24 thoughts on “Box Store Parking Lot: A First Look at Alamo Colleges’ New Headquarters

  1. Looks like typical car-centric development that shouldn’t be encouraged anywhere near the Pearl or downtown. Bummer.

  2. I too am very disappointed about the urban-sprawl approach of this design. This seems like short-sighted design. In addition, adding more traffic to the intersection of Cunningham/Broadway/Alamo is going to have a huge impact an already poorly designed intersection when combined with traffic from the Ft. Sam gate.

  3. I really hope there is push back to this massive surface parking lot. I would much rather they sell a 1 or 2 acres to a private developer to build apartments or something urban and with that revenue they build the parking garage. Or maybe they could build a pocket park on 2 acres of the land and the department of parks could contribute to this parking garage out of their budget. It seems like there are mechanisms to get this done in an appropriate manner with some inventive thinking.

  4. Robert,

    An error in an otherwise well written article is that the Alamo Community College District has four independetly accredited COLLEGES (NLC is not yet accredited), not campuses.

    “…elevate the district’s profile as the leading provider of higher education in the metro area with nearly 60,000 students enrolled at its five campuses.”

    It’s Alamo Colleges, not Alamo College as some in the district offices would like you to think.

  5. Since it’s just outside the Rio-1 overlay boundary, the property seemingly has no restrictions on design. I fear that the ACC will do what they want without any objection from the community. That needs to start now.

  6. Does anyone remember how Broadway used to flood? Take a look at the lay of the land and think about which way the water flows.

  7. Why would you designate retail businesses on such a valuable space as Playland Park .It’s not related to the college and would only increase parking demand. Build the parking garage first. Delay at Tobin Center has led to no parking years after completion.

  8. I’m an urbanist and all for denser, walkable designs.

    That said, I feel like I need to throw out an alternative view here:

    ACCD is in the enviable position to have more land than they need.

    With rideshare and emerging self driving car technology, in coming years we may see the largest change in transportation culture since the car was invented.

    Is this really the time to invest $10-20 million in a concrete storage box box cars?

    I find the trustees’ approach to wait to build the garage until they need it makes sense.

    By the time they are ready for phase 2, they may find that the market need for parking spaces is not what it is today.

    Likewise, the suggestion that ACCD should build a garage as a revenue source for parking shortage “from Pearl to Brackenridge park” seems ludicrous.

    First, it is hard to imagine a Pearl customer or park visitor driving so far away for the privilege of paying for parking, when both offer free on-site parking. Second, if that demand suddenly materializes, surface parking is just as easily rented as garage parking.

    If this were a private development, it could make sense to do a denser development to maximize the site, but this is not a private developer. This is an entity dependent on tax revenues, and this seems like a more prudent use of taxpayers investments.

    • I’ve been thinking the same thing about a lot of recent plans, especially ones that are planned to be more than a few years out. Do we really need to build huge, expensive garages that will be all but obsolete in ten years or less? I hope they make the building a few stories tall and build it in such a way that allows them to develop and/or sell off the extra land when it is no longer needed for parking.

  9. I live a block north of this proposed development. So much about this plan will add to the continued stresses on our Westfort neighborhood. What angers me most, I think, is their utter lack of respect for the neighborhood, its history, its residents. They are going to use this giant asphalt area as an income source? It’s bad enough they’d conceive of building it to meet their own needs, but to also deface the area (IMO) to generate additional income seems irresponsible at best, reprehensible at worst – I hope citizens will come to the community meeting noted in the article (Pearl Brewery, Full Goods Building, 2nd floor, 6 p.m. Thursday, 7/28) to express their opinions.

    • While I’d much rather see a garage than a surface lot, I don’t follow why an income producing lot or garage would be bad or disrespectful? The area needs more parking as new buildings are being built. Urban density is likewise much better for the environment and quality of life.

  10. This is why I’m proud to be a RR member. Many of us wouldn’t even know about this without you writing this piece. We need to do better. How many event centers are there in the surrounding area? The Pearl, Witte, UIW, are just a few off the top of my head. It seems to me like that’s not something that is necessary.

    Additionally, I like the thinking above regarding selling off land to fund a parking garage. Continuing that line of thinking, if some land were sold off or ground leased for apartments, perhaps Alamo could stipulate that the parking garage for the apartments have surplus parking spaces that can be used by visitors to the HQ? Disappointed that the stakeholders aren’t thinking creatively.

    • MS, thank you for this thoughtful comment. We’d like readers to know that whether they agree with my viewpoint they are being made aware of a major development they otherwise might not know about, and they have been alerted to a meeting this week they are welcome to attend that otherwise would go unnoticed and unattended. Speaking for everyone here, many thanks for your membership. –RR

  11. THREE associated architect firms worked on this design and the best we get is a tired rehash. We could pave the county and not solve transport problems. Please tell us how much money the Alamo Colleges have spent on their design so far.

    • It may be unfair to jump on the architects at this point. As noted in the article, the renderings only represent possible spatial layouts. You would think the architects are providing options per the requirements provided them by Alamo Colleges. If so, it’s not the architects’ fault that SAC is seeking a regressive site plan. That said, you would also hope that the architects are pointing out to SAC how regressive the current possible site plans are and suggesting progressive alternatives.

      • John

        I’d like to add to your message by saying the three design firms involved in the project do quality work, and given the opportunity, surely would design a more sustainable project. These are site renderings, not designs, but the size of the parking lot speaks for itself. If the client demands it, the designers have no choice but to deliver it. I am sure they will suggest alternatives, perhaps more diplomatically than I have done in my article.

        For those who believe a revenue-generating parking garage or mixed-use amenities somehow do not mix with the Alamo Colleges public mission, I would suggest a visit to other colleges. The employees certainly would appreciate a good coffee shop or healthy breakfast/lunch spot on their district campus.

        A parking garage sited near the Josephine Street property line would be a five-minute walk to Pearl and not much more to the Witte and Do-Seum. It would be useful for everything from farmer’s market days to Fiesta parades. The Alamo Colleges could charge visitors and event center users for parking, just as every UT campus, including UTSA, does. –RR

        • A parking garage at the Josephine street intersection would by .63/mi to the Do-seum and 1.34 miles to the Witte.

          Parking garage or not. Nobody will be walking these distances with any regularity.

  12. I wanted to follow up by saying some 10 Westfort neighbors attended last night’s meeting, were given time to speak, heard the proposed plans, and toured the site with the architects, CAC representatives and ACCD representatives. More Westfort neighbors would have attended had we known about the meeting sooner – many thanks to this report for letting us know about it. The architects, CAC and ACCD reps were very welcoming to us and we’ve arranged to be informed of and attend their subsequent meetings. While we still have significant concerns about traffic issues and other impact issues, I very much appreciated the welcome we received and the indication our concerns will be heard, going forward. I also found many of the proposed plans and features very positive – but as Ms. Ray with the CAC noted to us several times, those are only possibilities at this point. Still, I had a much more positive impression of the plans and intentions for this development following last night’s meeting.

    • Denise, I, too, attended the meeting and the site visit and will post a follow up story this weekend. I believe the neighborhood interest and especially the input of the Citizens Advisory Commitee, and yes, the Rivard Report coverage, will end up having a by positive influence on the outcome. That already was evident yesterday.

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