If 2013 was the year when San Antonio was declared a “City on the Rise” and everywhere the pace of development and construction accelerated in the urban core, then 2014 is likely to be the year when the city sees many of the current projects completed and new challenges and opportunities arise to keep San Antonio on its current city-building course.
Here is my “Wish List of 14” for development in the urban core in 2014. I’m sure readers have their own lists and will share them.
1. City Council commits to building the city’s first complete street on Broadway from Hildebrand through Southtown in advance of Phase One construction of the Modern Streetcar system. Until then, a transition starting with real bike lanes that are uninterrupted and prohibit vehicle parking in the bike lanes.
2. Fiesta Commission announces first-ever litter-free Fiesta and requires all groups along parade routes and at festivals to maintain property at pre-Fiesta conditions or pay stiff fines to cover clean-up costs.
3. An on-time opening of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts with San Antonio Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, the musicians and the patrons declaring the acoustics to be amazing.
4. Congress appropriates $110 million for construction of the new federal courthouse on 214 E. Nueva St, complementing the adjacent two-year-old Public Safety Headquarters, a $55 million headquarters for the San Antonio Police and Fire Departments. Construction and move-in timeline paves the way for a community conversation about redevelopment of the southern flank of Hemisfair Park – specifically, whether every HemisFair ’68 building is truly historical and worthy of protection and redevelopment or whether new ideas connecting Lavaca and downtown can be invited and considered.
6. Peace and goodwill in King William as ground is broken for H-E-B’s new South Flores Market, a hallmark of Mayor Julián Castro’s ‘Decade of Downtown’ initiative.
7. Obama administration orders payment to UNESCO of withheld U.S. funds. San Antonio’s historic Spanish colonial missions are declared a World Heritage site.
8. City of San Antonio and TXDOT announce a second “complete street” project on Roosevelt Avenue from Lone Star Boulevard to Mission San Jose, welcoming vehicles, cyclists, and pilgrims on foot to make the 3.1-mile journey to the “Queen of the Spanish Missions.”
9. World Heritage designation for the historic missions inspires San Antonio’s Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller to invite Pope Francis I to San Antonio, noting that the city’s population, faith, and socio-economic profile represent more than any other U.S. city the values the new Pope holds sacred. Noting the extraordinary welcome given to Pope John Paul II in 1987, Pope Francis accepts for 2015. His two scheduled Masses, one in San Fernando Cathedral, the other at Mission San Jose, become the hardest ticket to get in the United States. Rivard Report gets media seat in back pew on the aisle.
10. City of San Antonio and Bexar County announce a new initiative to conduct a comprehensive study of vacant downtown buildings to determine real market values, using equitable taxing policy, condemnation and code compliance to force owners to develop or sell vacant properties or face new tax bills.
11. CPS Energy reveals proposal to sell its current multi-building downtown headquarters and other real estate properties it owns to raise sufficient capital to build the state’s most energy-efficient building as a new headquarters without any direct cost to customers. Hundreds of additional CPS Energy workers reassigned to headquarters. Project spurs downtown construction, and allows developers to convert the current CPS buildings into mixed-use River Walk residential properties.
12. City of San Antonio forges deal with Newell Recycling to relocate industrial operator to property outside city limits. Major environmental cleanup of and adjacent properties and spurs new surge of interest in Lone Star neighborhood.
13. A major, well-capitalized developer purchases Lone Star Brewery and announces a new master plan for the site that will include affordable housing, artists studios and other amenities suitable to the neighborhood. Together with the Blue Star Arts Complex expansion, the Eagleland Reach and northern end of the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River become the hottest development in the urban core as the year ends and we begin to think about our 2015 wish list.
14. Toyota announces plans to add a new assembly line to its San Antonio plant to manufacture a hybrid vehicle to complement current Tundra and Tacoma pick-up rick production.
It could all happen. What’s your wish list for 2014?