22 thoughts on “Divide Deepens Between Developers, Community on Project Near Historic Bridge

  1. Wow I really feel bad for the owner, architect, and developer. I hope this passes HDRC and goes forward.

    A community of people in town which is infamously and historically so vocal about needing better and new services provided to them will ironically be the first to try and sabotage new development when the taxes on their hereditary homes rise. You would swear these generational homes were like castles in medieval Scotland the way they are talked about. I see this pattern a lot around town. You know what a lot of those generations owned homes look like today? Crap. Disrepair. Talk about BAD views. I’m constantly hearing: provide more opportunities, better access, more infrastructure…and then when it finally shows up or comes to fruition in this city everyone runs away from the taxes and the invading people acting like they perpetuate some sort of evil neocolonialism in your perfect shire of happy hobbits. Sounds like a theme I’m hearing all over town these days.

    Besides, do you have any idea what a community-input based design would look like? I’ll tell you. Like crap. Way worse than anything they’ve come up with. You would all fight constantly (like right now), it would be a disaster, a huge waste of money, and not one of you would end up happy. Pointing fingers all the way down the line. Kind of like big mechanized bulky government. Nearly impossible to move forward at great cost to everyone. The developer wouldn’t even venture to take the project because of the wasted money and no projected possible profit, and the place would remain as-is or get worse for a long time.

    People treating this like its the Re-Imagine the Alamo project and it’s just not.

    I also feel bad for the owner, architect, and developer because I don’t know much of their work prior to this and to have such a huge project become the local community’s latest green light to take out their frustration is probably heart wrenching to say the least. They aren’t trying to make it worse for you San Antonio, they’re doing everything in their power to make it better, make some money (like all of us) and please you at the same time. I sincerely invite you to try it in their shoes if you think you could do it better.

      • This is a classic San Antonio retort to a well thought out counter argument. The assumption is that Richard M. certainly can’t be FROM SAN ANTONIO if he has these views. So backwards and who the f&$% cares if he is from San Antonio or not??? Does his opinion not matter if he wasn’t born here? In the same vein, do the rights of immigrants not matter bc they weren’t born in America? Yes, we need to respect the views of those who have been here for generations, but many historic neighborhoods that have languished for decades maybe could benefit from the perspective of an “outsider” as they clearly have not been able to move the needle themselves.

      • I am born n raised in San Antonio and I couldn’t agree more with this statement. People say they want less crime, better jobs…and when they come we now have complaints that the city is “gentrifying”. Give me a break, it’s called progress in the year 2017. Lord knows this city lags behind others and needs all the progress it can get!

      • Yeah, I’m so tired of this “recycled racism”. Hatred of the new comer from all people. No illegal immigrants! No new white yuppies! While the former sounds somewhat like a reasonable request truth be told you’re all saying the same crap.

        My ancestors 800 years ago did the same thing when the Vikings showed up and they got mowed down by the invaders. Real raping and pillaging and murdering invaders. Castle burned. Family scattered. If I do a blood test I wouldn’t be surprised to find some Viking mixed in with the Celtic and probably not because of a great Romeo and Juliet romance. Do I get to go to a local design meeting in Loch Lomond in Scotland to talk about the generational ownership of my people to that area? Am I entitled to the future of design in Scotland? My family lived in that castle for around 500 years. Do I get to protest when my tartan is appropriated by the masses and printed casually for profit by Argyleculture? No and I don’t care either because it’s not rational.

        Point being…it doesn’t matter where you start out or end up. Movement, war, clashing, conquering and even purging entire peoples and then rebuilding them is an endless waltz and part of the human condition. Reference Arab slave trade: lasted 13 centuries of Muslims trading black Africans and yet I always hear lately how awful people who look just like me are inherently evil to their fellow man. Not true. We are actually all the same. I’m not worried if it offends you that I suggest that. Everyone is an outsider or a newbie as long as they dare to step outside of their bubbles which I’m guessing you haven’t ventured to do yet.

        Can’t you find a new angle?

    • “I’m constantly hearing: provide more opportunities, better access, more infrastructure…and then when it finally shows up or comes to fruition in this city everyone runs away from the taxes and the invading people acting like they perpetuate some sort of evil neocolonialism in your perfect shire of happy hobbits. Sounds like a theme I’m hearing all over town these days.”

      There is a fine balance between what they call “market value” apartments and the economics of the area. I doubt many folks from the East side can afford $1000/month + or be guaranteed to get a below market value rent from the 10% of units the plan to have. That would be 14 total.

      Not only that, but their taxes go up due to gentrification and they are often forced out of the area. See Broadway/Mahncke Park residents/area. Being in the AEC industry, they don’t mention what it does to area locals because its bad PR.

      Many say, “your land and home is now worth more!!” but the response is often, “I can’t afford the tax increase that comes with this fancy new place and I’ve lived here all my life”

      Transportation is still horrible in SA. Bus routes will either be rerouted(inconvenience) or eliminated and replaced in an alternate location. There are no other options in SA. There is no light rail/subway.

      Also, what kind of tax breaks did the owner get for proposing this new space? 1.2 million + 295,000 (landscaping grant) which is coincidentally the same amount he paid for the land.

      What kind of shops is he proposing? Restaurants? Will these restaurants use public right of way for their seating areas?

      Theres also a pending texas SC case about the city selling the land and neglecting a MOU given to the neighborhood.

      MAybe some people care about the view but it sounds like theres way way way more at play than just an obstructed view.

    • Replying to everyone complaining…settle down! This is simply much needed progress for a blighted area of San Antonio. Great for you if you own property in the neighborhood! You’re about to make some unanticipated profits! And “so what” if you resent the word “blighted” as a description of your neighborhood (and I know you can argue ad infinitum on what “blighted” implies/means)…just look around – it clearly includes washing machines on the front porch, junk cars in the yard, not maintaining anything in the last 25 years. All the noise from people that are homeowners and “displaced” by higher taxes will benefit from new development/re-development thru significantly increased values and therefore sales prices for their homes. Who doesn’t like this? If they’re seniors, don’t want to move, their taxes can be fixed, not escalate per State Law. Fortunately, those same State Laws and property rights laws together disallow restriction of use of one’s property due to someone else’s ideas of what the use should be.

      Finally…someone mentioned Austin… in Austin, values on the East Side doubled or even quadrupled over a few years (see Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center on the subject). Displaced people profited greatly in many cases, but some had to move “way out” to find affordable housing. However, Austin is not San Antonio…San Antonio has abundant affordable housing in the City and nearby.

      Neighborhood activists usually know of the economic facts in these cases. They know of the potential for big profits for themselves and neighbors – they want to do whatever they can to maximize them. I don’t think it’s disingenuous today to suspect that many of the tears in San Antonio over “The Bridge” are likely “crocodile tears” to play to the media, create controversy, raise prices for development purchasers of properties in the area. This will not be all people, but usually will be the most noisy ones. This is not unprecedented…is evidenced in many other similar situations throughout the nation – motivations may be suspect.

      • Making redevelopment harder and more expensive by making it a hassle WILL NOT cause land prices to increase. Instead they have to decrease by at least the additional aggravation plus the risk delays could increase. Development moves somewhere else and that neighborhood misses the cycle and remains blighted until all values increase to make it viable and competitive.

        I think people have a problem with change when they see a force (more money) enter their area and they know they cant compete. Those homeowners cant afford the increased prop tax because they cant even keep up decent maintenance. They will have to move at some point and not necessarily on their schedule. Thats the disruption you see underlying the protests.

        On one hand they have stayed around (or moved in) when other people were leaving, so its too bad they cant benefit in the increased charm of renovated old houses and or denser walkable neoghborhood near downtown. I doubt they will frequent any new restaurant built. If the oncome was there the places would be there already.

  2. east-side better get it together… it’s an opportunity for improving the area. I understand maintain the green space and I”m sure the developer is doing so. East-side lets do it.. lets make the east side pop and lets get some life on the east side. Lets show the shooters and murderers that we will not stand for violence and we will make a difference. Once they build something of substance more will come and not for the worse but only for the better. The east side will be revitalized and begin to see greener grass. I understand change is hard, but change is what the east side needs. David Robinson has contributed so much to the east side and now others want to do the same, let them. Give it a chance. I only gets better with time. I will say, the city must work on the streets and traffic control but once they do that all will be okay. Let’s join forces and grow and cross that Hays Street Bridge together and lets make a difference on the east side!!!!

  3. Don’t let it happen. JUST look what has happen to Austin!
    Overdeveloped the locals can’t afford to live there anymore you’ll be pushed out

    • so san antonio should just let things decay and not build any housing or businesses to frequent? that also creates affordability issues. the city is growing and changing, and we need to decide how we want to grow (not say no to all development). development doesn’t always lead to displacement, in fact studies show it typically truly displaces ~3% of the population, much of the people sell their homes at an inflated value and move elsewhere by choice.

      This development would be on an old industrial property and underutilized space. If this isn’t the perfect place for a mixed-use development then what is? This area is far from being overdeveloped.

      • there is a difference between good and bad development. its obvious that bad development is high priced and doesnt meet any needs of the current community there. good development is affordable housing in the area and business run by folks in the neighborhood. this is a situation where corruption has led to a wild design that mimics the pearl. the community has spoken and they dont want this. thats the bottom line.

        • “Affordable” is relative. There is good new expensive projects being built where people who can afford it can now live in places where that option wasnt available. Lower priced housing also can be good but that is only if you want a mix of income groups.

          I think manhattan nyc is great for the diversity and wide range of people within blocks of each other, but new residents need alot of money. So maybe only great if you moved there 20 years ago and stayed. In this instance the site is vacant, so any increased density is better in that location because with proximity to downtown it will only get denser or languish. Thete is no in between in those locations.

  4. You left out the part where Eugene Simor cried because Phil Hardberger’s honor was besmirched. And pointed directly at a black elderly woman voicing her opposition.

    You also left out the part where maybe the owner of the brewery should of laid of his own supply while dealing with very pressing issues and concerns. He was visibly drunk.

  5. The original idea that the City and the Hays St. Bridge Restoration Group worked on for some time following the restoration, is still the best option. A public park would assure the community, view shed protection looking at, or from the bridge. It is ironic that the proposed complex would be called “The Bridge”, when it will actually hide the bridge and its breathtaking view from the historic landmark. Perhaps the developers plan to paint a mural on the side of the complex, depicting the very view they would hide from the bridge visitors? Public Art cannot restore or replace what is already there and enjoyed by the community .

    • With a park, they will probably just complain about homeless people and infrequent landscaping maintenance. Some people just dont want change.

      • So because they are also city residents, how do you reach a middle ground that creates stability AND improvement? It doesnt have to be either or.

  6. So “big mechanized bulky government” is bad along with people engaging in a discussion about a project that will literally be across the street from their house. No level of engagement seems appropriate other than to be a land owner (though not home owner), his lawyer, and a developer. Perhaps we should simply change the constitution back to when voting rights where for land owners and then apportion a number of votes to the amount of land one has compared to the other (some type of 3/5ths arrangement).

    The deeper issue here is the order in which “progress” comes. This project will succeed in raising the value of the area. However, the increase will make these generational homes more expensive than they may be able to afford. I was a military kid so cannot speak to how important is it to have a house in the family for several years, but I certainly get the sense it is important. People got on boats not completely knowing where they would end up just to get the opportunity to attain such a thing. Diminishing that does not seem helpful to your main point.

    These are not neighborhood kids coming home to do something big for those they grew up knowing. What may actually be playing itself out is a series of families that pulled everything together for their little castle, and yes, they are going to defend it. These types of tensions will continue until a real shift takes place where the cities very large urban poor/lower waged are able to be the agents of change on an economic level (instead just at meetings like this where they seem like a screaming obstinate horde).

    There are not bad or good people in this. Though there seems to be a larger circumstance that keeps them on different sides of the issue.

    • Using the topic of the Hays Bridge as an example. I often think of progress as objective, but when I attend public meetings, it is apparent that progress seems to be subjective. City officials tend to see new businesses and new investments as progress while residents are wary of outsiders with money trying to exploit their resources. Therefore, public meetings shouldn’t have an agenda of voicing opinions based on “yes” or “no” responses. Residents that do not agree on projects, will never come out of these meetings as being heard. And the parties trying to gain approval, will be forced to defend a project that does not have the flexibility to address the residents concerns. Since, the city is a stakeholder in this case, the City should have had more of a role at creating a “sense of place” for this area. The housing that is being developed in the new Pearl and Broadway corridor seem somewhat “temporary” as it will house residents temporarily until moving to more permanent housing. Therefore, progress in my subjective opinion, is made of highlighting the resources of open space where both residents and visitors can enjoy the view of the bridge and not just those residents that are temporarily in-place until something better comes along.

      • Pointing out temporary and permanent residents is a good and particularly useful point. Apartment housing of this type will attract those seeking a cool hot spot (being next to a brewery) to spend some time until other opportunities come along. Some may assume that the jobs they have to afford their space will be ones that bring a value to the city (doctors, tech folk, etc.); however, not always. Why should those who have lived there for years completely loose their view of something more historically important to them to a short term renter (those homes still have to pay property taxes)? So I agree, acknowledging that in the development process would have helped.

  7. Isn’t there something missing from this discussion? True, these apartments alone may not prevent public access to the bridge but aren’t there still plans for a restaurant that will place tables on the bridge? I can’t imagine local joggers would be welcome to weave their way through the diners! Maybe the locals will end up grateful that they can no longer see the bridge once they’re no longer allowed to use it.

  8. Thank you all for weighing in and your thoughtful comments. I am the developer of this project and the land owner. I was in Florida for the meeting and am sorry I couldn’t have been there. I was happily surprised to see that most of the comments above are from people who support this project or “could” support it. Let me help provide some perspective:

    This is private property that I have every legal right to develop within the city’s building and zoning codes. We’ve met those requirements. It’s not public property and it’s naive for anyone to think that nothing is ever going to be built on that sight. Regarding the lawsuit, anyone who would take the time to read it and the motions would see pretty quickly this was never intended to be a park. The city would not have sold the property or allowed tax incentives if they thought for one minute that there was a chance of this being a park.

    This tract of land and even the land the bridge is located on is not in an historic district or in any sort of historic overlay district. There’s nothing historic about any of this. The only reason HDRC is looking at this is because it happens to have a “D” zoning, not because anything is historic.

    The Hays Street Bridge has no view shed protection at all so that issue is moot. Who says that because you live somewhere for a long time that you are entitled to a lifetime view? New York City wouldn’t be there today if that were the case. The Hays Street Bridge has a great story and I too think it’s special, that’s why I’m building there. But keep in mind that we are 65 ft. north of the bridge. The million dollar views are from the bridge not of it and this project is not blocking those views. We have shown time and time again that even a one story building will completely block the view of the bridge.

    We met with the neighborhood months ago and provided a presentation about the project at one of their meetings. I’ve also attended several other meetings and afterward people would come up to me and tell me how happy they were about this development. Nobody personally came up to me and said they oppose it. We also met with the ARC months ago, so all the accusations about not meeting with the neighborhood are false. It makes me quite upset to even hear that we never reached out to the neighborhood.

    The Downtown Development Guidelines are just that…..guidelines. They are not code or law. They can also be very subjective. We are very much in compliance with the spirit of the guidelines and in fact have radically altered the project to try and be more agreeable with the intent. I have torn up many sets of plans and renderings trying to get this project right without going into a money losing situation. Nobody appreciates all the changes we have made over the last eight months. For example, this started out as a five story project but I changed it to four stories because five stories was just too tall. I even tried to make it work at three stories but it didn’t work out financially. Architects aren’t cheap but it was worth the cost to make this project tie in within the fabric of the residential neighborhood to the east and the warehouses to the north and west of the property. I actually do care about how this fits in with the existing feel of the area. Additionally, I’m going to continue owning this project for many many years so I have a huge personal interest in getting it right and doing what’s right.

    I’m not a merchant developer like a lot of apartment developers and I’m from San Antonio. I graduated from Central Catholic High School and then went to Texas A&M. Yet, I’ve been treated like I’m some out of town ogre that could care less about what they’re building. That simply isn’t true and the false accusations against me are just that. I’ve never experienced so much loathing, prejudice, grandstanding, theatrics, conjecture, false claims, false accusations and paranoia in my life.

    I have nothing to do with the restaurant site next to the bridge but my project continually gets tossed in with a future restaurant. That’s not fair.

    I’ve watched the players in all this over the past months and have concluded that there are really only 3% of the neighborhood truly excited about the project and only 3% that are vehemently against it. The other 94% honestly could care less and just want to live in peace. If you investigate further you’ll find that at least the 3% of the neighborhood that is excited about the project actually live in the neighborhood. I think we all need to look at the big picture and get the real facts about this project.

    I hope this helps convey a factual and human side to this project.


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