Scott Ball / Rivard Report
City Council unanimously approved Thursday a $6 million incentive package that will lead USAA to move up to 2,000 employees downtown over five years and create additional center city parking for its employees and the public.
The City will give the insurance and banking company a 10-year tax abatement for $2 million and five-year economic development loan for $4 million provided that the San Antonio-based company brings an additional 1,500 jobs to San Antonio through relocation or new hires and invest at least $70 million in building and garage improvement at its two downtown office towers. Another stipulation is that the public will be allowed access to USAA's current and expanded parking garages in the evenings and on weekends.
Thursday's vote is the culmination of years of collaboration among USAA, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and City staff, including City Manager Sheryl Sculley, officials said.
"We've had more conversations and work sessions on this than I can even count over the past several years," Sculley said during a press conference held after the package was approved. "Locating this many jobs downtown is catalytic and marks the largest commitment of job creation downtown in recent memory. In fact, bringing 1,500 net new jobs to San Antonio is the largest economic development deal we have done since Toyota."
Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the deal "transformative" and said it will have an "extraordinary, lasting impact on our center city and more broadly on our city as a whole. Upon completion USAA's planned investment will make [more than] 1,000 parking spaces available to the public on nights and weekends, and those places are in close proximity to the most important public gathering spots in our city including the Tobin Center, Travis Park, Southwest School of Art, and several other downtown attractions."
USAA’s corporate headquarters are located in northwest San Antonio, at 9800 Fredericksburg Rd., and it has several other offices in the San Antonio area. The company has about 19,000 employees in the region and 32,000 worldwide.
"San Antonio is home for USAA. This is where we started," said Carl Liebert, USAA executive vice president and chief operating officer. "It's a beautiful opportunity for us to create something truly special."
USAA is still working on details regarding building improvements and parking garage expansion at One Riverwalk Place, which USAA Real Estate Company purchased in 2013. It purchased the Bank of America building in August 2017.
"With this we have seen that San Antonio finally has generated the inertia and the momentum behind the 'housing first' strategy [and] behind an economic development strategy to really make the urban core in San Antonio ... one of the economic engines for the future of this great city," Nirenberg said.