Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the San Antonio River Authority’s search for a construction manager to lead the San Pedro Creek Project, in an attempt to get the development back on track.
Commissioners also approved the use of an additional $1.9 million to fund project redesigns for the $206.8 million development.
Click here to View SARA Presentation to Bexar County Commissioners Court.
River Authority officials will advertise a request for qualifications (RFQ) for interested construction firms by the end of this week, and return to Commissioner’s Court with firm recommendations in March. A selection committee, comprised of three Bexar County officials and two River Authority staffers, will vote to select the project contractor in May 2016.
Local architecture firm Muñoz and Co. collaborated with independent landscape architect Mario Schjetnan for project redesigns in late 2015, which put the project nine months behind, but the project’s construction will run on schedule. The County has allocated $125 million to the project, but it remains unclear how the remainder of the project will be funded, or whether it will be added to the 2017 Municipal Bond.
The majority of the project’s first phase of construction, which begins at the Tunnel Inlet at IH-35 and West Quincy Street and extends to César Chavez Boulevard, will be completed in time for the City’s Tricentennial celebrations on May 5, 2018.
River Authority project manager Kerry Averyt said the project 100% designs will be completed by Nov. 2016, and pre-construction will begin as early as this summer.
“That would be wonderful,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “The city has been looking forward to this for a long time.”
The $1.9 million will also help the project meet right-of-way expectations from Commerce Street to Travis Street, Averyt said, and restore parking at Penner’s. Negotiations continue with the owners of the Dollar General store on West Commerce Street, a piece of land needed for the project.
“The biggest thing (in phase I construction) is the Tree of Life,” SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott. “We’ll have a place where we can have a legitimate event or something associated with the (Tricentennial celebrations).”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo expressed concerns for the cultural authenticity of the project; potential contractors may not be familiar with San Antonio culture.
“We don’t want another River Walk,” said Elizondo. “This should have the cultural feel of the West area downtown.”
The firms’ cultural understanding of the project will be measured and account for 35% of the entire RFQ evaluation. The River Authority will also re-address the cultural siginificance of the project before the selected firm begins work in May.
“We’re going to have to really work with the contractor that is selected in this process to make sure that they engage in local participation,” Scott said.
The firm will also have to create a communication plan to reach small businesses and residents in the community. The project is expected to bring new businesses and economic development to the West area of San Antonio.
“We have some precedent with the renovation at the AT&T Center for (creating jobs for) the second chance community,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert. “There were some folks around the AT&T Center as well as who came out of Bexar County jail who were able to get jobs. … I think its important that the community realizes the San Pedro Creek Project is an economic stimulus.”
River Authority officials have already encouraged locals to work with project contractors, and plan for a number of local craftsmen to help build or paint signage or features for the San Pedro Creek Project.
“We’ll continue any kind of outreach we need to get folks those jobs on this side,” Scott added.
*Top Image: Kerry Averyt, the project manager at SARA for San Pedro Creek, presents the latest San Pedro Creek timeline to the Bexar County Commissioners. Photo by Lea Thompson.