Lower Broadway’s New Low-Density Housing

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Casa Blanca Lofts from N. Alamo photo by Robert Strovers

Bekah S. McNeelFor those who want to own a little piece of the Lower Broadway boom, Casa Blanca Lofts offers two key amenities: location and aesthetics. Let’s face it, not every downtowner is into boxy minimalist units. Some are not into the industrial look either. Some people are looking for the charm of old San Antonio in the heart of new development.

Casa Blanca Lofts sits on the site of what were once Spanish-style apartments at the corner of Casa Blanca Street and N. Alamo Street. When developer Mitch McManus realized that the apartments were not salvageable for refurbishment, he worked with the Office of Historic Preservation to find a solution that would honor the history of the site, but allow for livable redevelopment. In the end, that meant leveling the site and rebuilding in the style of the original structure.

Casa Blanca Lofts from N. Alamo photo by Robert Strovers

Casa Blanca Lofts from N. Alamo. Photo by Robert Strovers

Like many of the inner city developers who are sensitive to the apprehensions of current residents, McManus did not max out the density allowed by the lot’s zoning. He kept the corridors and patios that give the building charm and distinction, and planned seventeen well-appointed units, one of which is a two-story town home.

The development takes into account the varied realities of their location. The six blocks east of Lower Broadway are not a part of a quaint, planned community. They are rapidly developing inner city blocks that will soon be bustling with artisan shops and eateries. But security and driveways are still a good idea, and Casa Blanca Lofts includes both. It also has a pool that overlooks what will hopefully soon be a steady stream of shoppers and diners. For the moment it’s the Pig Stand parking lot, and more than likely a view of the parade route for Battle of Flowers and the Fiesta Flambeau. Such attributes should make for a quick return on investment.

“It’s all going to flood out,” said Lori Campos, the Realtor for Casa Blanca Lofts, speaking of the Lower Broadway boom.

Her savvy is well-vetted. Campos has worked with developers on other multi-family structures in King William, South Flores, and other recent renaissance districts.

Casa Blanca Lofts' contemporary details and old San Antonio charm. Photo by Robert Strovers

Casa Blanca Lofts’ contemporary details and old San Antonio charm. Photo by Robert Strovers

Walking through the model unit, it’s easy to see the appeal of a for-purchase condo over a rental apartment. In an apartment, the fixtures and finishes must be chosen with high turn-over in mind and a different kind of profit calculation. In the massive developments, designers simply cannot afford custom finishes, if nothing else because of the extra time and effort they represent. But in a seventeen-unit development where each condo is priced to own, the designer can invest time and attention to detail, which is exactly what shows in the Casa Blanca lofts.

Everything from the granite and quartz countertops to ten-foot ceilings and hand-crafted mission style cement tiles shows the commitment to character in the lofts. The spacious porches and patios have natural finish wood ceilings. The light fixtures are unique design elements, not chosen as part of a “lighting package A, B, or C?” process. They are the thoughtful choices of interior/exterior designer D’Ette Cole.

Details at Casa Blanca Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers

Details at Casa Blanca Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers

Ownership on the Lower Broadway corridor is not going at the firesale prices some expect to find in the inner city, but considering the scarcity of homes that don’t need $50K+ of work, the prices of these units should not shock studied urban real estate watchers.

(pricing information from the Casa Blanca Lofts website)

GARDEN LEVEL

five interior lofts  $269,900-$279,900
two front corner lofts facing North Alamo $329,900
rear corner loft $289,900

 

SECOND LEVEL

five interior lofts $289,900-$299,900
two front corner lofts facing North Alamo $339,900-349,900
rear corner loft  $299,900
two-story loft (1,404 square feet) $389,900

 

What you get for the money here is not acreage and a three-car garage. It’s easy access to museums and cultural institutions. It’s a short walk to Bakery Lorraine, Tuk Tuk Tap Room, and the Pearl Farmer’s Market. It’s a mix of contemporary design and classic San Antonio atmosphere, the kind you might find in Monte Vista and other sought after neighborhoods.

It’s the kind of home, honestly, that pleases the urban eye, but doesn’t make you wonder how you would explain its appeal to your mom. In fact, your mom (if she’s the hip sort of mom who wants to live downtown and digs density), might just try to buy the unit next to you. It’s a great example of the diversity of good taste that is going to keep San Antonio vibrant as it evolves.

 

Bekah is a native San Antonian. She went away to Los Angeles for undergrad before earning her MSc in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics. She made it back home and now works for Ker and Downey and is a frequent contributor to the Rivard Report. You can also find her at her blog, Free Bekah.

 

 

Related Stories:

River House: Rooms with a Museum Reach View

East Quincy: For-Sale Townhouses coming to River North’s ‘Renters Reach’

Conversation: Renting in San Antonio’s Urban Core

Where I Live: 12welve2wenty1 Broadway

It’s the Decade of Downtown, But Don’t Miss San Antonio’s Rising Southside

Broadway Reach Launches Cultural, Creative Corridor

Arts & Artists Revive Inner City Neighborhoods

 

6 thoughts on “Lower Broadway’s New Low-Density Housing

  1. As a Public Administration graduate student at St. Mary’s University we have been studying this boom that San Antonio is experiencing. These prices require the question of who in San Antonio can afford to live here? What jobs in San Antonio are there that will support this lifestyle being provided. As a former mentor of Communities in Schools and working with disenfranchised families the view from the other side of I35 of this development is like them seeing the moon. This area is inner city and has the unsavory reputation of being seedy and run down. Where will this population move to when the nouveau rich of San Antonio move in and gentrify the area. Can someone who works at Toyota live here, how about someone working at the newly built Amazon warehouse? Or better yet can many of San Antonio’s high school graduates go on to college and come back home and find a job to support this lifestyle? I think not. According to Darryl Byrd of SA2020 this city is primed to become the next Portland at this rate that might be true, but the hard fast truth it is only in housing stock not in education and our economy. That is the downfall of this boom that it is catering to people from the west coast because of jobs like Rackspace and other tech companies that many in our city cannot procure jobs at. The city needs to focus on community building and not disenfranchising more citizens by building an urban core that is out of reach for many of them.

    • What you are saying is so realistic! I’m happy to see development head back into the city and not out toward the hill country where trees and hills are getting scRAPED of the face of the earth.. But $300,000 is $3000 a month. Whew… that’s a lot of moola.

  2. I hate to break it to you guys, but that’s the cost of land and new construction in the city.

    When I checked the mortgage calculator, $300,000 with 5% down is $285,000 loan, or $1444/mo at 4.5% for 30 years. I don’t know what condo fees are there, but figure another $1000 for taxes, insurance, and fees. That’s $2444, which isn’t cheap, but there are a lot of people paying that in rent a block away.

    To Jacob, if you are an hourly worker at Toyota or Amazon, there is certainly much cheaper housing available near your job. KB Homes makes a lot of money cranking out $109,000 houses with $800 mortgage payments for many people like that. But for the thousands of new tract homes built here every year, we have one new urban condo development this year, with just 17 units, and you think that is the problem?

    If you want local kids to get Rackspace jobs, encourage them to take advantage of the many training programs Rackspace makes available desperately trying to develop some local talent.

    People, this is a city of 1.5 Million people. Not everyone can afford a $300,000 condo, but I’m pretty sure there are 17 people that can, and would like to live in new construction, near Pearl and area restaurants, and not be a renter.

    This is in line with the cost of bungalows in Mahncke Park, and a lot cheaper than homes in AHISD a little further up Broadway, or closer into downtown.

  3. As a resident of Government Hill, the neighborhood to which these condos back up, I’m all for this. Once finished, they’ll compliment the rejuvenation effort along the Broadway corridor nicely, and they’ll only serve to help the neighborhood in the long run. That said, for those people looking to move to the area who might not be able to afford these condos, or who want more space for their families, I would encourage folks to look at Government Hill. It’s a historic district with some beautiful old homes. Yes, many of them have been neglected over the years, and the neighborhood is still in a transition phase right now, but it’s trending in the right direction. Houses are still reasonably priced, and the growth and activity of the Pearl and the rest of south Broadway (the new Children’s Museum opens in 2015!) will only add to the area’s future prosperity. I liken Government Hill now to the Lavaca historic district about 5-10 years ago. And you’re still walking distance to Bakery Lorraine, Tuk-Tuk, and the Pearl.

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