Downtown Developer Seeks to Build 20-Story Hotel on Lower Broadway

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Courtesy / GrayStreet Partners

The proposed 20-story mixed-use tower at 1603 Broadway St.

The same developer that is planning a “more approachable” mixed-use development near the Pearl is now proposing a hotel and office tower on Broadway Street more than double the maximum zoning height allowance.

GrayStreet Partners has submitted plans for a 260-foot tower at 1603 Broadway St. featuring 10 levels of hospitality space as well as underground parking and street-level retail to the City’s Historic and Design Review Commission for review and approval on Wednesday.

The building would sit at the corner of Broadway and Newell Avenue, near San Antonio’s Pig Stand in the River Improvement Overlay (RIO) 2 district, where development is strictly regulated.

The RIO-2 district is bounded on the south by 4th Street and Lexington Avenue and on the north by Josephine Street and U.S. Highway 281, and made up of small single-family neighborhoods surrounded by higher-density and commercial structures. Structures in this district cannot exceed 10 stories or 120 feet, according to the Unified Development Code (UDC).

The case file shows that HDRC’s Design Review Committee on March 13 stated, “While the southern tower’s height exceeds that allowed by the UDC, staff finds that given the structure’s distance from the San Antonio River, no harmful shadows will result from its construction. Additionally, there are structures in the immediate vicinity and located at the Pearl that provide the precedent for structures of multiple levels in height. Staff finds that the Broadway corridor is an appropriate corridor for additional height.”

The committee also approved demolition of the two-story, circa-1918 Thomson Electric Company structure currently occupying the site.

Among the City’s recommended changes to the conceptual plans were reducing the impact on pedestrians by improving landscaping and pedestrian walkways, and changing the proposed building cap to feature a more distinctive design.

Last year, the City’s Zoning Commission voted unanimously in favor of proposed zoning changes that would allow for the major mixed-use development GrayStreet is planning on 23 acres of land in Government Hill across from the Pearl.

Those plans call for apartments, condos, single-family homes, restaurants, bars, retail, offices, parking, and green space to occupy a former San Antonio Independent School District property.

At the time, GrayStreet Development Director Peter French described the coming development as “more approachable,” with rent and retail prices below those of the high-end Pearl.

Just north of the proposed GrayStreet hotel site, Pearl developer Silver Ventures is currently constructing two office buildings – one that is a 10-story tower and another with six stories and a 950-space parking garage.

In 2016, GrayStreet acquired the historic Light building at 420 Broadway St. from the Hearst Corporation.

French told the Rivard Report Monday that company officials would be “holding comments until we’ve made more progress with our approvals.”

15 thoughts on “Downtown Developer Seeks to Build 20-Story Hotel on Lower Broadway

  1. “staff finds that given the structure’s distance from the San Antonio River, no harmful shadows will result from its construction.” Even though it was approved the sentiment sounds like nimbyism if I ever saw it.

  2. Mr. Velis, your nimbyism claim is unfounded. In the first place, nothing has “passed”. You are referring to a staff recommendation. For it to be nimbyism, the staff members would have to live in that neighborhood and oppose it, not recommend approval as they have. Also, the River Improvement Overlays are a part of the codified Unified Developed Code and the shadows are a consideration that the commission is bound by law to consider.

    • I am reasonable to understand that the definition for nimbys can’t be held by a committee that reviews proposals adhering to UDC & RIO. However, as a downtown resident the sentiment and recommendations of the HDRC feel very anti-development sometimes. The same anti-development sentiment I have found with nimby’s. This was the connection I was making. Is it a claim? I guess it is. But these are my observations on a recurring theme I am seeing.

      • I’m curious. Can you provide some specific examples of the HDRC being “very anti-development”? I’ve attended many meetings of the commission (as both a concerned citizen and as an applicant), and I cannot recall thoughtful or progressive development being rejected. One look at all of the beige faux stucco hotels downtown tells me that they are far from anti-development. Perhaps one could argue the Joske’s tower decision, but that had serious opposition from many groups and some possible negative repercussions to the World Heritage nomination of the Alamo.

  3. why they would ever approve this hotel but not approve more, much needed housing near the Hays Bridge is beyond me. It seems like the Hay’s St Bridge development followed the guidelines and rules of HDRC but this project does not.

    • I don’t think the HDRC was against the Hays St development directly. From what I read the actual residents on the eastside didn’t want the view of the bridge obstructed.

  4. Of the two images shown, the one on the right (glass and steel) is a lot more attractive than the one on the left which seems rather bland–like all the beige high rises that exist downtown. If it is to be approved, choose the more contemporary design. If San Antonio wants to be considered a modern, progressive city, it has to get away from safe-but-drab architecture.

  5. Who approves these architectural monstrosities? Looks like three shoe boxes stuck together by a kindergartner. Zero imagination.

  6. It would be nice if developers were required to have “truth in advertising” in their graphic renderings of their dream projects.

    Do a Google Streetview of those intersections and compare to the illustrations. Is the developer going to remove all of the low power lines on Broadway and Pearl? Where do the traffic lights go on Planet Architect? Maybe that explains why the light trails from the dynamic zooming cars are going east-west and north-south at the same time – miraculously not colliding.

    And currently one-way Avenue B (leading to 281 northbound) is going to become a two way street? Does that happen before or after 281 North becomes 6-7 lanes wide?

  7. The section of 281 pictured is scheduled to be buried similar to the Big Dig project in Boston. The final engineering and environmental approvals were obtained earlier this year. Construction will begin after Fiesta and last an estimated 3 to 4 years.

      • No, because it’s not true. It would be all over the news if it was even being discussed.

        Besides, if that was ever to be considered (and it won’t be), the more likely place it would be done would be at Hemisfair/Sunset Station/Alamodome. The Pearl has made the overpass work to its benefit and the surrounding area by utilizing covered parking.

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