Cheery Street Modern's interior courtyard. Courtesy photo.

“Will you take a shower or will you make breakfast?” I ask myself this question quite often during the week. I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock too many times, and stumble eyes-closed across the room to disable both of the secondary alarms on my phone, hop back into bed, and pull the covers back over my head for another “five minutes of sleep.”

I betray myself every time. It’s been a lot longer than five minutes. So here we are. Breakfast or shower? Both would be nice, but I’ll be late. Suffice to say, this is not the ideal precursor to a 30-minute drive to work (minimum) in the hostile driving-arena that is Loop 410.

In 2010, I moved to San Antonio from Corpus Christi to join Rackspace‘s team of system administrators. I was fortunate enough to room with a friend I had known since middle school in Medical Drive. I grew to love that apartment and the neighborhood surrounding it. I was overwhelmed by amenities such as a comic/hobby shop that was within walking distance of home and Taqueria Datapoint. With a quick drive, I could take my mountain bike to the Leon Creek Greenway to hit the trails. And the Indian food – oh the Indian food! Between the food and entertainment alone, getting hired with Rackspace felt like a dream made real.

The following four years at Rackspace provided a unique perspective of the hosting market. I was fortunate enough to work and learn with hundreds of customers in an industry that would soon evolve into cloud computing. So much had changed for me since starting at Rackspace, yet one thing remained the same: the daily commute – ever present and rarely pleasant.

When I decided to move out on my own, the search for a new neighborhood was paralyzing. Deciding to buy a house instead of renting an apartment did little to thin the herd of possibilities. From the spoils of my internet research of potential neighborhoods, I found Centro San Antonio’s website and signed up to attend their 2013 Urban Spaces Tour, a walking tour in 30 degree weather featuring several of downtown’s hottest living spaces.

I was hooked.

Spending my morning taking in the sights at Dignowity Park. Photo by Angel Lopez.
I often spend my morning taking in the sights at Dignowity Park. Photo by Angel Lopez.

Through Centro’s newsletter, I eventually found myself attending several Urban Renaissance Luncheon Series events focusing on topics ranging from walkability in neighborhoods to historic building restoration. Realizing how much I’d been ignoring downtown, my potential neighborhood candidates had finally been culled. The new goal was to live as close to downtown as I possibly could.

My search ended at Cherry Street Modern, a new townhome project developed by Terramark Urban Homes consisting of 12 single-family detached homes located on the edge of historic Dignowity Hill. I fell in love with the floor plan almost instantly. The design satisfied a lot of the features I was looking for in a home: an open kitchen, two north/south facing bedrooms, stained concrete floors, and lots of natural light.

My kitchen -- The birthplace of experiments and masterpieces. Photo by Angel Lopez.
My kitchen: The birthplace of experiments and masterpieces. Photo by Angel Lopez.

Cherry Street Modern also presented the perfect compromise for my budget. At the time, homes available for purchase in neighborhoods surrounding downtown were bifurcated into either an expensive, recently-renovated (and sometimes, flipped) home or a relatively cheap fixer-upper. Purchasing a renovated home in the surrounding neighborhoods proved to be out of my price range. I also would not have had the amount of time or resources required to organize and oversee renovations on a fixer-upper.

A healthy amount of crawling through websites including those of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association, SAGE, EastPoint, SAHA, and The Rivard Report dispelled any reservations I had regarding Dignowity Hill’s future. This neighborhood was working to be better — and I wanted to help.

Eight months ago, I purchased one of the twelve townhomes in Cherry Street Modern and never looked back. The first day I moved in, my neighbor came by and offered a lunch pack containing a few bottles of beer, water, ice, and a bottle opener. After living in an apartment complex where neighbors preferred anonymity, this was a surprising gesture that made me feel welcome. The next few months in Dignowity Hill were spent on my bicycle, exploring the neighborhood whenever possible. I gave my mountain bike a break and bought a road bike, trading dirt trails and rocky creeks for narrow sidewalks and sinuous streets.

A nook for my bikes, Bertha and Gale. Photo by Angel Lopez.
A nook for my bikes, Bertha and Gale. Photo by Angel Lopez.

For every abandoned home or commercial building I saw during my rides, there was at least one being renovated. Residents would nod or wave from their porches as I rode by. I was even warned by a gentleman to watch out for trains. This is how I discovered the Houston Street entrance to the Salado Creek Greenway (then under construction) at AT&T Center Parkway. This is also how I found Panchos and Gringos Deli, the Carver Community Cultural Center, Architectural Antiques, and the Friedrich building, which, to this day I cannot stop admiring.

I also tried out a few bike routes to Rackspace to shave one or two days out of my driving during the week. The winter weather brought my expeditions to a halt, but I am ready to get back at it.

Ringing in the new year on the Hays Street Bridge surrounded by strangers, neighbors, and friends really made this neighborhood feel like home.

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I now jump at the opportunity to show friends the latest places I’ve found or read about online. Despite its namesake hills, bicycles are your best friends here in Dignowity Hill. The small block sizes, characteristic of older neighborhoods, can help you stay off busier streets resulting in safer travel within the neighborhood and into downtown. A new B-cycle station has just been installed underneath the Hays Street Bridge. This will make an excellent launch for a ride to the San Antonio Art Museum, The Pearl Brewery, or both. Recent arrivals Alamo Beer Company and Big Hops are perfect for taking your friends (bipedal and quadrupedal) for drinks and conversation.

Ride down Brooklyn Avenue to find the lock and dam entrance to Museum Reach, but not before stopping at The Brooklynite for one of their famous cocktails. See the Jim Cullum Jazz Band at Tucker’s Kozy Corner on Houston and Cherry streets Monday nights (get the Southern Fried Wings). Join the Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club every last Friday of the month for a large group ride with friends. There is no end to the fun you and your bike could be having.

Another chilly night made warm at Tucker’s. Photo by Angel Lopez.
Chilly nights are made warm at Tucker’s. Photo by Angel Lopez.

Other recent additions to the neighborhood Dignowity Meats and The Dignowity Hill Farmers Market continue to add variety to this neighborhood.

Having a range of housing options is ultimately what made my move to this neighborhood possible. As long as housing developers like Terramark are willing to expand on housing types (apartment, home, condo, townhome) available in this neighborhood, I am certain that more people will share my pleasant experience in moving to Dignowity Hill.

Not only did the move to Cherry Modern help foster my love of cycling, but it also condensed my commute time to a 15-minute cruise to Rackspace on a bad day. See you on the hill.

*Featured/top image: Cheery Street Modern’s interior courtyard. Courtesy photo.

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Angel Lopez

Angel was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. A UIW graduate with a BA in Applied Arts and Sciences, Angel moved to San Antonio in 2010 to continue his career in Information Technology with Rackspace...