Broadway/Austin Highway Property Owners: An Open Letter to Friends and Neighbors

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Current view of Broadway and Austin Hwy. Photo courtesy of Overland Partners.

Current view of Broadway and Austin Hwy. Photo courtesy of Overland Partners.

As owners of the property located at Ellwood and Austin Highway, all of us at Broadway Ellwood Company LLC want to give you an overdue update on its status, and on our plans for the property moving forward.

From the moment each of us became part owner of this land, we have felt an obligation to see it redeveloped into something special, something worthy of its location.  In order to live into this vision, we have always believed that any new development plan has needed to contain three key elements:  1) quality architecture, 2) a use that is beneficial to our community, and 3) economic viability.

An aerial view of the Broadway Ellwood Company property. Owner Richard Peacock also owns and operates the nearby Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine restaurant. Courtesy image.

An aerial view of the Broadway Ellwood Company property. Owner Richard Peacock also owns and operates the nearby Paloma Blanca Mexican Cuisine restaurant. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Unfortunately, for much of the time of our ownership, several factors (including difficult economic conditions) have made it difficult to move forward on any such plan.

For the past 18 months or so, however, we felt that we were on the right path when we contracted to sell the property to a developer intending to build what we believed was to be a first-class apartment project.  We believed that it lived up to our desire that there be numerous benefits to the community, including that it would be an architecturally significant project that would help breathe new life into what most see as a clearly decaying business/retail corridor.

A rendering of the now-abandoned plans for Alamo Heights Gateway mixed use development. Image courtesy of Overland. Partners

A rendering of the now-abandoned plans for Alamo Heights Gateway mixed use development. Image courtesy of Overland Partners.

As most of you are aware, the developer decided that the limits imposed by the Special Use Permit tentatively approved by Alamo Heights City Council weren’t compatible with the economic realities of building a $30 million project.  They therefore terminated the purchase contract this past February.

[Read More: Alamo Heights Rejects Gateway Project for Broadway and Austin Highway]

Given this turn of events, we wanted to let you to know that we have decided to take the next several months to completely reassess our options and discuss with various stakeholders where we should go from here.

We also wanted you to know that we have decided that the current condition of the buildings is wholly unacceptable – in fact, we feel that this has been the case for some time.  We had hoped that by now they would have been torn down as part of the property’s redevelopment, but not only has this not happened, over the past 18 months they have degraded rapidly.

Their condition is now something we simply can’t continue to tolerate – we live in this community, we drive by the site daily, and now that we control the property again we are determined to demolish the improvements as soon as possible.  Before long, therefore, you will probably read about (and hopefully witness) our efforts to raze these structures – if any of the houses can be donated to charity, we will endeavor do so.

We remain hopeful that in the end our community will come together to arrive at a consensus to redevelop this property in a manner that is strongly embraced by us all.  In the meantime, we welcome any thoughts or suggestions – please email us at broadwayellwood@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Richard Peacock Jr.  

*Featured/top image: Current view of Broadway and Austin Hwy. Photo courtesy of Overland Partners.

Related Stories:

Alamo Heights Rejects Gateway Project for Broadway and Austin Highway

Alamo Heights’ Gateway to High Density Housing

Lower Broadway’s New Low-Density Housing

River House: Rooms with a Museum Reach View

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

27 thoughts on “Broadway/Austin Highway Property Owners: An Open Letter to Friends and Neighbors

  1. Interesting that Richard’s comments come a week after my letter to the City, and the published article. There is no excuse for their violations against the existing codes. Those properties have been a blight for years and the City did nothing.

  2. I was a big fan of the development and completely sad to see Alamo Heights stay relegated in their old ways of being anti-growth in any other way than traditional. I hope you you guys bring a world class development to that prime site and the citizens realize their current leadership is holding them back in a major way.

    Good luck!

    • Josh, “world class” development doesn’t have to violate 11 city ordinances. You just can’t look at the property with blinders on, ignoring the neighbors, the floodway, the traffic patterns, and the compatability with the Comprehensive Plan.
      As long as 3) economic viability remains a big part of the requirement, perhaps we need to find someone willing to buy the property who can focus on 1) quality architecture and 2) a use that is beneficial to our community.

    • Jim, this is a serious issue to Alamo Heights, and as an old hippie I see no need to bring yuppie into the conversation. We have a problem to solve and you aren’t contributing. If you voice a complaint about something, you should also suggest a solution.

  3. “would help breathe new life into what most see as a clearly decaying business/retail corridor”

    Some body ought to tell the owners of Local Coffee that their thriving business is smack dab in the middle of a retail bermuda’s triangle.

  4. Rob – how would it breathe new life into the BUSINESS / RETAIL corridor? It is bringing residential customers not businesses. The 4K square feet of retail is for the property management office. Could you please elaborate on your theory of how this will bring new business and retail? The retail we have needs to be remodeled and updated or better yet, rebuilt. But this project is not going to help. It IS going to cost the current residents a TON of MONEY to put in the necessary infrastructure. The cost to move the fiber optic lines is over a million dollars — ask the property owners about this…they had it estimated and told the city that this was going to cost the city!!!!

    I’m waiting for your reply.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  5. It’s a real shame what happened here. Our neighborhood is old and run down. You even admit that the residents are not willing to upgrade infrastructure. That would have been a great project to activate the street-life and enhance the environment in that area. It’s really kind of a scary place as it is, and Austin Hwy is a nightmare urbanistically. What does “Quality Architecture” mean? Is there a list of criteria or is that just a silly opinion of people who are not designers, just amateur critics. I see a big failure in leadership here. Those residents would have frequented local businesses within walking distance and helped provide their income which is required to renovate the deteriorating neighborhood.

    • Soooo, this time you’re saying that these “new residents” and high-rise dwellers will be working nearby and revitalizing the downtown AH corridor with their income spending….

      Let me remind you that LAST TIME you all argued that the residents would be single or dual income no kids inhabitants who would work downtown SATX and are made up of this millennial-professional-crowd. Sounds to me like you will say anything to get your way.

      As for paying for infrastructure, I personally am all for it, if there is revenue coming into the city to assist (TAX BASE). But this project does not do that.

      • Are you saying that the building owner would not pay taxes? The Property Value will increase thus higher taxes will be paid. and that the residents would not walk to local restaurants and shop? It is a simple concept. It is happening all over the state of Texas. People want to have access to walk-able neighborhoods. People inhabiting neighborhoods promotes positive activity. All you have is cars driving around. Those renters would be fairly high income money spenders. Also, I don’t think you know what a high rise is. The proposed building was not a high rise, but a low-rise. “You will say anything to get you way?” It’s not my way. Its just the way it is. Have you read Jane Jacobs ” The Life and Death of Great American Cities”? give it a read. It’s all about developing diversified neighborhoods creates safer more active healthy economies.

        • Dear Bill – let’s frame the tax discussion with some accurate facts from a local tax professional who reviewed the tax revenue pro proported by the architects:

          Rich Archer (architect) skewed the numbers last night (January 13, 2014) on property tax “income” for the Alamo Manhattan Gateway project.

          Archer said the project will pay $8M over 10 yrs………..not saying this includes ALL TAXING JURISDICTIONS (Bexar & AH). This is taking the current tax rate and a $30M value then ADDING INFLATION, etc. This number he suggests also FALSELY considers the project will not be depreciated by the Bexar Appraisal District and/or Property Tax Agents protesting/appealing the annual valuation. (You can bet they will fight to keep their tax payments down.)

          So here’s the MATH:
          $30M X $23,783 p/million
          X 10 yrs
          = $7,143,900.

          Rick then projected inflation to the $8M number.
          The listeners tend to see this as $8M to the CofAH. IT IS NOT. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

          The real number to the CofAH is:
          $30M X $3,903 p/million
          = $117,084 p/yr
          X 10 YEARS
          = $1,117,083.

          Our City tax is 16.41% of the total tax paid by the taxpayer.

          In 10 YEARS there will be enough revenue recouped to pay for ONLY the FIBER OPTIC lines to be buried, this does not cover ANY of the costs that the architect have DRAWN in their rendering —

          NOTICE ALL the power lines are buried
          there are NEW SIDEWALKS
          there are NEW STREETS
          there are NEW crossWALKS
          there are NEW TREES
          all around the property there are lots of new items that this DEVELOPER is NOT PAYING FOR.
          THIS DEVELOPER IS requiring the CITY TO PAY FOR…why can’t they put some of their $30M towards this STUFF??? Or up their BUDGET to cover it? WHY should WE pay for THEIR selling POINTS? And why should we let their project continue to OVERBURDEN our schools?

          High-RISE, LOW-rise, Mid-rise….call it what you want. I will call it a LARGE BUILDING, maybe we can agree on that term. Either way, your selling points to bolster your argument are not working on some of us. And HAVE YOU READ about the cities where they do not allow over DENSITY occur? They thrive and their property values INCREASE b/c SCARCITY drives VALUE….NOT SURPLUS.

          thanks for your time.

          • See…This is why we can’t have nice things. You don’t want a nice city? You won the battle. You get a creepy, decaying neighborhood. Congratulations Sir. No one listens to ol’ Bill anyway. Good day sir.

        • Bill – if anyone has an interest in this project passing it’s the BEXAR county and the city of SA b/c the balance of tax revenue after the tiny bit that goes to AH will go to THEM!

          If Andy is right, then the $7 MILLION DOLLARS remaining is QUITE A BOON to the BEXAR pocketbook.

          Where else are they going to get that kind of BIG PAYOUT in one STOP???

          Now we know why certain former CITY of SA folk are now showing up in Alamo Heights to suddenly run for City Council SEATS. Its a high stakes game!

          Looks like Alamo Heights 09’ers are getting out-maneuvered by the San Antonio Folks!

          This is PRICELESS.

    • Bill, ‘quality architecture’ is Peacock’s term. Just because he isn’t a designer doesn’t make it a silly opinion. I am a retired professional designer so that doesn’t make me an amateur critic. I was referring to his statement
      ” In order to live into this vision, we have always believed that any new development plan has needed to contain three key elements: 1) quality architecture, 2) a use that is beneficial to our community, and 3) economic viability.”

  6. You only have to look back and remember how many “No High Rise” yard signs there were at the time the voting was happening in January to get a feeling for the overall majority of residents’ view on this matter. A viewpoint further endorsed through the lack of any yard signs in favor of the Manhattan project. There seems to be a vocal minority with questionable motivation seeking to impose something on a community that clearly does not want it. Either let’s have a referendum on it and be done with it, or move on. The Manhattan project was clearly inappropriate for the location.

    • Taxpayers pay for their environment, it is true. The design and quality of the taxpayers’ environment are a reflection of their values. New, urban projects show that a community has optimism about the future. Providing quality infrastructure shows a faith in the future and an investment for the future generation. While land holding and obstructionism shows poor values and lack of vision. It will be boring and disappointing to see how nothing happens there. Does the blight meet the almighty & vague criteria of …repeat with me “1) quality architecture, 2) a use that is beneficial to our community, and 3) economic viability?”
      An investment requires a first cost and then over time earns returns. Is that a major intersection in a reputable city? or is it the middle of nowhere?

      • Just because you say it, Bill, doesn’t make it true. Where does preservation of open spaces and natural parks fall into your modern urban projects theory that you are espousing? How does saving them and open spaces and quiet neighborhoods with grass in the yards for children to play fit into your statement that if we don’t build urban projects we have given up on our future? Your little millenial friends have really snowed you. Its a HIGHWAY intersecting with a major road…it has always been a place where you do NOT walk your dog. ITS HIGH TRAFFIC area for ingress and egress. But hey! build a city center in the middle of an intersection if it suits you.

  7. The cost to put in the sewer and water lines is over $2 million dollars…that’s just to get the large building built, never mind all the other stuff that Andy mentioned.

  8. Julian, the owners and developers don’t want a referendum. That is why this May election is important . Those favoring high rises on Broadway ( or the Build it and they will come crowd) are working hard to make city council their rubber

    Bill, the taxpayers should not have to subsidize developers.

  9. Bill – Who says Alamo Heights is creepy and decaying? WOW! Now there’s an opinion for you. You should talk to the Realtors over at Kuyper and Phyllis Browning. They may not have the same point of view as you about that. I’m fairly certain that there are several of us who do not think our neighborhood is creepy, nor decaying. And for that matter, our blue ribbon schools are just that in all of San Antonio. You my dear sir, are way out of line to say that Alamo Heights is creepy. No one should listen to old bill anyway given the performance here. How disappointing to find out what charlatans we have in public office and in our community.

    Crispin – You said it best; this election in May is important because these folks want to seat a council that will pass their project. They do not want to take this to a citizen vote or put it in front of this council again.

    Julian is 100% correct. There are more neighbors who DONT want this than DO, but that is not deterring the determined and their elected advocates. We all know who they are…..

  10. There is a lot of peer pressure and shaming to conformity here in AH. Andy is a good example of a man that attacks people personally for having a different opinion. I don’t have a lot of years left and I can’t get around like I used to, but I think that area of Broadway and especially up Austin Hwy is an uncomfortable place to be outside of a car. I thought this project would make some good sidewalks and safer eyes on the street. Like back in the day when Broadway was a real vibrant city street. I hope I didn’t offend you folks. I used the word creepy because that’s the word my wife always uses in places she sees that look run down.

    • Has Austin Highway @ Broadway EVER BEEN a comfortable place to be out of a car? Since you are getting older are you planning to venture out on the sidewalks more? Why venture to this intersection? Why not down near Cappy’s and la Madeline? There’s actually shops down there. AUS HWY is an intersection. Of a major Texas highway and BROADWAY. Hardly a place for a stroll. I think ol Bill is the one doing the shaming and babe calling. FWIW.

  11. In the article, and I quote “….and now that we control the property again we are determined to demolish the improvements as soon as possible”.

    Demolish the improvements? I’m confused…maybe I’m not reading that correctly.

  12. Bill, you are correct that the sidewalks are crumbling and yes downtown could use sprucing to put it mildly, but the project that was presented for more than 18 months ( unknown to taxpayers for most of that time) was not going to bring about repairs to the sidewalk or growth to downtown. It was great for the developers but not for the taxpayers. Yes there are folks who don’t want anything over the traditional two story building. But most taxpayers would agree that the problems with downtown Broadway aren’t going to be fixed by a four story luxury apartment complex at Ausway. Isn’t it great that you and your wife are not forced to get out of your car on ‘creepy’ Broadway-Alamo Heights. Perhaps the money AH saved by not having to subsidize Alamo Manhatten or Gateway can be used to improve sidewalks and parking.

    • Great Point Crispin! I like the idea of using our tax dollars to redo the sidewalks and bury the power lines in downtown from austin highway to central market. That would be lovely!

  13. Crispin is correct. The May election is critical. I have already received an email from the architect wanting to know if I will support a 4 story before he supports me in the election, because he doesn’t want to “jeopardize the possibility of resurrecting the Alamo Heights Gateway project or others like it.”
    It isn’t dead folks.

  14. I am a big proponent of buried utilities. Unfortunately, the monies that CPS will ( or has) returned to AH is being used to cover the cost overruns on the city facilities .

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