Weston Urban/Frost Bank Deal Clears Planning Hurdle

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The Frost Bank Tower. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The Frost Bank Tower.

The City’s Planning Commission approved three resolutions covering the key elements of the Weston Urban/Frost Bank/City of Antonio Public-Private Partnership (P3) on Wednesday, clearing the way for a public hearing at City Council on Thursday and a formal vote on the P3 proposal on June 4.

The City has posted a 54-page Comprehensive Development Agreement for the P3 in advance of tomorrow morning’s public hearing, which will begin sometime after 9 a.m. The lengthy document provides no significant new information about the complex proposed transaction, which involves multiple properties trading hands. The City is both buyer and seller in the three-way deal that promises to be the most transformative real estate development play in downtown San Antonio in decades.

The deal includes Weston Urban’s construction of the first new office tower on the city’s skyline since 1989, slated to be completed by 2019 as the new corporate home of Frost Bank, which will lease its space and sell its existing tower to the City. Taken together with the $175 million San Pedro Creek Improvement Project, downtown San Antonio’s western face will be significantly reshaped in the coming years as the city prepares the celebrate its 300th anniversary beginning in May 2018.

Lori Houston, the Center City Development and Operations Director, is expected to make the presentation to Council on Thursday, along with Randy Smith, president and CEO of Weston Urban, who said Wednesday there will be no new developments on the project until the P3 wins final Council approval.

“We have not started the design selection process yet,” Smith said. “That is the very first thing we will do after the City Council approves the project on June 4.”

From the downtown development proposal by Weston Urban and Frost Bank submitted to the City of San Antonio dated Aug. 8, 2014.

From the downtown development proposal by Weston Urban and Frost Bank submitted to the City of San Antonio dated Aug. 8, 2014.

Until an architecture firm is selected and the design work gets underway, Smith said, Weston Urban will not know the eventual height of the new tower or how many stories it will be. He repeated his earlier statement that the 265 residential units that Weston Urban will build will be priced based on the 2019 housing market.

“We firmly believe diversity of housing stock is what makes a place special,” Smith said. “When everything is the same, it’s not special. But we can’t guess what the housing market will be like in 2019, four years from now.”

The Planning Commission included the P3 proposal on its consent agenda, meaning it was approved without opposition or discussion. The approval involved passage of three separate resolutions:

The first resolution authorizes the disposition of three City-owned properties: the Municipal Plaza Building at 114 West Commerce; the former San Fernando Gym at 300 North Santa Rosa Street (also known as 319 West Travis Street); and an .286-acre parking lot at 403 North Flores Street.

The second resolution authorizes the City’s acquisition of the existing Frost Bank Tower and its 1.8 acres of land, and the attached parking garage.

The third resolution declares the former Continental Hotel and its 1.08-care land parcel at 322 W. Commerce St. as surplus property and clears the way for the City to place it on the market for sale. The historic building, which now houses the offices of San Antonio Metro Health, was part of the original Weston Urban proposal, but the parties were unable to agree on a sale price and dropped it from the deal. The City believes the San Pedro Creek project and improvements funded by the 2012 Bond for the West Commerce Cultural District will enhance the value of the property.

 

*Featured/top image: The Frost Bank Tower. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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