Plans Proceed for SAISD’s New Central Office Near Fox Tech

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San Antonio Independent School District projects that the new central office will be located on the football field at Fox Tech.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

San Antonio Independent School District is planning to locate its new central office on the site of the football field at Fox Tech.

With about two years left at its current location in Southtown, San Antonio Independent School District is starting to move on plans to construct a new consolidated central office adjacent to Fox Tech High School’s campus just north of downtown.

In late February, the district sold property at 620 Matagorda St., 211 Lavaca St., 215 Lavaca St., and 141 Lavaca St., where central office operations are located, to Broadway SA Investors, which is the real estate arm of Silver Ventures, the group that redeveloped the Pearl.

The February sale included a provision that allows SAISD to lease the land from Broadway SA Investors for 28 months for an annual payment of $100. At the end of that period, SAISD plans to move into a new central office facility. On Wednesday, trustees met in an afternoon committee meeting to discuss plans for the new facility, and district officials later held a public forum on the topic with residents.

Plans for the central office are still tentative, but district officials plan for the new office to be located on the football field at Fox Tech, a school that doesn’t participate in varsity football.

This map displays the option of the new central office if located on the football field at Fox Tech.

Courtesy / RVK Architects and Douglas Architects

This map displays the option of the new central office if located on the football field at Fox Tech.

Those attending the evening forum, many of whom were parents of students at Fox Tech High School or Advanced Learning Academy, which is located on the same campus, expressed concern that losing the football field would leave little green space for students.

“The idea of the facility is great, but I don’t want the facility here,” ALA parent Vanessa Jimenez said. Jimenez works in North East ISD, which operates with one consolidated district headquarters.

“North East didn’t put it in the middle of McArthur or Churchill. … A lot of us are super concerned that we are adding a facility and taking away from our students’ education,” Jimenez said.

The architects on the project said that nothing was completely set. Wednesday night’s meeting represented what the district called “foundational concepts” of the project, while future meetings would explore preferences and the preliminary design.

District officials stressed that SAISD must move quickly to build its central office because of the lease timeline at its current location. At its next board meeting on July 23, trustees likely will vote to choose a construction manager.

From there, district officials will work to design the facility, start construction by April 2019, and complete the project by August 2020.

Jimenez said the construction’s timeline and the resulting facility will impact her daughter, who will enter ninth grade at ALA in the fall, and likely graduate in 2022.

“You cannot sell us that this location is the best location for the current students here,” Jimenez said.

Kamal ElHabr, SAISD’s associate superintendent of construction services, told the Rivard Report that while plans for the facility are still tenuous, it is likely the new building will house about 625 SAISD employees.

The purpose of the new building will be to bring together 30 departments and offices that are currently located in six different facilities, including some shuttered schools. Moving the scattered departments into one main building will make the district more efficient and save as much as $1 million in operating and utility costs per year, ElHabr said.

“The idea that our superintendent is not in the same building as our academic team is mind-blowing,” trustee Steve Lecholop said at the Wednesday afternoon meeting.

Kamal ElHabr, SAISD Associate Superintendent of Construction Services, is the second speaker during the presentation.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Kamal ElHabr, SAISD associate superintendent of construction services, speaks to district residents.

ElHabr agreed, saying previous superintendents all felt the district needed one office location to allow departments to work together without traveling.

Money from the sale of district properties in February, and proceeds from the sale of other properties at Alamo and Austin streets and a food service warehouse will fund the construction of the building.

These proceeds will not extend, however, to the construction of a planned 700-car parking garage. This part of the project will come later and will likely be completed through a public-private partnership that will reduce SAISD’s cost of construction, ElHabr said.

In the meantime, trustees discussed the possibility of using surface parking lots and shuttling employees to work until a garage could be constructed.

“I think we need to be really creative in a truly urban environment to figure out how we can make this work, because during construction, it is going to be a nightmare for parkers at this facility,” Lecholop said.

11 thoughts on “Plans Proceed for SAISD’s New Central Office Near Fox Tech

    • How is public transit the panacea?

      I am in favor of the garage. I commute 30+ miles and a park and ride will only increase commute time. I worked for my money to live where I want. So I am not going to move closer either. Public transit comes with its own rules, schedules, and procedures that I find unacceptable, such as conceal carry, working late or odd hours, travel between other buildings during the work day. I am not going to coordinate that with public transit. They don’t determine when I can travel. I do.

      Public transit may work for some people…but push it off on me.

  1. Talk about disrespecting San Antonio’s urban history and future.

    Not sure how there could be an article about the Fox Tech football field that doesn’t mention the city’s Chili Bowl legacy, which dates to 1942. And what kind of creativity or urbanity is SAISD encouraging with the planned construction of a 700 spot parking garage in a downtown long having an excess parking supply? Have the planners missed how the Fox Tech campus now has access to various underutilized parking options via the multi-million dollar San Pedro Creek path?

    If SAISD can’t envision walking, biking, e-scooters and bus to work and school downtown (and good old fashioned urban on-street parking), what can they possibly teach San Antonio youth? At least the students and parents are thinking in objecting to the proposed loss / taking of a historically and presently significant playing field, open space and environmental buffer along San Pedro Creek to make way for cars.

    Wouldn’t students, staff and the city overall benefit from SAISD preserving this long utilized and important green space and by spending on solar power (including electric buses as energy storage) s for the Fox Tech campus instead of on parking at $25-$75k per new garage spot, based on San Antonio averages?

    By all means consolidate administrative offices if it helps to improve student learning and reduce operating costs, but another obscenely expensive, limited use and futureless parking garage is not needed downtown or a good model or input for students. When will SAISD take student, staff and community health seriously?

  2. SAISD should avoid spending money or debt capacity on parking. In the short term it will cause a lot of traffic and in the long term they will still be paying it back for years after parking is obsolete. Parking aside, this site is so large, they could build not only their offices and their parking, but also several hundred or more than a thousand housing units, and have a smaller but higher quality green space.

      • I have to agree with that. Since modes of public transportation don’t allow for large dogs, conceal carry, timeliness, or convenience to those with a slammed schedule, I doubt that parking will ever be obsolete.

  3. Total nightmare for ALA and fox tech parents who committed their kids to this school and now find that the most significant green space on the campus is going to become an office building. Ms. Donaldson you miss the point that even though there is no varsity football, there are other sports at fox tech like soccer that do require a field and the student body which also includes CAST tech is projected to increase to 2000 students which offers the potential for track and field as well as various intramural sports that need a field. Even if other space might be arranged, there is no plan for assuring access to adequate space for athletics or green space during the construction period. I wish this article had conveyed that it was not a few parents and students with concerns–it was a room full of parents that were made to sit through a presentation on the details of this office building when we simply do not want to see it in this field. The presentation also seemed to deliberately mislead the audience–for example,
    repeated references to new green space were made and when we probed on this we learned this was a narrow strip of green space (invisible on the map) planned to run alongside the building–basically a sidewalk with shrubbery. This is not new green space and it felt like we were being lied to. We were also shown plans for a campus redesign with an improved centeal courtyard–that would be plannes for 2030 completion–well after even our youngest children will have long since graduated–and this plan still made no provision for appropriate athletic field space. Further, it feels like there is a hasty push to force this project forward because the current leases expire in 2020–but it also seems totally unrealistic to imagine that construction would really be done on a major modern building to be located on the bank of San Pedro in the middle of downtown in less than 2 years. Just because the contractor can make a PowerPoint timeline doesn’t mean they will actually deliver on it. The district should immediately scrap this concept and identify one of its empty schools for redevelopment. Every single parent I have talked to–most of whom were unable to attend the meeting and/or unaware it was happening–is totally dismayed at this proposal. This is not the way to make SAISD the model of a quality urban school district. If you take away high school athletics you end up making the schools at fox tech campus an option that some parents and kids will still choose, but at best they will be settling, and they will not be what they could or should become for the district or the city. Once the district builds on this green space it is gone forever — so many opportunities for our children gone forever as well.

  4. This is a disaster for every parent that currently sends their kids to ALA or to Fox Tech or to CAST. Disgraceful use of space and resources that will only further diminish the school population on this campus. SAISD is very short-sighted to reduce green space in this urban setting and to reduce the resources of the students at this campus. SHAME!!!

  5. The parking issue ( parking garage) drawing a lot of ire. Fox Tech should have been closed years ago, instead of re purposed. That old baseball field is perfect for a parking garage, utilized by school district employees, then after hours, by citizens to access San Pedro Creek green way. Anyway, FX Tech campus is large, use that space for administration buildings.

  6. if you want to be creative in an urban environment (as stated at the end of hte article) then DO NOT build a 700 car parking garage! San Antonio has 8 parking spaces per capita right now, we need less parking, more housing, more transit. When will we stop building a city for cars and start building a city for people/homes?

  7. If you’d like to send your kids to a high school with a car first design and lots of athletic fields you have many choices.

    Nobody is forced to send a child to any of the schools on the Fox Tech campus. They are all schools of choice. They also provide an urban city college style experience which is unique for San Antonio.

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