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Curious about what kind of businesses could soon be located in Hemisfair Park? Hemisfair staff hosted a meeting at the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects on Thursday to answer questions from interested guests about the available spaces – three historic homes – at Hemisfair Park and the request for interest (RFI).
The homes will become part of Yanaguana Garden when it is completed in mid-2015.
The meeting drew at least a dozen questions from guests, who were interested in lease terms (there will be five to seven-year leases, with longer contracts for businesses with access to more capital), utilities, parking, grease traps, restrooms, and more.
Omar Gonzalez, director of planning, operations, and development for Hemisfair, said it is seeking a variety of new businesses that would breathe new life into the buildings, along with the possibility of outdoor vendors such as kiosks. The Hemisfair board, made up of 11 volunteer members approved by City Council, is not seeking occupancy by national franchises.
“We want local businesses to come into Hemisfair,” he said. “We are looking for tenants that help activate and inform the character of Yanaguana Garden.”
Applications are due Nov. 26, and construction on the Water and Nueva street portions of the project are expected to be underway by January. The Hemisfair board will be selecting applicants between Dec. 1-19 – a process that may include site visits, interviews, questions about business plans, and more. Tenants will be notified of the next steps by Dec. 19.
This project will involve $4.4 million in 2012 bond funds that will go toward restoration of the interiors of the Koehler, Espinoza, and Pereida buildings at the site of the future park. There are a total of 10 historic homes in Hemisfair Park that could be restored to house new businesses.
The City plans to connect the historic buildings to the streets surrounding Hemisfair Park to create a space with more of a local feeling that is pedestrian-friendly – an initiative that could involve the transformation of South Alamo Street into a “complete street” with protected bike lanes, walkability, accessibility, safety, and parking, Gonzalez said.
The Pereida building, completed in 1883, includes 1,640 sq. ft. of available space and is the largest of the three buildings, also sporting front and rear covered porches.
Hemisfair envisions the Koehler and Espinoza buildings, at 1,464 sq. ft. and 1,473 sq. ft., respectively, sharing a new wooden deck to promote cross-traffic and create a complementary environment between the businesses. A single tenant could lease both buildings as a single shared business or two separate businesses under a single brand, such as a bakery, coffee shop, deli market and café, or as a bar and restaurant, according to the RFI.
Tenants will be responsible for providing signage for their buildings, though the City is working with an Austin-based company to provide signage and directions for certain areas of the park.
In addition, the group plans to add public art to the park through the Public Art San Antonio Program, supported by bond funds and initiated through the Department for Culture and Creative Development.
Artist Stuart Allen was approved by the Public Art Board in March after presenting his concept design, which included proposals from eight San Antonio for the new Yanaguana Gardens project.
As part of the Civic Park initiative, slated for completion in 2018, Hemisfair envisions renting spaces at Yanaguana Garden for weddings and other public events, too.
The Civic Park’s new design will include demolition of part of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center under the architectural guidance of Seattle-based landscape architecture firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol.
Hemisfair wants RFIs from parties interested in development of amenities on the grounds of Yanaguana Garden that will “activate” the grounds.
On Sept. 10, Hemisfair issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to draw interest from developers for the Public-Private Partnership (P3) opportunity for the Water Street Development site, a housing, parking and retail facility.
“We’re looking for a developer with urban, mixed-use experience – ideally, the new project would include a wood over concrete podium garage with parking space for the structure itself, residents, and also the general public,” Gonzalez said of the P3 opportunity.
“We want to wrap that garage with multi-family units to increase the density of residential opportunities downtown,” he said.
Five-hundred total parking spaces will be built into Yanaguana Garden as part of the phased parking rollout, with a temporary parking lot providing 70 spaces in a lot north of the Kampmann Building, home of the Magik Theater, 300 to 400 spaces at the P3 project, and 40 on-street spaces on Nueva Street.
*Set/featured image: Omar Gonzalez, director of planning, operations, and development for the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp., speaks to a group of interested tenants about the upcoming Request for Information for the Yanaguana Garden project. Photo by Katherine Nickas.