Bekah S. McNeel

For those who want to own a little piece of the Lower Broadway boom, Casa Blanca Lofts offers two key amenities: location and aesthetics. Let’s face it, not every downtowner is into boxy minimalist units. Some are not into the industrial look either. Some people are looking for the charm of old San Antonio in the heart of new development.

Casa Blanca Lofts sits on the site of what were once Spanish-style apartments at the corner of Casa Blanca Street and N. Alamo Street. When developer Mitch McManus realized that the apartments were not salvageable for refurbishment, he worked with the Office of Historic Preservation to find a solution that would honor the history of the site, but allow for livable redevelopment. In the end, that meant leveling the site and rebuilding in the style of the original structure.

Casa Blanca Lofts from N. Alamo photo by Robert Strovers
Casa Blanca Lofts from N. Alamo. Photo by Robert Strovers

Like many of the inner city developers who are sensitive to the apprehensions of current residents, McManus did not max out the density allowed by the lot’s zoning. He kept the corridors and patios that give the building charm and distinction, and planned seventeen well-appointed units, one of which is a two-story town home.

The development takes into account the varied realities of their location. The six blocks east of Lower Broadway are not a part of a quaint, planned community. They are rapidly developing inner city blocks that will soon be bustling with artisan shops and eateries. But security and driveways are still a good idea, and Casa Blanca Lofts includes both. It also has a pool that overlooks what will hopefully soon be a steady stream of shoppers and diners. For the moment it’s the Pig Stand parking lot, and more than likely a view of the parade route for Battle of Flowers and the Fiesta Flambeau. Such attributes should make for a quick return on investment.

“It’s all going to flood out,” said Lori Campos, the Realtor for Casa Blanca Lofts, speaking of the Lower Broadway boom.

Her savvy is well-vetted. Campos has worked with developers on other multi-family structures in King William, South Flores, and other recent renaissance districts.

Casa Blanca Lofts' contemporary details and old San Antonio charm. Photo by Robert Strovers
Casa Blanca Lofts’ contemporary details and old San Antonio charm. Photo by Robert Strovers

Walking through the model unit, it’s easy to see the appeal of a for-purchase condo over a rental apartment. In an apartment, the fixtures and finishes must be chosen with high turn-over in mind and a different kind of profit calculation. In the massive developments, designers simply cannot afford custom finishes, if nothing else because of the extra time and effort they represent. But in a seventeen-unit development where each condo is priced to own, the designer can invest time and attention to detail, which is exactly what shows in the Casa Blanca lofts.

Everything from the granite and quartz countertops to ten-foot ceilings and hand-crafted mission style cement tiles shows the commitment to character in the lofts. The spacious porches and patios have natural finish wood ceilings. The light fixtures are unique design elements, not chosen as part of a “lighting package A, B, or C?” process. They are the thoughtful choices of interior/exterior designer D’Ette Cole.

Details at Casa Blanca Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers
Details at Casa Blanca Lofts. Photo by Robert Strovers

Ownership on the Lower Broadway corridor is not going at the firesale prices some expect to find in the inner city, but considering the scarcity of homes that don’t need $50K+ of work, the prices of these units should not shock studied urban real estate watchers.

(pricing information from the Casa Blanca Lofts website)

GARDEN LEVEL

five interior lofts  $269,900-$279,900
two front corner lofts facing North Alamo $329,900
rear corner loft $289,900

SECOND LEVEL

five interior lofts $289,900-$299,900
two front corner lofts facing North Alamo $339,900-349,900
rear corner loft  $299,900
two-story loft (1,404 square feet) $389,900

 

What you get for the money here is not acreage and a three-car garage. It’s easy access to museums and cultural institutions. It’s a short walk to Bakery Lorraine, Tuk Tuk Tap Room, and the Pearl Farmer’s Market. It’s a mix of contemporary design and classic San Antonio atmosphere, the kind you might find in Monte Vista and other sought after neighborhoods.

It’s the kind of home, honestly, that pleases the urban eye, but doesn’t make you wonder how you would explain its appeal to your mom. In fact, your mom (if she’s the hip sort of mom who wants to live downtown and digs density), might just try to buy the unit next to you. It’s a great example of the diversity of good taste that is going to keep San Antonio vibrant as it evolves.

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Bekah is a native San Antonian. She went away to Los Angeles for undergrad before earning her MSc in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics. She made it back home and now works for Ker and Downey and is a frequent contributor to the Rivard Report. You can also find her at her blog, Free Bekah.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.