Developer asks to demolish San Antonio’s closed Cattleman’s Square Tavern for new apartments
David Adelman, known for his downtown apartment projects such as The 68 at Hemisfair and the renovated Maverick Building, plans to build for the first time in the downtown west with a 122-unit apartment building in Cattleman Square, across from VIA Metropolitan Transit’s Station Centro Plaza.
He and his longtime business partner, Barclay Anthony, are asking the city’s Historic Design and Review Board (HDRC) for permission to demolish two historic buildings on land they own at 900 W. Houston St. , which includes the historic Rich Book building, the old location. from Cattleman’s Square Tavern.
In calling for demolition, Adelman and Anthony will face headwinds, with many defenders of the west claiming far too many historic structures have already been demolished in the area. On May 5, the HDRC rejected a request to demolish the historic Whitt Printing Co. building, from which Spanish-language publications were once printed, next to the newer Golden Star Café.
There is, however, a significant difference between the two requests: Adelman prepared a development plan, while the Lim family, who own the Gold Star, did not. Some of the HDRC commissioners said on May 6 that they would have considered voting for demolition if a development plan had been ready.
“I know it’s going to be tough – these are tough conversations – but I think at the end of the day I hope we can move forward with our plan,” Adelman said. “It starts with demolition and ends with an important project in its place, and activation. And I think for the benefit of the city, for the benefit of [the University of Texas at San Antonio] and whatever they do downtown, it is essential that we do it.
Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice, said in an interview that she strongly opposes the demolition demand.
“Don’t buy a historic property if you want to demolish it,” she says. “I can’t stop thinking about the parts of the city. Would Adelman go to King William and say, “I’ll take where the Conservation Society is, where the park is, all these houses?”… He wouldn’t even think about it.
The Rich Book Building was built in 1923 in the Italian-style Victorian style and originally served as a clothing store and department store, according to a 1983 city report on Cattleman Square. The development of Adelman would also require the demolition of the so-called “office building,” a smaller structure at 908 W. Houston St. that was built in 1909, and a Pik Nik convenience store around the corner. West Commerce and Frio streets.
The city has declared both the Rich Book and the “Office Building,” and they can be found in the historic Cattleman Square district.
Adelman and Anthony met with the HDRC’s design review committee in March, but the project has yet to be put on the agenda for a full committee meeting. Adelman said he hopes this will be considered within the next two months.
The development plan shows a five-story building with 122 apartments and 19,185 square feet of retail space on the ground floor around a 269-space parking garage.
The complex would occupy approximately three-quarters of the eastern block bounded by Houston, Frio, Commerce and Medina streets, an area heavily populated by homeless people and transient pedestrian traffic. On Block 100 of North Medina, the old Santa Monica Hotel and the historic three-story building that houses the nonprofit AVANCE San Antonio would remain in place.
“We think it’s a good mix of mixed-use, retail, and multi-family site, and it probably makes sense to make it affordable there,” Adelman said. “We don’t necessarily do affordable projects, but I think there is an opportunity to do it there, and so we want to try to learn and understand the business a little better to understand what went wrong. meaning.”
Adelman said he would be willing to partner with a business or nonprofit specializing in affordable housing to develop the site.
Adelman and Anthony – friends from their days at Nimitz Middle School on the North Side – have teamed up on several projects together, including the Midtown Station mall off Interstate 35 in Tobin Hill. They strive to show CRDH that it is not financially possible for them to keep the two historic buildings in place. The cost of their rehabilitation would be much higher than what they could collect in rent, Adelman said.
They bought the property in 2014, hoping to position it to take advantage of VIA’s investment in the Centro Plaza hub and the rise of downtown development, but the surrounding neighborhood has problems with crime. and roaming, Adelman said.
“We are constantly cleaning, repairing. It’s brutal. There are days when I feel like it’s totally hopeless. It’s a big challenge, ”he said.
They rented apartments on the second floor of the Rich Book building, and unbeknownst to them, some rooms were rented out to drug dealers, he said. Police raided the building and banned it from being occupied for a year.
Since then, the two partners have tried to market the building for the redevelopment, but “the economy is not working,” he said.
“There is no interest in retail. And when I say “zero,” put it in all caps, like: ZERO, “he said. “He sat there long enough – and not for want of trying.”
The planned site of the development is two blocks north of UTSA’s downtown campus, which is expected to expand significantly with the construction of university and athletic buildings, student housing, parking garages and street upgrades to make it easier for pedestrians to walk under Interstate 10 into downtown. Adelman said he believes his development will complement what UTSA does.
“The last thing you want to do is try to lure students into a downtown campus and lead them to empty, empty, and empty buildings,” he said.
VIA plans to rehabilitate the Scobey industrial complex – a short walk north of the Rich Book building on Medina Street – into a mixed-use development of residential, commercial and office space.
Also nearby, Alamo Community Group plans to build Cattleman Square Lofts, a 140-unit mixed-income complex at 811 W. Houston St., in partnership with the city’s affordable housing nonprofit, the San Antonio. Housing Trust Public Facility Corp.
Despite the region’s problems, Adelman said he had good feelings about his future.
“I continue to be optimistic that the central city will continue to grow and prosper. I will say that Covid tends to be a bit of a step back from the urban momentum … And so I have concerns, but it’s too early for anyone to fully cook what they think is going to be. pass, ”he said. “But as my nature is, I am inherently optimistic and optimistic. And so we try.
Richard Webner is a freelance reporter covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former business reporter for San Antonio Express-News. Follow him on @RWebner on Twitter.
This story was originally published by the San Antonio Heron, a non-profit news organization dedicated to informing its readers about changes to the downtown area and surrounding communities.
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