University of the Incarnate Word will buy the AT&T Building and its 10-acre lot on the corner of Broadway Street and Hildebrand Avenue, university officials announced Thursday.
UIW has agreed in principle to purchase the AT&T Building, which sits across Hildebrand from the university, a university spokesman said. Details of the agreement are not being disclosed, and the sale is pending approval of the UIW board of trustees in June.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that starts a new exciting chapter for this historic university and for San Antonio,” stated UIW President Thomas Evans in a press release. “We are so grateful to be afforded the opportunity to be good stewards of this property. Our plan is to be patient and meticulous about the development of this space and take the time to maximize its potential to best serve the entire community.”
The acquisition will expand the footprint of the UIW Broadway campus by 20 percent. During a recent campus master planning process, the university determined it was “land shy,” Evans said, to the extent of 30 percent less land and 20 percent less parking than other similar institutions. “On both of those fronts, it helps us immediately,” he told the Rivard Report in an interview.
More space for residence halls is needed to house students from outside the area, for example. “We will be undergoing a very thoughtful process and determining what will happen with the property, especially in light of what we know is possible when you look at development spaces like the Quarry and the Pearl,” Evans said. “And to really take the time and do it right and do something transformational on top of something that already is of great impact.”
The distinctive mid-century modern structure, located at 4119 Broadway, has 350,000 square feet of office space and was designed by noted architect Atlee B. Ayers for USAA in 1956.
Dallas-based telecommunications company AT&T put the building on the market in February as part of an effort to better manage its real estate portfolio and make better use of underutilized office space.
A listing price was not disclosed, but tax records show the property is assessed at $17 million, up from $14 million just four years ago.
Doug Endsley, UIW vice president for business and finance, confirmed the university’s interest in February, saying the obvious reason is due to the building’s proximity to campus and the 500-space parking that the property offers. In early April, Evans said the university “was seriously considering it.”
“As a growing university, this is a transformational move for UIW,” stated Charles Lutz, chairman of the UIW board of trustees. “But make no mistake about it, the effort to land this property goes well beyond the walls of this university. We are so very grateful to everyone in the public and private sector throughout San Antonio who reached out and supported our efforts.”
Lutz said the university would need to raise money for the project, but he would not say how much is needed. “We’ve been successful at that in the past, so we’re optimistic,” he said.
Sister Teresa Maya, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, said the acquisition comes during the 150th anniversary of the congregation’s presence in San Antonio. “This is also a great moment for us,” Maya said. “UIW is not the only sponsored ministry here. So I think we will also be exploring many relationships and partnerships with our other ministries through UIW.
“There are lots of possibilities, and it’s in the right part of town, a cultural part of town, so I think all the energy around philanthropy and intellectual life will harness the energy around this space.”
The university did not state when the transition of the property would begin, it did say AT&T will continue to occupy the building and utilize the property for the time being. AT&T owns a 476,000-square-foot office building downtown and leases space at its former 1010 N. St. Mary’s Street location.