Under Construction: Downtown Workforce Housing at Maverick Building

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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.

A 300 square foot studio in the Maverick Building. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

An unfinished 300 square foot studio in the Maverick Building. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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.

From the rooftop of the Savory Building you can see all of downtown giving you a birds eye on the city. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

From the rooftop of the Maverick Building you can see almost all of downtown, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the city. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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.

The Maverick Building (left) and the Hilton Garden Inn, both under construction, are very close neighbors. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

The Maverick Building (left) and the Hilton Garden Inn, both under construction, are very close neighbors. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

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.

The Local Bar holds a lease on the bottom floor of the Maverick Building.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

The Local Bar holds a lease on the bottom floor of the Maverick Building. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

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.)

A style sample of the fixtures and cabinetry for the Maverick Building. Photo courtesy of Ashley Riley.

A style sample of the fixtures and cabinetry for the Maverick Building. Photo courtesy of Ashley Riley.






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

Related Stories:

Maverick Building, Storied But Shabby, in New Hands

New ‘For Sale’ Market Growing Around Pearl

Empty Lot Near Main Plaza, River Walk to Become Hotel

The Houston Street Mistake: An Off-key Melody

29 thoughts on “Under Construction: Downtown Workforce Housing at Maverick Building

    • Hey Brian,

      Thankfully, they do not own this building any longer. It is now owned by the great AREA Real Estate group who also owns 1221 Broadway. This building is now going to be given the love and care it deserves!

  1. Because everyone wants to live in 300 square feet. 16 foot by 16 foot room… No amenities in the world would make that worth it. I think a jail cell is 12×12…bodes it have community showers? I can’t image where you would put a bathroom and kitchen in 300 square feet.

    • Christopher,

      No, they do not have community showers. Each studio comes with its very own private bathroom. I lived in one of these 300 square feet studios at the Maverick when I was 18. Yes, its small but certainly not as small as you would imagine. If they do it right, it could work for those millennials just wanting a spot downtown next to work.

  2. Peter, my daughter in Boston lives in a “micro unit” in Back Bay . . . a little over 300 sf . . . for $1,500 per month. She walks to school and to work. No car needed . . Net cost (from car savings) is about $900 per month. Small? Yes. Her trade off would be to live 20 to 30 minute away and be on transit every day for 45 min to an hour. For her, this was the right decision. Just toured a 240 sf unit. Small, but livable. You can’t have stuff and make it work. It serves a slice of the market very dependent on location . . . .

  3. So if I was interested in living downtown, would the requirements in getting an apartment here have to be that I have to work and go to school downtown?

    • Paul,

      My understanding is that there is no such requirement for leasing an apartment here. They are just gearing towards the downtown workers because of the “affordable” price tag for the location.

  4. I was shocked when I saw that the hotel had been allowed to build right next to the Maverick Building. I noticed it a few months ago. Who approved that? The owner of the Maverick should be allowed to collect damages from both the hotel architect and from the city.

    • CJW,

      Unfortunately, this was approved before the current owner of the Maverick made the building purchase. Because of this, there is likely nothing that can be done by AREA RE. It is a bit unfortunate though, I agree.

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