For the last 4 1/2 years, it’s been my good fortune to live in San Antonio. I am a transplant to the city from the small town of Belton in Central Texas by way of College Station. It didn’t take long for this “City on the Rise” to become my home in ways I never imagined.
If I had any doubts about my affection for my adopted hometown and the people here who have become such good friends, that doubt is dispelled as I now struggle to say goodbye.
San Antonio has embraced me, challenged me, supported me, inspired me, grown me, entertained me, romanced me, believed in me, taken chances on me, encouraged my ideas and efforts, and in many ways, completely surprised me. I fell in love with San Antonio. That makes leaving it so very hard.
I’m seizing a new opportunity and daring to imagine a different life. Why not? I’m young, ambitious, optimistic, and adventurous. Opportunity will draw me away from San Antonio, yet keep me on the same self-determined path to make the world a better place.
Friends, I am Bozeman, Montana-bound, heading to a physically stunning part of the country, to a university city fueled by youthful energy and a small town ambience that reminds me of Belton, my own hometown.
A job opportunity with Beartooth Capital in Bozeman gives me the chance to apply the skills I’ve honed here in new and different ways. It’s an opportunity to keep growing while roaming the American West. I feel the same excitement and sense of adventure that past generations of my family must have felt when they headed West in search of a new life.
I am moving because this is the right opportunity (Beartooth) in the right place (Bozeman) at the right time. I am not choosing to leave San Antonio or Hixon Properties, my supportive employer, as much as I am building on the great foundation each has given me to think big and move forward in life.
As I pack my bags for Big Sky Country and move to a state with fewer people (1.1. million) than this city (1.4 million), I am acutely aware of what I am leaving and all that I will take with me. I leave with gratitude in my heart, for San Antonio, for Hixon Properties, an employer that felt more like family, and for countless organizations, groups and amazing individuals. I will miss you all immensely.
As a commercial real estate developer focused on urban infill, I’ve been right in the middle of some of the city’s most exciting projects. I began my own community involvement with a sense of duty and career development, but it became a passion. Each public meeting, committee work session, organization program, and city-wide event connected me to more remarkable people, many of whom became good friends. These are the people who caused me to really believe in San Antonio, the ones who helped change this city from a place where I moved to a place I came to call home.
What will I miss the most? Being part of revitalizing the urban core, and being part of that change alongside the talented people I met along the way. We thought we were changing San Antonio, but as it turned out, San Antonio was changing us, too. That’s what makes this such a hard goodbye.
I’ve had a front row seat on a lot of change. San Antonio is beginning to see more tangible examples of real estate development used as a tool to activate neighborhoods, engage citizens, foster connections, and build communities. Districts are being created and historic neighborhoods strengthened.
Investment by large companies, small business owners, and local stakeholders has revitalized areas such as the Pearl/ Midtown corridor, River North, Southtown, and South Flores. Even out at La Cantera, commercial real estate development is creating new opportunities for people of various ages to live, work and play in a defined geographic area.
The variety of options for San Antonians and quality of place has greatly increased over the last several years. I have been honored to be a small part of moving the needle in that arena. There is so much potential here with the right vision and leadership.
Like where? Certainly in how we continue to grow to the Northwest, and in the urban core, what we do with the many underutilized properties in River North and with the Hemisfair Park redevelopment. The center city still has many historic buildings waiting their turn for rediscovery, and many well-positioned properties in the near-Eastside around the new Alamo Brewery.
I can only begin to imagine the possibilities in the near-Westside around the new transit center development and Peanut Factory Lofts student housing project, and to the south all along the Mission Reach, and downtown, the coming San Pedro Creek redevelopment.
Don’t let it stop, San Antonio. The city and its people are building momentum, and if anything, it’s time to accelerate. By moving, I am giving up the chance to stay part of this, but I’ll still be watching closely from afar.
Private developers and public entities play a vital role in transforming a city, yet development and policy are only individual pieces of a much larger puzzle. Success depends on how people choose to enliven and define their city. Here are a few examples of where we are getting it right:
Walkable neighborhoods provide excellent opportunities to interact with neighbors. Front porches lead to dog walks lead to quick trips to grab a beer down the street to bike rides to festivals and events and then back to the balconies and front porches. The relationships I have built with neighbors in River North and Southtown have been ones of diverse perspective and shared interests. I have learned much about hospitality, selflessness, and helping others from my wonderful neighbors.
It is amazing how gathering people to do something seemingly small can make a lasting impact. Though community development buzzwords like “grassroots” or “community led” or “lighter, quicker, cheaper” adequately qualify the league, it has activated downtown space and helped build relationships among people who live and work in the downtown area in a genuine and successful way.
For two years I had the privilege of serving alongside some of the most optimistic and generous people in this community. My involvement with Awesome SA has opened my eyes to the depth of the city’s character that can be experienced through the ideas of individuals and collaboration within a community. The passion and selflessness of the applicants, trustees, and deans have inspired me to think bigger and broader while igniting a strong internal desire to dedicate myself to empowering others to reach their goals.
Urban Land Institute
Globally, it aims to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Locally, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) carries out that mission under the leadership of absolute gentlemen who happen to be a couple of the smartest and hardest working real estate leaders in our city – David Adelman and Clint Wynn. By highlighting local projects, educating public and private sector members, exposing the local real estate to community to national leaders and trends, and connecting talented members of the industry, they are applying the “rising tide lifts all boats” mantra to real estate and thereby community development. The close-knit, forward thinking urban development community in San Antonio has taught me much beyond the typical professional lessons.
Its vision is summarized as, “Young professional advocates equipped with the knowledge and resources required to transform San Antonio into a premier location for business and pleasure.” Over the last three years, LOOP has been a labor of love and hard work for me and my peers. Still in its early stages, LOOP is uniting talented young people from across the city to achieve big goals. I can hardly explain the invigoration I experienced daily by serving alongside those who aim to positively affect the trajectory and velocity of San Antonio’s growth. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” LOOP embodies Emerson’s mantra.
The Gathering Church
This downtown community of people is changing lives. Meeting in an East Ashby Street storage warehouse and former milk factory, The Gathering Church invests in the lives of families and individuals throughout the downtown area in an authentic way that builds quality relationships, fosters community and changes lives. I will miss doing life alongside these people.
San Antonio, I have learned, is a city of great people. It’s a city ready for the next generation of those great people to take their turn at making a difference. As public and private sector leadership transitions to younger generations, great potential exists to transform San Antonio and make it a healthier city and wealthier city, richer in talent, opportunity and diversity rather than material wealth, although wages will rise, too. To get there, San Antonio needs public investment: bike infrastructure integration, increased transit options, including rideshare and transit; business creation, education innovation and improvement; the revitalization of the urban core, management of the geographic growth of the city and its direct effect on our resources, and much more.
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There is a great wealth of young leaders who are ripe and ready to lead our city into the future in ways that will address immediate needs without sacrificing longer term goals. This will be an important transition. Today’s leaders must find a place at the table now for tomorrow’s leaders.
My new home on the horizon excites me, but in packing my bags, I am so aware that I am leaving a big piece of my heart in San Antonio. Thank you, one and all, who have made me a better person while we worked and played together to make this a better city. I will miss you, but never forget you.
*Featured/top image: Kelly Beevers at Artpace’s Chalk It Up. Courtesy photo.