My connection to the Pearl goes all the way back to 1972, when my little family moved to San Antonio from Houston for my former husband to work at the Pearl Brewery. My then 2-year-old son and I spent the afternoon under a carport next to the Administration Building (now Cured) as his dad interviewed for a position here.
We lived in the Old Farm subdivision off Perrin Beitel near Thousand Oaks Road for eight years. I lived in four other San Antonio neighborhoods before settling here at the Pearl.
In 2010, when I decided to move to the downtown area, the now Historic Pearl Brewery was just opening its first apartments, and those apartments called my name. After all, Pearl Brewery brought us here and, although they wanted to move us to East Texas a few years later, we passed on that and stayed in the city we came to love.
I’m a real estate broker and I knew I wanted to work from home when I moved to the Pearl so that I could be around enough to enjoy having the Museum Reach just outside my door. I needed a two-bedroom apartment and that was the only one still available. It was on the top floor, with a 180-degree view – perfect for me. The fact that the best spot in the building just happened to be available, was definitely a bonus I didn’t recognize at the time. And I had no idea all the other amenities that I’d enjoy as the owner continued to bring this property to life over the next few years. But I did know the Pearl was where I belonged.
In October 2010 the six apartments and two penthouses in the Culinary Building were ready for occupancy and the tenants all excitedly moved in. Three of us originals are still here, and I proudly hold the title of the tenant who has lived at the Pearl the longest – although by just a few days or weeks. Many of my friends know that I have graciously accepted the title of Mayor of the Pearl bestowed upon me by Bill Shown. I say it’s because I’ve lived here the longest and I’m nosier than anybody else around here! But I’m probably also the biggest supporter of all things Pearl.
This was a sleepy place back in 2010, except on Saturdays when the farmers market was going on. Melissa Guerra: Latin Kitchen Market, The Twig, Adelante Boutique, La Gloria, Synergy, The Sandbar, and Il Sogno were up and running. But that was about it for visitors to the property at that time. The Stable event center had a big, grassy yard in front along with the yellow train car. Across the way was the old metal building where the beer cans were made. Now that the property is full of interesting buildings, shops, and places to eat and drink, early mornings are about the only time it’s quiet here in our little urban village.
Over the years I’ve watched one fence after another go up as excavation began for new buildings. And I watched those fences move to new locations as buildings were finished and ground broken for others. It was an exciting day when The Cellars and Hotel Emma were completed and the final fence came down, exposing the Park at Pearl as the new centerpiece for celebrations of all kinds. It became the final home of the Pearl Farmers Market and a gathering place for families to come to play, friends to meet, and more. I happened to run into Kit Goldsbury that day after the final fence came down by the park and I got to personally thank him for this glorious place to live.
And what better place to live during a pandemic than in an urban village like the Pearl! Lots of outdoor breathing space, people to social distance with, food choices, and even grocery choices right here on property.
I’ve often said living at the Pearl is the first time I’ve ever felt like I’ve truly lived in a neighborhood. When I had knee surgery a few years ago, more than one of the neighbors offered any help I might need. They told me just to call and they’d bring me food or whatever I needed. Having the opportunity to mix and mingle with the shop owners, the chef-owners and staffs of the many restaurants, the neighbors in the Can Recycling Building (yes, there are three studio apartment above the bike shop), The Can Plant, The Cellars, and now Southline, as well as the architects, journalists, real estate folks, and many others, means never a dull day in our hood.
One of the things I love about this property is the way visitors are welcomed. Almost all outdoor events are free. Bring your chair, even bring your food and drink if you want. Nobody is going to turn you away or charge you for parking.
One of my greatest joys of living at the Pearl is meeting people from all over the world just outside my door. Rarely do I go outside my apartment and not meet visitors trying to find their way around or decide where to eat. The question is usually the same: Where’s the best place to eat? And that’s an easy one – any place on the property! Sure, I have my own favorites, but I just guide them to what they tell me they’re hungry for.
And I always make sure visitors know not to miss Hotel Emma. The old brewery that brought me to San Antonio is still the special place I love to share with everyone. Almost 10 years here and I find it hard to imagine living anywhere else.