Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Developers hoping to build a multi-story, mixed-use tower on lower Broadway Street hit a hurdle Wednesday when the City's Historic and Design Review Commission did not recommend rezoning the lot.
Dallas-based development company Stream Realty wants to add an 11-story office building at 2100 Broadway St., currently the site of a tiny office formerly owned by Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1).
Commissioners overwhelmingly voted against making a recommendation to change the zoning, citing concerns over adding to congestion at the intersection of Broadway and Josephine streets and detracting from the residential character of the area. The City's Zoning Commission is expected to hear the case at a future date.
The lot is currently zoned in the first of six River Improvement Overlay (RIO) districts, which add regulations that aim to protect, preserve, and enhance the San Antonio River and its improvements through design standards, according to the City's Office of Historic Preservation.
The Historic and Design Review Commission, typically tasked with reviewing issues of design and historic preservation, does not make zoning decisions. However, the 11-member body does weigh in on potential changes to the RIO districts through recommendations. Commissioners may also consider variances for proposed developments in the overlay zones that could allow for taller building heights.
The current zoning on the lot limits any development to five stories. The developers, represented by James Griffin with local land use and zoning attorneys Brown & Ortiz, argued that the lot should be included in the second RIO district due to its proximity to downtown.
"We really believe we are more aligned with the downtown core than we are to the neighborhoods," Griffin said. "We believe we are that bookend of downtown, what RIO-2 should be."
According to the Office of Historic Preservation, the RIO-1 district aims to both "maintain the character of existing residential neighborhoods" and "encourage mixed-use redevelopment of the urban character along Broadway and Avenue B," whereas RIO-2 encourages "high-density, mixed-use developments as extensions of the downtown core."
The current boundary between the first and second overlay districts on Broadway is at the intersection with Josephine Street, a few hundred feet away from the site of Stream Realty's proposed project.
Preliminary plans for 2100 Broadway feature space for retail on the ground floor and a parking garage partially covered by a green roof that would provide some elevated outdoor space attached to the building.
Two residents from the River Road neighborhood, located about a mile west of the proposed project site, spoke against a zoning change. Both expressed concern that additional changes would create a precedent that would allow for "a sea of walls" to tower above the street, eclipsing the overlay zones' purpose of protecting the area's characteristics.
"The original RIO-1 protections are being eroded by variances for buildings that not only exceed but double the original height and massing restrictions that are being built within a few feet of the street," said Patricia Pratchett, one of the River Road residents.
The Historic and Design Review Commission has recently granted conceptual approvals to more high-density developments along Broadway, including two office buildings planned for the Pearl that may respectively be six and 10 stories tall and a 20-story building at 1603 Broadway St. that will feature retail, office, and hotel space.