The future of Alamo Heights is on the line tonight, as City Council decides whether to overrule its own Planning and Zoning Board, and approve that controversial multi million dollar apartment and mixed use development planned for Broadway and Austin Highway, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Architect Rick Archer of Overland Partners, who is working with developer Alamo Manhattan on the project, says it is a choice between revitalization and continued decay of a key part of the suburb.
"Are we content with the declining commercial core, are we content with the declining tax base from our commercial sector," said Archer, who is also a resident of Alamo Heights. "Or do we envision a more vibrant Broadway."
The proposal has already been cut one story and reduced from more than 200 to 160 apartment units. But residents continue to be concerned about the size of the project, and whether apartments are a suitable addition to Alamo Heights.
Archer points out that it is not a choice between this and a more upscale housing development, but it is a choice between this and more downscale commercial activity in the area.
"Unfortunately, if you look at the recent history of what has happened in Alamo Heights, it is mostly drive through banks," Archer said. "Our most recent tenant is an auto title loan company."
He says members of the San Antonio area's growing young creative class want to live in Alamo Heights, enhancing its outlook and contributing to Alamo Heights' tax base. But he says most of them cannot afford to buy a home in the suburb, and without this development, they will chose to move to upscale apartments in places like The Quarry and Lower Broadway, where they will contribute tax money to San Antonio, allowing Alamo Heights to continue to drift.
The Planning and Zoning Board said in rejecting the proposal following a six hour public hearing last week that they could accept a project that is still smaller, but Archer doesn't see that happening.
"I don't foresee this developer coming back with a smaller project," he said. "We really can't reduce the number of units and the rentable square footage and continue to have underground parking, which drives costs."
He said the only alternative for a smaller project is for the city to allow street parking on Broadway, something officials have already said they are unwilling to do.