San Antonio, Under Construction: We’re Not Slowing Down

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San Antonio's downtown skyline, looking southeast from the top of the Weston Centre. Photo by Kara Gomez.

Kara Gomez for the Rivard Report

San Antonio's downtown skyline, looking southeast from the top of the Weston Centre.

If the past year in San Antonio was an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” Summer 2014 would cue the narrator to say, “But backstage the band was falling apart.”

The optimistic “City on the Rise” bubble started to burst when former Mayor Julián Castro stepped down from his post to join the Obama Administration. Castro had kicked off the “Decade of Downtown” in 2009 after his election, and when he left for Washington many San Antonians thought progress left with him.

Other news coming out of City Hall did not help this perception. The VIA Streetcar died. Police and City negotiations stalled. City Council voted to roll out some of the most restrictive rideshare regulations in the country, chasing away Uber and Lyft. One might think that The Decade of Downtown was dead. One might think our momentum as a city was gone. But if you look under the hood, you’ll realize all those assumptions are wrong.

Last year our team at the 80/20 Foundation published “San Antonio Under Construction, Project by Project.” The premise of the article was simple: we can show you the San Antonio of the future today.

If you take away one thing from this article, know the rocket that is San Antonio’s urban development has taken off. In short, as Al Aguilar, the CEO of Creative Civilization and the chairman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, aptly said, “It’s our time.”

The “Decade of Downtown” may have started as one man’s vision, but it is now the destiny of our city. While the VIA Streetcar died, Geekdom moved its 800 entrepreneurs into the historic Rand Building. While the police union negotiations came to a grinding halt before restarting, the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, Opera San Antonio, the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, and the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio found a new home in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. While rideshare was being voted down, the Alamo Beer Company brewery shined a spotlight on to a burgeoning Eastside.

If you dare to see the city we can be, open the 2015 edition of “Under Construction” (see and download document below). Next year, we hope to see a crane in the sky as the new Frost Tower breaks our skyline for the first time in 25 years. By that time there will be many more projects, and we look forward to showing you every last one of them.

Progress is indeed upon us and we are about to be the better version of ourselves.

It’s our time.

Click to download 2015 Under Construction.

 *Featured/top image: San Antonio’s downtown skyline, looking southeast from the top of the Weston Centre. Photo by Kara Gomez.

Related Stories:

San Antonio Under Construction, Project by Project

Amid Strings and Brass, Tobin Center Opens to Standing Ovation

Photo Gallery: Alamo Brewery is Open for Business

Geekdom 2014: Moving, Growing, Geeking

23 thoughts on “San Antonio, Under Construction: We’re Not Slowing Down

  1. Eagle Ford activity took a nosedive and layoffs came at the same time the economic climate improved and people started quitting again. There is usually an upside to everything. That is if you’re a glass have full kind of person. I think we are at the beginning still. We just started. Geekdom, 80/20, Cafe Commerce, and the local Makerspace 10bitworks. There is still more we can do. There are more challenges. There is still an influx of people in this region. Let’s do what we can, what we must, to succeed. Future generations of San Antonio are counting on us.

  2. Incredible report. It is another example of why Gomez is director of Geekdom and works for the 80/20 Foundation. Thanks. Those who doubt SA’s determination to move forward should read this.

  3. It’s been launching since 2000, just taken a while to get off the launch pad, but like anything in Texas it’s going to be done on a large scale. In 10-20 years we will not recognize our cities skyline. I already have Austin defectors spewing out of my social media feed. So look out and be ready to be consumed on all levels.

    We are a big city with a small town mentality, it will be interesting to see which politicians take the city slicker baits and sell out most prized possessions in terms of land and cultural resources for pennies on the dollar…

  4. Great informative article. As a minor quibble, I wish that people would stop trotting out the failure of the street car proposal as some big failure of foresight and planning. I am a big advocate of downtown living and public transit, but I can list a dozen reasons why the street car initiative was a bad idea and would have been a $300 million boondoggle of a transportation mode that nobody would use.

  5. Very impressive report! Clearly “it is our time.” Hopefully an updated edition would include the Alamodome renovations as well. The last three weekends alone saw the building and city to play host to visitors from across the state to watch the UIL Girls Basketball State Tournament, the UIL Boys State Tournament and the San Antonio Big League Weekend. I can’t wait to see the positive impact of an enhanced facility.

    • Totally agree Rick Hill.
      Just to name one. Up grades to the Alamodome are welcomed. As a season ticket holder for six seasons with the UTSA ROADRUNNERS and an alumni it embarrasses me to see out of towners from the visiting team and, horror to be sure, the traveling media and the television viewers see the very old school look of the Alamodome. The big screens are from the some prehistoric time that really looks boondocks to everyone at the games. Need I mention the seats, the concession stands, etc.?

  6. Growth just for growth sake is ridiculous. Look at most of the boxy, cookie cutter crap going up around downtown. In twenty years, it’ll age terribly.

  7. I was just having this conversation. San Antonio is not the San Antonio I came to on the 90s. Heck, it isn’t even the San Antonio of 5 yrs ago. For better or worse it is happening.

  8. Lorenzo, you forgot two in-fill developments in Dignowity Hill, in your report. Two Turner projects are in the works. One at Olive and Burleson will be 23 units on 1.2 acres, he has hired 7th generations architects firm. At the last DHNA the group was receptive to their design. Hope that helps, thanks for all you do for our city!

  9. I don’t mean to be rude about the previous comments but; with climate change and other ongoing concerns of the environment we need to start engaging the sustainable concepts and design. I can care less if 7th generation architect was in charge of the design. what I do care about is sustaining communities as well as environmental elements.

    love a +11 generation san Antonian

    • You’re being more ironic than rude, considering that the architecture firm took their name from the following quote from the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy:

      “In our way of life…with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still unborn, have a world no worse than ours – and hopefully, better.”

  10. I lived through Austin’s boom from sleepy liveability to economic, innovative and tech powerhouse.

    I didn’t know about all these efforts. It makes me proud of our city and more hopeful for our future.

    The task before us is designing and building intentionally, thoughtfully, to keep what’s best of San Antonio while guiding the growth and making informed decisions.

    This train isn’t stopping, so we need ongoing, intelligent, two-way dialog — deeper shared understanding than can be gained in a few meetings about a single proposal.

  11. Lots of great things going on in SA. It is a truly awesome time to be a resident of the city. I would like to speak specifically for the arts. While The Tobin is an amazing, world-class facility, it is important to be pragmatic in saying that the resident companies like Ballet SA, SA Symphony, Opera SA, Attic Rep, Soli Chamber Ensemble, etc. are not out of the woods. These organizations require us to be engaged with our continuing financial support. It is time for those who have the means to be bold with their contributions. These wonderful organizations do not exist in a vacuum. It remains to be seen if San Antonians will be able to sustain their existence. Also important to note that these organizations give back to our community in so many ways.

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