Gallery: Urban Spaces Tour 2012

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Cindi and Ken Hack's home at South End Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cindi and Ken Hack's home at South End Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Several groups of about 20 people roamed the streets of Southtown last night with lighted, flowery leis. Some had more than their fair share of drinking, laughing and chatting – but they weren't college kids on a pub-crawl, most were members and friends of the Downtown Alliance, participating in the 9th Annual Urban Spaces Tour. Approximately 180 "Very Urban People" – according to their name tags – from all over San Antonio took a tour of homes and businesses in an area that has been called the "Lone Star Arts District," just south of South Alamo Street on Probandt, Cevallos and South Flores Street.

Each year the tour highlights a different geographical area, last year's tour was centered on River North – in and around the San Antonio Museum of Art.

The tour showcased spaces that also fell into the Alliance's Live, Work, Eat, and Play motto, starting with "play" at SAY Sí, the non-profit arts program. From here, guests of the tour were served h'ordeuvres, beer and wine and given a tour of the facilities which provide middle and high school students with a place to develop artistic and social skills.

"The tour is trying to bring people who are curious about what's going on downtown right into the heart of it," said Downtown Alliance board members Debra Maltz. "It takes a certain personality to want live a more compact lifestyle ... this is their chance to see what it's like."

The tour route led guests through about three city blocks and lasted just under three hours.

"It's good to see a variety of different things that make a neighborhood a community, " Maltz said.

Tour guests mingle during the opening reception at SAY Si

Tour guests mingle during the opening reception at SAY Si. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

From Say Si, the tour continued on to Cevallos Modern Contemporary Homes, a small complex of low-maintenance, single-family detached homes that is a prime example of residential infill development.

Cevallos Modern Contemporary Homes, 262 Cevallos St.

Cevallos Modern Contemporary Homes, 262 Cevallos St. Photo by Iris Dimmick

The offices of Alamo Architects and courtyard-connected OCO Architects are, naturally, some of the most beautifully designed re-purposed warehouse work spaces in San Antonio. Sustainable architecture and design features such as xeriscaped courtyards, recycled materials and natural lighting were on display.

OCO Architects office space. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

OCO Architects office space. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Alamo Architects entryway.

Tour guests check out Alamo Architects' entryway. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cleary Zimmermann Engineers, a consulting engineer firm for electric, mechanical, and plumbing systems, office in what was once a branch office and warehouse for a truck and farming equipment company. Like that of Alamo and OCO Architects, its office space is wide-open and pays homage to its past with exposed structural material.

Cleary Zimmermann warehouse. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cleary Zimmermann warehouse. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

What was once the Peden Iron and Steel Company on South Flores Street, is now home to one of the newest loft complexes in the SoFlo industrial area, the Steel House Lofts.

Holiday lights on the Steel House Lofts.

Holiday lights on the Steel House Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

At the South End Lofts, Ken Hack led the tour through his home. Hack and his wife, Cindi, moved downtown from Medina Lake where, he said, "We used to just feed deer." Now, they are immersed in downtown culture and even started hosting a weekly public get-together with friends and community members downtown, Thirsty Thursdays.

"We went from almost getting divorced to being teenagers again," Hack said of the transition to downtown life, "The social dynamics have changed, we spend more time together now."

Cindi and Ken Hack's home at South End Lofts. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cindi and Ken Hack's home at South End Lofts, 1331 S. Flores St. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cevallos Lofts is officially opening its own mini-grocery store on the ground floor today, adding yet another amenity to the loft complex which already boasts a pool, gym, laundry facility, and lounges.

Cevallos courtyard and pool. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Cevallos Loft courtyard and pool, 301 E. Cevallos St. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

The tour ended with a reception at Casa Hernan, Chef Johnny Hernandez' home, office, and event venue. The art and architecture  selected by Hernandez highlights Mexican culture.

Chef Johnny Hernandez' Casa Hernan. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Chef Johnny Hernandez' Casa Hernan. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Iris Dimmick is managing editor of the Rivard Report. Follow her on Twitter @viviris or contact her at iris@rivardreport.com.

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