Courtesy / Studio Schafer & Clifford Wong Architects
The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) unanimously voted Wednesday to approve several significant developments around the edges of downtown, including NRP Group's plans for new apartments on Broadway and near San Pedro Creek.
NRP Group, a leading national developer and builder of multifamily housing, received conceptual approval to build a five-story, mixed-use structure at Broadway Street and East Jones Avenue.
Local developer James Lifshutz owns the 2.5 acres that will accommodate what is tentatively called the 1011 Broadway, across from Maverick Park. It will include more than 280 residential units ranging from 539 square feet to 1,687 square feet, and amenities such as a fitness center, rooftop clubroom, swimming pool, and cafe lounge.
The development will feature a few ground-level retail spaces, with the largest retail space measuring 5,920 square feet, to be set aside for restaurant use. The retail and residential spaces will wrap around a parking deck that residents and visitors could access from Broadway and Avenue B.
City staff recommended approval, but with stipulations based on concerns presented by the HDRC's Design Review Committee. Committee members stressed the importance of façade breaks to reduce the building's overall massing along Broadway.
Staff also recommended a pedestrian island between vehicular entry/exit lanes to shorten the distance pedestrians must travel across vehicle access points.
Commission members on Wednesday agreed the building's side facing Broadway would have the most impact on the immediate area in terms of appearance.
"Anything you can do to soften up that elevation will help," commissioner Daniel Lazarine said. The HDRC approved the conceptual plan with staff's recommended stipulations.
The 1011 Broadway complex will join a number of other residential developments, such as 1221 Broadway Lofts and Rivera Apartments, that have popped up in the River North neighborhood south of the Pearl.
NRP Group design manager Ryan Reed later told reporters: "We'll certainly take [commissioners'] comments and see how we can address them."
Reed and his colleagues said project costs and rent prices are still being worked out, and that the number of units could change before site work begins late this year or early next year.
The Healy-Murphy Center received a certificate of appropriateness to construct a new single-story child development center at 613 Chestnut St. The newer construction would include surface parking, a central courtyard for children, a parent drop-off zone for vehicles, perimeter fencing, and sidewalk improvements.
The idea, center representatives said, is to integrate the educational nonprofit organization's child care and early childhood offerings on land north of Nolan Street, east of Live Oak Street, and west of Chestnut.
Currently, parents and employees at the center drop off their children at a facility south of Nolan, across Live Oak Street from the main building. Executive Director Doug Watson said parents and employees must cross a busy street to get the child care center, and that they are sometimes accosted by homeless people and drug dealers and users.
Construction of the new child development center, a $5.3 million project, would require the demolition of an adjacent abandoned industrial building, which has no historical significance.
The new construction would also require the elimination of a vacant one-story wooden house at 227 Nolan, which is next to the main center building and owned by the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, which is responsible for the Healy-Murphy Center.
The structure was eligible, and in a separate motion Wednesday, the HDRC approved the designation. That move now accommodates a planned relocation of the structure to Lamar Street, where it can be rehabilitated within the Dignowity Hill Historic District.
Neighborhood association member Barbara Garcia said her organization supported both the house designation and Healy-Murphy's plan for a new child development center.
"We know a day care like this will be good for the whole city, but really for the Eastside," she said. "It's needed there. It'll benefit Healy-Murphy and it'll benefit the neighborhood."
The HDRC's Design Review Committee, however, initially had problems with other parts of the proposal. Members worried that the envisioned parking configuration looked inconsistent with the City's Downtown Development Guide.
Watson said the project would actually increase the center's overall classroom space for early childhood development. Interior space of new construction will measure 14,300 square feet. Healy-Murphy currently serves about 100 young children, with another 85 on the waiting list.
"We'll be able to increase infant and toddler slots that are desperately needed in San Antonio," Watson said.
Center officials more recently modified the conceptual plan to have vegetation screen the children's drop-off area from public view.
The latest revisions and the plan to relocate the adjacent vacant house helped to allay commissioners' concerns.
"We worked very hard at finding people to move the house in Dignowity Hill," Watson told reporters.
NRP Group also received on Wednesday conceptual approval of a site plan for a multi-story apartment complex at 419 W. Cevallos St. just south of downtown.
Preliminary plans call for 320 units in four three-story buildings and one four-story building. The shorter structures will line San Pedro Creek and Cevallos, with the tallest building innermost on the property. There will be surface parking.
Staff recommended approval with stipulations, including one that calls for a more detailed landscaping plan, and that the site plan include a pedestrian connection from the apartment complex to the creek's public right-of-way.
The commission approved the plan through consent agenda. These apartments will be located a short distance from Steel House Lofts and South End Lofts, residential developments that have opened along South Flores Street in recent years.
Sal Garcia, NRP's senior design manager, told the Rivard Report that laying out the development is challenging given existing infrastructure on the property.
"We really needed to know that we could the fit this number of buildings before we go any further," Garcia said. As with the 1011 Broadway development, NRP Group is still determining construction costs and potential rent prices for the West Cevallos project.
San Antonio Light building redevelopment
GrayStreet Partners received HDRC's final approval on a certificate of appropriateness for its plans to redevelop the former San Antonio Light press building.
The plans include exterior modifications, construction of a two-level rooftop addition, and a vertical structure connecting the print building with the main newspaper office building.
The commission, which granted preliminary approval with conditions on Aug. 15, gave the final go-ahead Wednesday via consent agenda.
"We're pleased that the connector and print building will be moving forward, complimenting the Light building and activating this long-vacant parcel," Peter French, GrayStreet’s development director, told the Rivard Report. "The development will add modern office space to the Broadway and McCullough corridors. We are seeing strong interest from prospective tenants and are looking forward to bringing this project to market."