The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) granted conceptual and final approval for several projects Wednesday, including new plans for the former Liberty Bar near the Pearl, an eight-story residential and retail building next to La Villita Historic Arts Village, and an office and event center on the near East Side.

The commission also approved a request that will allow a property owner to demolish dilapidated warehouses and other structures in the South side near the Mission San José.

Former Liberty Bar to settle down

In late 2014, the tilted two-story Boehler’s House – previously home to San Antonio restaurant Liberty Bar – was lifted from its original spot at 328 E. Josephine St. for foundation repair, and it has been waiting to settle in its final location ever since. HDRC rejected the developer’s first relocation plan that year but approved a similar one in 2017. Now, architects have modified that plan (with HDRC’s blessing), which also calls for moving the one-story Rye House at 923 Avenue A, to include an open-air pavilion, screened-in balconies, and raising the Boehler’s House six to seven feet onto a stone base.

The properties are owned by Silver Ventures, which developed the nearby Pearl, and the architectural plans were developed by Don McDonald Architects.

The Boehler’s House, Pavilion & Kitchen, as the project is called in architectural renderings, would reorient the buildings and move them down one block to the corner of Avenue A and East Grayson Street.

In its list of recommendations, Office of Historic Preservation staff suggested that Silver Ventures consider reducing the amount of screening on the balconies “to ensure visibility of original architectural features.”

Housing coming to La Villita

A rendering of future apartment complex St. John’s Square at 410 E. Nueva St. Credit: Courtesy / Mark Odom Studio

HDRC also granted final approval for plans for an eight-story building featuring 252 apartments and ground-level retail at what is now a parking lot one block southwest of La Villita at 410 E. Nueva St.

The one-story brick building on the northeast corner of the property, which currently houses a law office, will remain.

The name for the building, St. John’s Square, is inspired by the neighboring church, which owns the land that is now a parking lot. Weal Development has signed a 99-year lease on the ground the apartments will be built on with St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Staff recommended approval of the project but stipulated that driveways entering the parking garage be built with pedestrian traffic on East Nueva Street in mind. While the parking structure will be wrapped with retail and rental space, staff also stipulated that visible portions of the parking garage should be interspersed with art, vegetation, or other elements.

Mari Michael Glassell of architectural firm Mark Odom Studio said the building would comply with those stipulations.

The San Antonio Conservation Society sent a letter to HDRC asking it to require a “color palette more in keeping with the historic district.” 

In response, Glassell said she will work with the Office of Historic Preservation on choosing lighter colors for the exterior. As proposed, the building has three general tiers of materials and colors: a light masonry base, a grey brick body with yellow accents, and a lighter grey cap.

Event center coming to Dignowity

A rendering of the future event center in the Dignowity Hill Historic District. Credit: Courtesy / Open Studio Architecture

A long-vacant, four-unit apartment building at 707 Dawson St. is slated to become a two-story event center with a rooftop deck to view downtown from the Dignowity Hill Historic District.

“The first floor will be used as a community event space and activity hall,” according to the application package submitted to HDRC by the architect, Haley Serna of Open Studio Architecture. “The second floor will consist of leasable office space.”

The existing brick structure is not designated as historic, according to City documents.

HDRC granted conceptual approval of the new building’s design Wednesday, but property owners Douglas Miller and TST Mann LLC must also seek a zoning change to allow for the commercial use on the now-residentially zoned property. The Zoning Commission recommended approval of the change last month, and City Council will vote on Feb. 20.

James Lifshutz

Several buildings in the Mission Historic District can be demolished after HDRC granted a request by the property owner James Lifshutz to designate them as “non-contributing” to the historic character of the Southside neighborhood.

The addresses are 122 and 142 Woodhull Drive; 3305, 3307, and 3311 Mission Road; and 134 and 156 Huizar Road.

The south building at 134 Huizar Road. Credit: Courtesy / City of San Antonio

Lifshutz – who established Blue Star Arts complex, reopened the Hot Wells, and recently opened The South Side live-work spaces – said he doesn’t yet have a plan for the site.

“I am just wanting to take the buildings down while I develop a plan moving forward,” he said in an email.

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Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@rivardreport.com