership with the San Antonio River Authority, extended the River Walk north past the Pearl Brewery to Brackenridge Park. On the south end, Bexar County took the lead and extended the River Walk all the way to Mission Espada.
When I first moved to San Antonio, the River Walk ended just south of Blue Star at Big Tex. Back then my marathon training runs on the River Walk to the south ended at Blue Star where I would jog over to Probandt, head past the Lone Star Brewery before catching Mission Road near Mission Concepción. Today, the River Walk is continuous from Brackenridge Park to Mission Espada.
Where I live has become even more meaningful to me as we have sheltered in place for the past two months. Before I retired one year ago, I had not spent much time at home. I used to run with my dog in the early mornings on the River Walk, although mostly in the early hours when it was dark.
During the past two months I’ve gained a greater appreciation for how fortunate we are to live downtown near one of the most beautiful amenities this city has to offer. It’s also been wonderful to see so many local residents walking, cycling, and running along the river. In fact, I’ve seen more people on the River Walk than at any other time over the past 15 years! I hope they continue to take advantage of its beauty and serenity.
The City’s Downtown Operations maintenance staff keeps the sidewalks repaired, trees trimmed, grass mowed, and flowers blooming. Two new butterfly gardens have recently been constructed near the Nueva Street bridge. The vast amount of rain this spring has made the River Walk landscape green and lush.
With all of the new downtown restaurants, additional housing, the H-E-B on South Flores, the theaters, Alamodome, Sunset Station, Southtown, the Pearl, the UNESCO World Heritage Missions, Hemisfair, and the plans for La Villita, downtown has become a big walkable neighborhood. The upcoming expansion of the downtown University of Texas at San Antonio campus will also bring more students, faculty, housing, and amenities to the city center, further diversifying the downtown mix of residents and visitors.
I can’t imagine living anywhere in San Antonio than in downtown.
Disclosure: Sheryl Sculley is a Rivard Report member. For a full list of individual supporters, click here.