Brooks City Base: Where History Greets the Future

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The Landings Club House Brooks City-Base

The Landings Club House at Brooks City Base. Courtesy photo.

Fifth in a Series: A Rising Southside

This week we are publishing postings from people driving the economic and cultural redevelopment of the Southside. We welcome submissions from readers who want to share their own views on a rising Southside. [Read more: “It’s The Decade of Downtown, But Don’t Miss San Antonio’s Rising Southside.]

Leo Gomez, president and chief executive officer of Brooks City-Base.

I’ve been a San Antonio resident for more than 20 years, but life has come full circle for me in my new role as president and CEO of Brooks City Base. After all, I built my first house on the southeast part of town, just a rock’s throw away from the Brooks campus.

People in San Antonio don’t equate this part of the city with science, technology and medical breakthroughs, but they should. You could fill a museum at Brooks documenting the history of military and space innovation that took place at Brooks Air Force Base over the decades.

Brooks City-Base signature gateway. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy / Brooks

Brooks City Base signature gateway. Courtesy photo.

The foundation for those accomplishments dates back to the nation’s first efforts in aeronautical defense training a little more than a century ago. The base was home to some of the most important breakthroughs in science and technology used to prepare NASA astronauts for space exploration and Air Force pilots for advanced flight and missions that gave our military superior technology and skills.

Now, as the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination nears in November, many in our city will remember the last public speech he delivered at the former Brooks Air Force Base School of Aerospace Medicine the day before he died. This turned out to be his last official act as president. The National Geographic Channel is developing a documentary to air in mid-November that traces the last 24 hours of JFK’s life, and much of it was filmed at Brooks City Base last month.

The historical aspects of the campus don’t stop there. My office is right down the street from historic Hangar 9, the oldest wooden hangar still standing in its original location in the United States. The Lieutenant Sidney Brooks memorial gravesite is another significant landmark on the campus. Readers interested in learning more about Brooks’ rich history dating back to early aviation can click here.

Historic Hangar 9 at Brooks City-Base. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy / Brooks

Historic Hangar 9 at Brooks City-Base. Courtesy photo.

We pay tribute to the history of Brooks even as we develop a new vision for our future. A remarkable transformation already is underway.  Since the closure, Brooks City Base has developed as a research and technology park. Parts of the 1,200-acre campus certainly look like a research and technology park – namely DPT Laboratories and the new Mission Trail Baptist Hospital.

But what is most notable to first-time visitors is the thriving mixed-use community taking shape, with residential, education, commercial, retail, and office space all developing together. An abundance of land reflects the great opportunity for future growth. We recently decided that the best way to make the most of our own historic opportunity is to conduct a search  for a master developer that can lend expertise in how we develop and make sure the necessary infrastructure is put in place.

Brooks City-Base mixed use community includes office space, education facilities, residential communities and retail hubs. Courtesy Photos.

Brooks City Base, a fast-growing mixed use community, includes office space, education facilities, residential communities and retail hubs. Courtesy Photos.

Today, 20-plus businesses operate on campus, and account for approximately 2,500 jobs. at current growth rates it won’t be long before we equal and then surpass the 3,000 jobs that were lost with the closure of the air force base. Workers here earn an average annual salary of almost $50,000 – significantly more than the city’s median income.

Brooks City Base’s new vision and mission is to embrace what it’s meant to be, what it has been all along, a mixed-use community that supports the needs of the surrounding area’s residents. We’ve listened to the market, and one significant demand we are meeting is people’s expectation of accessible, quality education for their children.

We are now home to the Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, a STEM accredited and top performing charter school that focuses on preparing K-12 students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and science. SAISD’s Mission Academy is just a few minutes away from the campus. Brooks City Base also hosts more than 1,800 students from Texas A&M-San Antonio who are enrolled in undergraduate business courses here.

Brooks Academy of Science and EngineeringBrooks Academy of Science and Engineering

Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering. Courtesy photo.

The Landings at Brooks City Base, a new 300-unit, multi-family apartment development by the NRP Group that opened last summer, is alive with young families and people that work at the local hospital, the schools on campus, and area companies that service the Eagle Ford shale play in nearby South Texas. We’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that as The Landings quickly reached full capacity at market rate, the average tenant income is about $76,000, double the projected figure.

Most of the current residents are able to walk to work, stop at a coffee shop, enjoy a choice of nearby entertainment venues, and come home to a beautiful place – no wonder it was this year’s Best Residential Development according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

The Landings Club House Brooks City-Base

The Landings Club House at Brooks City Base. Courtesy photo.

We see Brooks City Base as the gateway to a new future not only for a former military base but also for the historically underestimated area it serves.  As we survey our surroundings and see the tremendous transformation all along the San Antonio River and the historic Missions and our drive to become a World Heritage Site, we know there is much more to come in the years ahead. Brooks City Base will be a very big part of that change and growth. We invite you to join us on that journey.


President and Chief Executive Officer, Leo Gomez, is responsible for the executive leadership of Brooks City Base (BCB) and the Brooks City Base Foundation. Before joining Brooks City Base, Leo held the position of Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for Spurs Sports & Entertainment since 1996. He left Spurs Sports & Entertainment for two years to serve as General Manager of Administration with Toyota Manufacturing, Texas before returning to Spurs Sports & Entertainment in 2005. Leo has also served as President of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. 


Related Stories:

A Boyhood Remembered, a World Heritage Site Anticipated

The Missions: Our Southside Spiritual and Cultural Anchors

The Mission Reach: Bringing Life and Pride Back to the Southside

It’s the Decade of Downtown, But Don’t Miss San Antonio’s Rising Southside

Rain Date: Historic San Antonio River Mission Reach Party on Oct. 5

Toyota Investing in Tomorrow’s Southside Role Models

One of the Last Inner City Trailer Parks Going Condo


18 thoughts on “Brooks City Base: Where History Greets the Future

  1. Dear Mr. Gomez and Ms. Martinez,

    Brooks Development Authority released a press release on August 16, 2013, where you, Mr. Gomez as CEO, state that Brooks City Base, “is where history greets the future”. Therefore, if BDA truly believes this, then I am requesting that you and ACS remove the handcuffs that are stipulated in your lease agreement that closes ACS’s Brooks Facility to the public. I am also requesting that you allow directional signage, as the location is difficult to find. The facility is also in great need of repair, with multiple broken kennels and various issues like sewage backup etc, these all need to be addressed and corrected.

    ACS continually claims the reason Brooks is closed to the public is because of BDA’s inflexibility regarding their lease agreement with your organization. I am confident that in light of this recent article, BDA surely does not want to be identified with the senseless killing of dogs. Don’t you?

    Regardless of what live release ACS touts, Brooks dogs that go unseen only have one live release percentage – 0%.

    The only way things will change is if we, as taxpayers and citizens, inform the decision makers such as yourself that we want policy to change.

    If you have any questions or wish to discuss further, please let me know.

    Sincere regards,

    Kelly Plessala

  2. Since you are leading such a great push for the future, will you please amend the lease for ACS so that people are allowed to check at the Brooks shelter for animals. It seems that would be a great addition to what you are doing. We all hope you will help in this way so animals can be adopted instead of killed.

    Thank You!

  3. Dear Mr. Gomez, I think its a great thing to improve and promote the Southside. On the other hand, the Brooks dogs housed on Brooks city base are being euthanized daily. The kennels they are housed in are in disrepair. Letting this happen does not speak well for this city, nor does it say much about the people who let this happen. Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, Debra Harlach

  4. Mr. Gomez,

    I am glad that you take pride in your residency here in San Antonio. Part of that pride coincides with your planning renovate the Brooks City-Base; as it has much military and technological history. While although the plans for an extensive apartment complex and coffee shop sound highly appealing, there is a current situation at this location that should not be overlooked. Presently the Brooks City-Base is being utilized as an overflow for Animal Care Services. Dogs are housed in kennels without air conditioning and kept in deplorable conditions. Animal Care Services takes great strides in preventing these dogs from being seen to the public, and unfortunately the only people they get to see are those employed to euthanize them.
    While although I recently relocated here from Virginia Beach, Virginia I have never heard of such a kennel like the one at Brooks. My home city and surrounding cities in the Hampton Roads area take pride in their community. Hampton Roads is compassionate about our animals and prevent facilities like this from even existing.
    Mr. Gomez, when I think of Brooks City-Base, my mind’s imagery does not create modern architectural buildings, and swanky coffee shops; its the horrified faces of all the inhabitants at the ACS kennels. In order to remove this stigma associated with this location, please take the necessary steps in order to negotiate policy changes with Animal Care Services. By doing so you would be giving these dogs hope, rather than the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

    Thank you.

  5. How can you say your bringing pride back to the Southside. Are you proud, that you have a kill shelter, where dogs don’t even get a chance to be adopted. Are you proud that all the puppies under 4 months old are killed inhumanely with a heart stick. Until you fix these problems, you have nothing to be proud of.

  6. Mr. Gomez,
    The taxpayers are paying for Brooks ACS. Since they are paying for it, who are you to ban them from accessing something they are paying for? These dogs are being KILLED because they have virtually no chance of being seen and adopted. How do you sleep at night? If this is the “Gateway to the Future”, God help us all.

  7. Brooks City needs to change their animal control policy or it will become known as the city that hides family pets, refuses to let people in to check for them, refuses to SHOW the animals housed there, refuses to post pics to a visible website to enable searches for them or rescues, THEN asks to limit even further the time that those poor INNOCENT pets have there! So that you can kill them sooner!!! So sad, why don’t you just authorize the shooting of them immediately on the street…? I mean SomeOne Arbitrarily decides which animal essentially Lives or Dies, as Hillary Clinton said “what’s the diffence” YOU need to decide, if you want to be know as the city that KILLS or the city that tries to Save innocent animals that only try to soothe humans and do no harm. There are over 5000 likes for this page on FB and petitions starting soon, NOT the kind of marketing your city needs, so correct you bad behavior or it will be a very sad story nationwide

  8. Dear Mr. Gomez and Ms. Martinez,
    I respectfully ask that the Brooks Development Authority amend it’s lease with ACS and open this facility to the public.
    I believe the initial reason that BDA had this clause was due to military ‘experiments’ involving animals.
    Since this no longer takes place, the public should be allowed onsite to reclaim their pets or to be viewed for adoption.

    On Friday’s WOAI 10p newscast, Mr. Lefgren with ACS said himself that they know these were “all pets with owners that were looking for them”.

    Please allow this hidden facility housing so many ACS overflow animals to be seen. It’s the right thing to do and now is the time.
    Trish Isbell

  9. Mr. Gomez, the dogs at Brooks City Base are not being treated humanely. Due to the rental agreement , no one can go visit the dogs, so they will not have a chance to be adopted. They do not even give the dogs brought in names or vet care. The next thing they know, they are shuttled back to ACS 151 where they are killed by lethal injection. Please amend the agreement or tell whoever is doing business with you that you cannot house the dogs as many parts of the kennel are in disrepair.

  10. Mr Gomez, while I respect the fact that you do not have power of the hold period of dogs by the ACS, nor have any control in they way they write their rules of operating, you ARE in fact in control of the Brooks facility where many dogs die every day unseen by the general public.
    Imagine a family member or friend that loses a dog, they go to the main 151 campus to look for it, totally unaware that Brooks dogs exist, They dont see their dog and come away never knowing their dog was at Brooks and slated to die with hours. Surely this is not fair or reasonable. Please allow the public access to view the dogs, it could easily be controlled by appointment so the facility is not flooded with people all at once. For every problem there is a solution, access to Brooks dogs is a problem, please provide the solution.

  11. It is truly amazing to see such revitalization efforts being done to take Brooks City Base into the future. As the daughter of a veteran, I am very proud of the military history housed here in my home state and especially, San Antonio.

    What I am not proud of is how our city, city officials and Brooks Development Authority is allowing for the dogs housed at Brooks City Base to be treated. It is to my understanding that you are new to your position, so I am hopeful that you will change the terms of your lease agreement with the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services as they continue to lay blame at Brooks Development Authority’s doorstep as to why these animals are hidden from the public view.

    Please find attached a link to a video that shows your property that houses these dogs, it is far from state of the art. No heating or air-conditioning, vermin, snakes, scorpions, fleas ticks, sewage and broken kennels that have been in disrepair for extended periods of time, just to name a few. Is this why Brooks Development Authority does not want this facility seen by the public?

    The citizens of San Antonio who care about the animals that the city is entrusted to care for is coming to you, the one in power to make positive change asking for help. Please do not let us done. Mean what you say by taking Brooks into the future and make this daughter of a veteran once again proud of San Antonio.

    Mary Weldon

  12. Mr. Gomez,

    I was shocked to find out about the “brooks babies” dogs housed at the shelter that will not be seen by the public. You and your company have obviously done your market research about who will be moving into your apartments, going to schools on the base and generally living there lives on and around the brooks city base. The family’s and young adults that you are targeting are very contious about the environment and are increasingly seeing there pets as members of the family, I find it hard to believe that you would make souch a grose mistake as to lease this facility under the turns that have been released, basically condemning dogs to death without a chance to be seen. It is shocking disappointing and desterbing. The publicity that you will revive from this one small area could if given time taint the whole development, I hope that you will help the brooks babies any way that you can, changing the lease, helping possibly with legal guidance to let these babies be seen by the public.

    Thank you,

    Megan Barnett

  13. Mr. Gomez and Ms. Martinez,

    I don’t understand why the Brooks ACS facility is being left behind in your future vision for Brooks City Base. Dogs that are unlucky enough to be housed at Brooks instead of the 151 campus face significant barriers to adoption because, per your lease agreement, the facility is not open to the public. These wonderful, adoptable dogs deserve a chance at adoption or rescue. How can the BDA condone the daily killing of these dogs because they are hidden from public view? Please amend the lease agreement with ACS to allow public access and provide signage to make Brooks ACS easier to find. This hidden facility is incongruous with the other great progress at Brooks City Base, and it does not reflect well on the BDA or the city of San Antonio.

    Thank you,
    Linda Scullary

  14. Mr. Gomez,
    Now is the time to make the change to open up Brooks ACS Facility to the public! It’s way past overdue! Housing this percentage of dogs here, with no exposure is an injustice for them as well as the potential adopters who might add one to their family! It saddens me that these dogs barely have a chance to survive this shelter. It is our duty to help these animals find a home, not to just house them for their stray hold, then head straight to euthanization!
    Please, I beg of you to make to help make a difference for these helpless animals!
    Sincerely, Michele Besch

  15. You have it in your power to save lives while you are rehabilitating Brooks City Base. Simple and easy—let the public in to see the dogs housed at Brooks Animal Care Services branch. Put up signs showing people how to find the buildings. You could even donate to re-building the kennels so they are not hot in summer, cold in winter, and look like a walk down death row. That’s exactly what it is for the dogs there if they cannot be seen.
    I have Brooks dogs- both my own and fosters. Most of these dogs go straight to this facility, and are lucky if they get a lousy photo posted on A.C.S.’s web pages.
    If I had not been able to go there, if caring people had not been able to take decent photos of these dogs and post them on Facebook, if good people in rescue did not make all this public, then all these dogs would die, not just the least fortunate, ALL OF THEM.
    Please do the right thing and help these animals. They deserve a chance. They shouldn’t have to die because humans don’t act responsibly.

  16. Mr. Gomez,
    I respectfully ask this of you, STEP UP AND DO SOMETHING FOR SAN ANTONIO’S DOGS SITTING ON DEATH ROW AT BROOKS. You know there is a serious problem here. No need to go into the details you know exist. Hidden among all the progress being made at Brooks, down a dirt gravel road, inside locked gates, are dogs waiting on heroes that never come. Have you been there Mr. Gomez? Have you walked among the dead? Have you looked in their eyes? Heard their cries? I hope you have, and changes are on the way. If you haven’t, maybe today will be a good day to do so.

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