The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a request Tuesday that would allow a team of local developers to build a housing, retail, and office complex in Southtown. The long warehouse at 1334 S. Flores St. currently holds a historic designation, but developers are seeking to demolish the building through a pending request before another City review board.
If plans are approved and real estate deals are completed, Rajeev Puri and James Schuepbach plan to build 294 apartments, 14,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, 10,000 sq. ft. of office space, a five-story parking garage, and other surface parking spots on a 4.9-acre property in the rapidly changing neighborhood.
“There’s more and more residents in this area, so we believe that there will be a need for retail and there will be a need for some office,” Puri said.
Schuepbach added that they hope local, mom-and-pop shops can move in “to really encourage people moving and working down here.”
The zoning request will soon go to City Council for approval. Plans for demolition were preliminarily approved by the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) last month and are pending approval of architectural designs for what will be built in its place. The other structures slated for demolition, should development plans proceed, were not deemed historically significant by the City’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).
The mid-century industrial style warehouse has been modified over the years, but City staff stated in its recommendations to the Zoning Commission that “the property at 1334 S. Flores St. serves as a distinctive visible reminder of the cultural heritage of San Antonio related to the advent of the railroad and associated industrial development.”
Schuepbach Properties LLC purchased 1.5 acres billed for redevelopment in 2009, Schuepbach said Tuesday after the vote. The partnership plans on purchasing the remaining acreage from NRP Group soon.
“Their main concern was that when we come back with our plans that it is in line with what exists in the area and it carries forward some of that industrial look and feel so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb,” said Puri, who is president of Athena Domain Inc., of HDRC members’ initial concerns about removing the historic designation.
Commissioner Cecilia Garcia, the mayor’s appointee to the Zoning Commission, found the OHP’s justification for the historic designation laughable.
“I am a lover of history, a lover of this city and its culture, and am all in favor of maintaining who we are as a city,” Garcia said, “but I read this narrative and I just kinda had to laugh. It’s ridiculous. There is a time and a place to say something. If we’re doing this just for the sake of the OHP not setting a precedent, it’s the wrong thing. … We have got to be more realistic about designating historic significance … not everything is going to have to have (historic significance) attached to it. … In this case it’s an overstep.”
The new project is near the City’s Development Services building (where the Zoning and HDRC commission meetings are held), the Steel House Lofts which recently started selling its units, and the coming commercial-office development on the corner of South Flores and South Alamo streets. It’s less than a mile from the multi-million dollar redevelopment project slated for the former Lone Star Brewery.
Top image: The warehouse at 1334 South Flores Street. Photo by Scott Ball.