The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) approved final plans for the construction of the new 24-story, 197-room Canopy by Hilton hotel on the corner of North St. Mary’s and Commerce streets Wednesday.
Plans for the hotel have been in the works for nearly two years and a majority of the site plans received partial approval from the HDRC in February. Wednesday’s approval was to finalize plans for the hotel’s landscaping, street level facade, and interaction with the River Walk.
Although the new proposals were well-received, several commissioners raised concerns about the treatment of an historic cistern located in the basement of the long-abandoned Sullivan Bank building. Elaine Kearney, senior associate at TBG Partners, which will oversee the hotel’s landscaping, assured the commission that previous plans to obscure the cistern with vines had been scrapped. Commissioners approved the continuation of the project with the stipulation that there will be no “growing things” on the cistern.
The Alamo Fish Market Building on Commerce Street also will undergo preservation and renovation efforts.
A number of citizens, including members of the hotel union Unite Here, voiced additional concerns regarding the construction of the new hotel.
Christine Miller, Unite Here organizer, was worried that if construction commences without proper archaeological investigation, there would eventually be nothing left for “tourists and, more importantly, the San Antonio community, to see except more and more hotels.”
The union also showed up to protest the hotel’s application for tax incentives earlier this month.
Patrick Shearer, who is leading development of the project with business partner and local entrepreneur Chris Hill as Crockett Urban Ventures, assured the commission his team would “certainly comply” with state laws concerning archaeological preservation procedures before construction begins.
He also addressed concerns that the hotel’s construction might interfere with VIA Metropolitan Transit bus stops located at the corner of North St. Mary’s and Commerce streets, explaining that the 12 routes may temporarily be split between blocks further north or south on the street.
Hill also owns the neighboring Esquire Tavern among other residential and commercial projects in the urban core.
Construction on the new Hilton is expected to begin at the end of this year and conclude in about 20 months.
Top image: Preliminary renderings of the new the Hilton hotel under development by Crockett Urban Ventures on Commerce Street. Courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.