Rooftop-to-basement renovation work on the historic Maverick Building in downtown San Antonio paused for a couple hours on Wednesday afternoon, as Centro San Antonio hosted a tour of the office-space-turned-apartment-building slated to open its doors to new residents this fall.
The nine-story building, built in 1922, is on the National Register of Historic Places and until it was purchased in December 2014 by a partnership established by AREA Real Estate and Lake|Flato Architects principals, David Adelman and David Lake respectively, it was poorly-maintained and largely vacant.
At about $2 per square foot, roughly the same price that multi-family projects near the Pearl go for, rents have been kept low by limiting the size of the floor plans. Very limited – the studios will be 300 square feet. Regular one bedrooms will be 600-700 square feet and two-bedroom units around 800.
That puts rent between $600 and $1,600. About half of the units will be $600 studios.
AREA Director of Finance Ashley Riley, who led Centro members up storied staircases and through dusty hallways, said that the kind of urban-minded tenant that these units are geared toward won't mind the square footage. The downtown barista, bartender, hospitality worker, and young professional is willing to make the spacial sacrifice for the amenity reward of living within biking distance of dozens of restaurants, concert/event venues, bars, and parks. Walgreens is less than a block away and H-E-B Flores Market in Southtown is an 18-minute walk and less than seven-minute bike ride.
"They don't really care where they sleep," Riley joked.
She's not wrong. Today, at least five people are on the wait list to live in one of the 86 units – units that come with zero parking.
"We think about half of (the tenants) won't own cars," Riley said. The other half will have to fend for themselves in the monthly parking garage market. This could add $100 or more per month to the living expense, but Riley said they are in talks with garage owners to work something out in the way of reserved parking or discounts.
Each floor has its own washer and dryer closet, so tenants won't have to worry about taking up any of their precious 300 square feet or about lugging laundry to a laundromat.
And then there is the penthouse. Despite the broken windows, thick layers of dust, and nothing that resembles a living space, it's not hard to imagine why the 1,300 square foot penthouse can go for $3,500 per month when stepping out onto to the roof.
It's skyline as far as the eye can see – until you start looking east. Construction continues next door at the new 10-story Hilton Garden Inn, which will loom large over the penthouse's patio and east-facing apartment windows.
Walking through the long hallways on Wednesday, the late afternoon sun poured into the west side windows, filling up those apartments with warm, natural light. Some apartments on the east side were almost completely dark because the hotel, for about 50 feet set back from Houston Street, is less than one foot away from the Maverick's wall.
Apartments that are set further back from the street are graced with much more wiggle room and diffused sunlight.
AREA Construction Manager David Ash said plans for the hotel were in place before the Maverick was purchased and added that, fortunately, most of the tightest units have a north/south window.
"We look at (the hotel) as a compliment to the area," Ash said. "Anything that brings more people and jobs downtown."
Commercial space will wrap around the building along East Houston and North Presa streets. The Local Bar, a favorite dive bar among downtown professionals and service industry workers alike that leases space along North Presa, has remained open during construction and plans on staying. Additional commercial space, perhaps for a restaurant, is also being constructed inside the basement of the Maverick Building.
Owners are taking full advantage of state and federal historic restoration tax breaks for the Maverick Building. The project’s architectural firm Clayton&Little is working hard to restore as much of the original oak wood floor, antique fixtures, and other interior and exterior elements as possible, Ash said.
While walking through the hall way on the ninth floor, Historic and Design Review Commission Chair Michael Guarino admired the condition of the wooden molding that has been kept in relatively good condition.
"I'm surprised they were able to salvage as much as they did," Guarino said.
The project designers have included a mix of vintage and modern styles throughout the building.
Inside the kitchen and bathrooms, Riley said after the tour, "we were going for a utilitarian-industrial juxtaposition with vintage accents."
She shared with me a photo of the type of style they had in mind. (Keep in mind this is not a photo from inside the Maverick Building, nor is this what the kitchens will look like when complete.)
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story credited an Urbanist Design architect as the lead on the Maverick Building project. Jonathan Card now works for Clayton&Little.
*Top image: Half of the rooms in the Maverick Building have no buildings obstructing their view and get plenty of light. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone