The 450 people gathered for the fourth State of the Center City address on Tuesday – hosted by Centro San Antonio and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – were taken on a virtual tour of San Antonio’s urban core by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1).
The tour mirrored last year’s drone video that took viewers on a sky view trip around the center city, but this time a camera crew followed Treviño through the downtown city streets by car, by foot, and by bus as he met with several city and institutional leaders to discuss progress and the economic impact the urban core has on local residential and business communities. As a “City by Design,” there were many points of interest and anticipated projects featured.
Key players in education, healthcare, and accessibility and sustainability shared their efforts in making San Antonio a leader in each area. Judy Babbitt of the City Disability Access Office said promoting accessibility by incorporating a universal design in everything from housing and transportation to education is essential so that “people of all kinds, especially those with disabilities that have a difficult time with the system … can be freed of that burden of having to worry about where they go.”
Rene Dominguez, director of the Economic Development Department, and Clarissa Ramon, Community Impact manager for Google Fiber, discussed the growing tech ecosystem in San Antonio, and how incubators like Geekdom and Café Commerce are key to establishing a larger tech community in the city. But with that growth, also comes a need for increased affordable housing, and improvements in infrastructure and transportation. After boarding a bus driven by Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), Treviño and Jeff Arndt, president and CEO of VIA Metropolitan Transit, discussed the new VIVA bus branch that will connect major cultural, artistic, and historical points in the city.
Jerry Ruiz, executive director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and Katy Luber, Kelso director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, emphasized the need to expose the multitude of artistic talent and traditions in the city to a national audience. Similarly, Susan Snow, archaeologist for the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, touched on the importance of honoring and preserving San Antonio’s Spanish-colonial missions, which received UNESCO World Heritage designation last July, for residents and visitors alike.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a seventh generation San Antonian or if you just moved here two months ago, the Missions have shaped who you are as a person and as a citizen in San Antonio. We can’t escape it,” Snow stated in the film.
The Alamo is not only a tourism hub, but also one of San Antonio’s most prominent historical markers. Mayor Ivy Taylor and Gene Powell, an Alamo Endowment Board member, said they’re looking forward to working with consultants on the Alamo Master Plan to “make it a world class site.”
“The Alamo is such a critical part, a central part of San Antonio,” Taylor said in the film. “When people think of San Antonio they tend to think of the Alamo, but we know that it doesn’t just belong to us, it belongs to the state, it belongs to our entire nation as a great demonstration of what our historical trajectory has been as a community.”
Centro Board Chairman and Frost Bank SA President Don Frost, who gave the afternoon’s closing remarks, said San Antonio’s continued progression will take collaboration.
“There’s a lot of buzz going on downtown but there’s still a lot of work to be done, and no one person can get that work done, no one councilman can get that work done,” he said. “It’s all of us.”
Top image: Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) speaks with Rene Dominguez, director of the City’s Economic Development Department, and Clarissa Ramon, community impact manager for Google Fiber. Image taken from screenshot.