Officials broke ground on a new $17 million parking garage on the corner of 4th and Taylor streets on Monday, which will bring 521 spaces to the triangular lot less than one block away from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
The project was praised by City, County, and Tobin leaders as "mission critical" as events and nearby amenities steadily increase around the downtown performing arts venue.
"When we did the initial studies for what became the Tobin Center, the number one concern people had was, 'Where am I going to park?'" said J. Bruce Bugg Jr., founding board chairman of the Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation. "Today, with this groundbreaking, we're emphatically answering that question as we begin construction on the last part of the master plan for Tobin Center."
Once the garage is completed in August 2017, Bugg said the Tobin's parking needs will be met.
The Tobin Center borrowed $7 million for the project, which will be repaid through parking revenue, Bugg told the Rivard Report. The City of San Antonio and Bexar County each contributed $5 million grants for the parking garage. LAZ Parking, which operates many paid lots downtown, has been hired by the Tobin to operate the new garage which will be open to the public for a fee, but will prioritize ticket holders for Tobin events that take place throughout the day and evening.
About 14,000 sq. ft. of ground level retail space will be available in the new garage, which has the capability to host a restaurant with outdoor dining.
The northern sector of downtown, of which the Tobin is becoming the centerpiece, is already experiencing high property values and new projects since the $203 million venue opened in September 2014, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, noting proposed hotel projects and the new CPS Energy headquarters just blocks away.
"This whole area is starting to blossom," Wolff said.
The Tobin Center was ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 16 in the world by Pollstar, a concert trade publication, earlier this year. Wolff credits the Tobin for the development boom surrounding the center.
The team tasked with development and management of the venue's future saw this growth and was concerned about the Tobin being "landlocked" away from parking.
"All the space we're using for parking today is going to be developed," Bugg said. "We couldn't allow that to happen."