Amid construction site dust and rubble along the Westside of downtown, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on Wednesday surveyed the progress of the first phase of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project.
The City, County, and San Antonio River Authority are transforming the San Pedro Creek from a concrete-lined drainage ditch into a natural habitat and linear park.
The 2.2-mile improvement area will feature four miles of paseos, six new pedestrian bridges, two miles of channel, and 11 acres of landscaping, among others additions.
"I'm really beginning to see it now," Wolff said as he followed a route that started across from the Alameda Theater and meandered west to Camaron Street. "There will be striking murals on the walls by local artists, tile patterns along the creek, and interpretive signs that will tell the history of the different civilizations that came to settle here in San Antonio. You don't see anything like that on the River Walk."
Bexar County has committed $132.8 million and the City will contribute $19.5 million toward the design and construction of Phase 1 and 2, Wolff said. The four-phase project, which is estimated at $175 million, begins at Interstate 35 near Santa Rosa Street and ends at the confluence of the Alazán and Apache Creeks to the south.
"We feel real confident that we will finish this first phase by May 5," Wolff told the Rivard Report. A dedication ceremony is set for that date as part of the city's Tricentennial celebrations. As for the progress on Phase 2, Wolff said, "Were working on that. This is a very tough project."
Joining Wolff for the site tour Wednesday were River Authority General Manager Suzanne Scott, Sundt/Davila Construction Manager Chad Yount, and River Authority Project Manager Kerry Averyt. Speaking to the project's challenges and longevity, Scott said its various partners are trying to be "thoughtful" in their long-term vision regarding design opportunities. San Antonio-based Muñoz and Company is the lead architectural developer.
"We're going through some modifications of the design based on what's happened at the Alameda," Scott said, alluding to plans to redevelop the historic theater. "What we had designed before may not have been as complimentary now with the new uses of the [Alameda] building. We're trying to collaborate with them on our design and the uses."
Original designs included an amphitheater across from the Alameda, but the County has now decided that a plaza would better serve a variety of uses, Scott explained.
"The County is asking us ... [to] integrate all of the development that's happening [in the area]," she added. "The plaza will have opportunities for entertainment [and] receptions ... The Alameda has a very small lobby, so as this is being developed, we can extend outside and have an outdoor experience for people ... at the Alameda."
There have been several archaeological findings along the route and within the parallel historic walls since construction started, Scott said, such as an old well and an old revolver.
"Archaeologists are involved in the process, which has also helped expand knowledge about the city," she said. "It's part of the story we're telling. It's the coming together of our city's future and our city's past in this project."
By widening and deepening the existing channel, the project will help contain the 100-year floodplain and ensure flood mitigation, Averyt told the Rivard Report during the tour. In addition, low impact development features, aquatic plantings, and bioswales will help maintain water quality and sustainability of habitat.
"I think this project is going to impact a lot of [surrounding] places and we're already seeing the impact," Wolff said, citing other downtown developments such as the new Frost Bank Tower and CAST Tech High School. "I see a lot more shape to it today. This is going to be a revival of the Westside of downtown. "
To find out more about the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project and read about construction updates, click here.