Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
A little more than three years after San Antonio Independent School District last asked the City to look into the demolition of the dilapidated 1915 campus building at Beacon Hill Academy, the district plans to file for a demolition permit this week.
SAISD trustees voted unanimously Monday night to direct Superintendent Pedro Martinez to file the permit, which is the just first step in the process. CPS Energy, the Office of Historic Preservation, and a city arborist must approve the request before the building can be demolished – and the building has its defenders.
“It was just important that we demonstrate to the [Beacon Hill] families that we hear them and that we acknowledge them and that we want something to happen,” trustee Christina Martinez (D6) said. “We know nothing can happen until the demolition permit is filed, so the demolition permit is a catalyst for what happens next.”
In a typical request for a non-historic building demolition, SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district would expect to hear back in 30 to 45 days. For the 1915 building, which will go through a historic review process, there is no clear timeline, Price said.
If the demolition permit is granted, SAISD would have to request bids from contractors, take the bids to the board of trustees for a vote, and then finally initiate the process.
“Unfortunately this is a long process, [but filing the permit] is an important step,” Price said.
Beacon Hill parents began organizing in January to take some kind of action on the old building, which is unusable as it currently stands with water damage and cracks in the exterior. At the time, the district estimated the cost to demolish the structure would be close to $300,000 and the cost to renovate would be between $5 million and $6 million.
SAISD has money to put toward a demolition, Martinez said Tuesday afternoon.
Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) has advocated for the building’s renovation, presenting conceptual images and suggesting alternate funding sources to support the cost.
In mid-July, Beacon Hill parents, in partnership with COPS Metro Alliance, decisively called for the building’s demolition and the trustee who represents the school, Martinez, voiced her support.
SAISD most recently explored demolition in 2015. At the time, members of OHP and the subcommittee of designation and demolition visited the structure and told SAISD the building was eligible for historic designation and demolition would not be approved. In May, a limited structural evaluation prepared for OHP concluded “Beacon Hill Elementary School #22 is repairable.”