Courtesy / Silver Ventures
Two new office towers at the Pearl received conceptual approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission. The latest renderings and site plans submitted to the City by Silver Ventures, a private equity firm which owns the mixed-use complex, reveal 10-story and six-story buildings that partially wrap around a 950-space parking garage.
The project, which will occupy the entire block between Broadway Street and Avenue B, will bring a total of about 344,000 sq. ft. of commercial office space to the Pearl's rapidly growing inventory of commercial, residential, retail, and live/work space in San Antonio's urban core.
"We have seen acute interest in more commercial offices in the neighborhood for small, medium, and large businesses," Silver Ventures spokeswoman Elizabeth Fauerso told the Rivard Report. "If you think about the ingredients that make neighborhoods successful, it's to have people living and working there ... it keeps the neighborhood ecosystem healthy."
Several non-historic, vacant commercial buildings including a small warehouse currently leased by Stay Golden Social House will be demolished, freeing up almost an entire block for the Broadway project. The ground floor will host retail tenants, Fauerso said, possibly restaurants, bars, and shops.
Stay Golden owner Jeret Peña said he's exploring different options for the craft cocktail bar and ice house. Renting ground floor space in a new building is one of them.
The new office towers will add to the Pearl's available commercial space in the Lab Building above several retail shops, and offices located in the Full Goods Building off East Grayson Street.
Earlier this month, Silver Ventures received conceptual approval for its 223-unit Brewery South apartment complex at 226 Newell Ave. that would feature two enclosed courtyards. The Can Plant Residences at Pearl, which opened in 2012, have 293 units. The 122-unit Cellar at Pearl next to Hotel Emma and Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery is slated for completion in spring 2017.
The Broadway corridor, essentially the Pearl's front door, is slated to receive more than $40 million from the $850 million 2017 Municipal Bond package that will be presented to voters in May 2017. Proposed Broadway Street improvements – which would reduce vehicle traffic lanes from six to four, build bike lanes, widen sidewalks, and improve pedestrian crossing – survived the citizen committee tasked with adjusting the project's scope and funding. City Council will begin its formal discussion on finalizing the list of bond projects on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
While Broadway has remained a commercial hub, it has pockets of vacancy and blight and pedestrian activity along the busy street has all but vanished. Vehicle traffic dominates the built environment.
"(Broadway) was a real hub of activity and business," Fauerso said. "We want it to be active and alive again."
Also slated for completion in 2017 is the Pearl's Bottling Department Food Hall, Hiatus Spa, and a two-acre public park.
The Pearl complex takes up about nine city blocks. Silver Venture also owns about three acres across the San Antonio River's Museum Reach that will be developed in the next five to seven years, Fauerso said.
Silver Ventures isn't the only major developer taking note of the area's potential. GrayStreet Partners, which has several other projects in development downtown, purchased four acres across Broadway Street from the Pearl.
Before the Pearl, there was little interest in this area of town, or in mixed-use and infill development. Much of the vacant brewery redevelopment project, led by San Antonio native Christopher “Kit” Goldsbury, preceded the downtown investment incentive policies that developers routinely take advantage of today. The Pearl became an example of the kind of activation and economic stimulus high-density, mixed-use development could bring to the urban core.
The City adopted its Center City Housing Incentive Policy and Inner City Reinvestment Infill Policy in 2012 and 2014, respectively. These policies provide fee waivers, tax rebates, and grants to eligible projects in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The boundaries for the housing incentive were redrawn this summer to include fewer areas and refocus investment closer to the Central Business District.
The Midtown or so-called "River North" area has seen a boom in apartment construction over the last five years including 1221 Broadway, The Mosaic, River North, 1800 Broadway, and the Rivera Luxury Apartments. Developers have also begun to capitalize on the for-sale market near the Pearl.
The City has increased its own investment in downtown infrastructure and public service projects through the bond process and tax increment reinvestment zones (TIRZ). For instance, plans were recently revealed for a parking lot and advanced landscaping project under the highway interchanges just south of the Pearl Brewery complex off Broadway that will use about $1 million from the Midtown and Inner City TIRZ.