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If the past year in San Antonio was an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” Summer 2014 would cue the narrator to say, “But backstage the band was falling apart.”
The optimistic “City on the Rise” bubble started to burst when former Mayor Julián Castro stepped down from his post to join the Obama Administration. Castro had kicked off the “Decade of Downtown” in 2009 after his election, and when he left for Washington many San Antonians thought progress left with him.
Other news coming out of City Hall did not help this perception. The VIA Streetcar died. Police and City negotiations stalled. City Council voted to roll out some of the most restrictive rideshare regulations in the country, chasing away Uber and Lyft. One might think that The Decade of Downtown was dead. One might think our momentum as a city was gone. But if you look under the hood, you’ll realize all those assumptions are wrong.
Last year our team at the 80/20 Foundation published “San Antonio Under Construction, Project by Project.” The premise of the article was simple: we can show you the San Antonio of the future today.
If you take away one thing from this article, know the rocket that is San Antonio’s urban development has taken off. In short, as Al Aguilar, the CEO of Creative Civilization and the chairman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, aptly said, “It’s our time.”
The “Decade of Downtown” may have started as one man’s vision, but it is now the destiny of our city. While the VIA Streetcar died, Geekdom moved its 800 entrepreneurs into the historic Rand Building. While the police union negotiations came to a grinding halt before restarting, the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio, Opera San Antonio, the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, and the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio found a new home in the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. While rideshare was being voted down, the Alamo Beer Company brewery shined a spotlight on to a burgeoning Eastside.
If you dare to see the city we can be, open the 2015 edition of “Under Construction” (see and download document below). Next year, we hope to see a crane in the sky as the new Frost Tower breaks our skyline for the first time in 25 years. By that time there will be many more projects, and we look forward to showing you every last one of them.
Progress is indeed upon us and we are about to be the better version of ourselves.
It’s our time.
Click to download 2015 Under Construction.
*Featured/top image: San Antonio’s downtown skyline, looking southeast from the top of the Weston Centre. Photo by Kara Gomez.