Construction continues on the Rivera apartment complex at 1130 Broadway St., adding 302 rental units to a growing housing base in San Antonio’s urban core along the Broadway corridor. Named for the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, the four-story apartment complex will have a clean, Cubist style and offer high-end efficiencies, one and two-bedroom units.
Its proximity to the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) played part in naming the project, formerly known simply as 1130 Broadway when construction crews broke ground in summer 2014. Austin-based developer Argyle Residential will start pre-leasing units in November and the project is expected to be complete in March 2016, according to Managing Director John Burnham.
Burnham estimates the 420 sq. ft. efficiencies may go for around $900 per month, 810 sq. ft. one-bedrooms around $1,600 per month. A big selling point, he said, will be the 8,000 sq. ft. of community space, including a pool, rooftop deck, on-site laundry, a gym, and indoor/outdoor spaces for meetings and parties.
Burnham also has been working with Broadway Ellwood on the proposed four-story, 150-unit residential and mixed-use project on the corner of Broadway and Austin Highway in the declining Alamo Heights commercial corridor. The project has been substantially scaled down from its original six-story, 240-unit design to appease a surrounding community where some are averse to change and wary of multifamily development.
The project will now be under review by the City of Alamo Heights’ design, planning and zoning commissions. It’s been more than a year since plans were abandoned by Dallas-based Alamo Manhattan, the original developers for the Broadway and Austin Highway project.
Working closely with the City of San Antonio’s Center City Development and Operations (CCDO) department, the permitting process for Rivera took a total of six months.
The CCDO has several incentive packages and programs to encourage infill development around San Antonio’s urban core, including tax rebates, fee waivers, and staff to help developers navigate the processes.
Even in Austin, Burnham said, “usually just to get your building permit it takes 10 months or more.”
“It’s like night and day,” Burnham said.
While Rivera is Argyle Residential’s first residential project in San Antonio (the Broadway-Austin Highway project may be its second), it is a Cypress Real Estate Advisors Company which partnered with other developers on 1800 Broadway.
“That project introduced us to the infill market in San Antonio,” Burnham said. “What we weren’t sure of was the effective rental rate … but 1800 exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
So he began to take a serious look at property in the area in early 2013. Argyle closed on the 1130 Broadway property, formerly a Dodge dealership, in April 2014.
“We are all beneficiaries of what Kit Goldsbury did at the Pearl. It’s ground zero for the Broadway corridor,” Burnham said. “They proved there was a demand for in-town, or almost downtown, living. Now it has a life of it’s own.”
In order to receive the City tax rebates and fee waivers, developers must adhere to certain sustainable and urban design principles. The most visible example of this at Rivera will be the separated bike lanes.
“We will effectively redo the street in front of our development,” he said.
While much of Broadway Street has a three-foot wide bike lane and/or striping, on-street parking, trash, and other debris often impairs a cyclists’ path. Companies like Argyle that are developing or redeveloping along Broadway will eventually create a patchwork of substantial bike facilities and more walkable paths.
During the design phase of Rivera, the now-abandoned streetcar project was still on table, which proved to alter the street layout a few times, Burnham said.
There will also be large parking structure on site for Rivera residents but the main entrance will be located off of Alamo Street in order to minimize disturbance to bike and pedestrian traffic on Broadway.
“We’ll be rebuilding 12th Street,” he said. “That will allow connectivity from Broadway to Alamo (streets).”
Argyle does not own the two commercial buildings on the corner of Jones and Broadway across from Maverick Park – another amenity for Rivera residents. But there is 2,800 sq. ft. of retail space within Rivera that could thrive as many different types of businesses: a restaurant or small grocery store, for instance.
Rivera on Broadway represents a “step-up” in terms of overall apartment amenities compared to others in the area, Burnham said. He expects tenants of all ages will be interested in the community-based lifestyle that the Rivera and similar complexes encourage.