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-   -   SAN ANTONIO │ Official Hemisfair Redevelopment Thread (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=154086)

sakyle04 Jul 9, 2008 3:46 PM

SAN ANTONIO │ Official Hemisfair Redevelopment Thread
 
The SA Current had a lengthy article today highlighting some of the issues involved in revitalizing HemisFair Park. Any thoughts?

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z...48d5abc3f8.jpg
photo on flickr - bill evans

I really sliced up the article by Clint Hale, which can be read here: http://sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=69025

Some highlights:

...HemisFair Park is what it is — a one-shot tourist magnet that, with the exception of the playground, isn’t really much of a park at all. So it comes as little surprise that some area architects and developers are pushing for a radical makeover for HemisFair’s 140-plus acres that they claim will help revitalize the downtown area.

“With gas prices like they are, there is great interest in coming back to the inner city, where there’s an established infrastructure,” says Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. “It’s live, work, and entertainment, and we’re looking for a 24-hour destination in San Antonio.”

Downtown entertainment (see: River Walk, Sunset Station, Blue Star) and — to a lesser extent — work (local businesses and corporate offices aplenty) are not at the core of the proposals submitted to the city to date. Rather, the push is on to bring housing to HemisFair Park, maybe knocking down a couple of landmarks along the way. Those include, potentially, the federal courthouse, the contents of which — thanks to a recent land-swap agreement — will eventually move to the SAPD’s current downtown locale.

According to Seahn Lobb, president of the Lavaca Neighborhood Association, a number of proposals for HemisFair’s transformation have been submitted to the city, including a much-discussed but still private design from local starchitects Overland Partners.

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger was unable to speak with the Current regarding the fate of HemisFair due to some unidentified out-of-town commitment. He told the Express-News in April that he understands the city’s adoration of its historic buildings, but he acknowledged that progress sometimes leaves a few casualties in its wake.

“While I am a big believer in historic places and I believe that roads are sometimes the enemy, it’s just not working, and we really need to take a fresh, innovative look and let that land be used,” Hardberger told the E-N.

“We feel that it’s very important that we retain the park as a significant open space in the middle of downtown, and it’s very important that we strive for absolutely as much park space as possible,” said Ben Brewer III, president of Downtown Alliance San Antonio. “HemisFair certainly provides that kind of opportunity, and there are ways that might involve tearing down buildings or moving them around to free up more open space.

“There are [some proposals] on the table, and we have begun the process of gaining input,” DiGiovanni says, “but we have to move on to the implementation stage.”

And sooner rather than later say the interested parties: The man helping spur HemisFair’s redevelopment — Mayor Phil Hardberger — is slated to leave office in less than a year.

“I don’t know about a specific timetable, but I do know that this is something that needs to get started before Mayor Hardberger gets out of office,” Lobb said. “It’s like a ticking time bomb, and time is running out. And even if [Hardberger] starts it, that’s not to say the next mayor will continue it. So it needs to get as far ahead as possible if we want to do something.”

alexjon Jul 9, 2008 6:45 PM

It should have housing and more emphasis on greenspace. The concrete/stone paths are awful and there's not much to do there.

JACKinBeantown Jul 9, 2008 8:44 PM

I don't think it should have housing. But it should definitely have plenty of green park space. Parks make cities great.

oldmanshirt Jul 9, 2008 8:53 PM

What's been going on with Victoria Commons lately?

I hope they save the current Courthouse, that building has always been one of my favorite "modern" buildings in downtown.

alexjon Jul 9, 2008 8:59 PM

I, ahem, uh... heh. *sweats a little*

... I... I hate the courthouse. I think it's ugly.

*run*

sakyle04 Jul 9, 2008 9:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oldmanshirt (Post 3662979)
What's been going on with Victoria Commons lately?

I hope they save the current Courthouse, that building has always been one of my favorite "modern" buildings in downtown.

VC - still building more units.

and of the courthouse...i gotta agree with alexjon - :yuck:

i would ride the wrecking ball (a la dr strangelove) myself to see a couple of 25 story residences on a re-designed park.

texboy Jul 9, 2008 9:20 PM

This HANDS DOWN needs a sizable residential component...its time SA get on the ball with dowtown living options.

jaga185 Jul 9, 2008 9:30 PM

I hate that courthouse as well, it's digustingly round. I really like Hardberger, I was skeptical at first, but he has turned into one really good mayor. I can't wait until the plans for the park turn up.

oldmanshirt Jul 9, 2008 9:37 PM

lol, I knew I would be in the minority about the courthouse. Hopefully if they get rid of it they'll make good use of the space.

Paul in S.A TX Jul 10, 2008 5:17 AM

How about something like 16th street mall in Denver? But with Lots of live music, with S.A. flair, and, of course a emphasis on housing. A place so alive it would rival the Riverwalk, a bit.

http://www.downtowndenver.com/BID/BID16thStreetMall.htm

Paul in S.A TX Jul 10, 2008 5:19 AM

Oh and a open air market.

Paul in S.A TX Jul 10, 2008 6:35 AM

The Federal building, U.S. Courthouse, and possibly Texan Cultures need to go. So much can be done with this prime location. Maybe they can turn the courthouse into some kinda cultural venue and save it.


SA Current
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2302/...556412.jpg?v=0


Jeff @ Picasa
http://lh5.ggpht.com/_qIz_k3cvd_Y/R_...M/100_1981.JPG

issiah houston @ photobucket
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i2...2-10-07004.jpg

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i2...2-10-07005.jpg

miaht82 Jul 10, 2008 3:07 PM

I think a mixed use of living/shopping would be ideal and probably the best idea for an area like this; think Hemisfair Row. When I think of the potential of this area, I think of when I lived on Pentagon Row in Pentagon City, VA. Shops, Mall(which we already have there within walking distance), Groceries (which this area desperately needs since Handy-Andy is no longer there), above retail rentals (like Quarry Village) and a few high-rise residences (about the same size as Vidorra); sort of a gateway to the single family residential area. There was also a large field which was always being used for soccer or rugby, and park area with bike paths and jogging trails . Of course that area had a Metro line so it was convenient to live there, not to mention I worked less than half a mile away.

sirkingwilliam Jul 11, 2008 5:07 AM

Federal Courthouse is leaving and building a new courthouse on the current SAPD HQ (SAPD is going to build a new co-HQ shared with the SAFD) and the Institute of Texan Cultures is said to want to build a new facility.

Everything seems to be lining up for something cool to be built. But it's imperative that those buildings get knocked down.

Paul in S.A TX Jul 11, 2008 10:28 AM

I say keep the old houses maybe some bed and B's. surrounded by dense development.

alexjon Jul 11, 2008 3:17 PM

This begs the question: What's the new Federal Courthouse going to be like? They are at a severe deficit space-wise and generally compel building something to last 50+ years through growth. Their design standards are generally canon and overrule local design standards. I like the ones in Seattle and Portland. The Portland one more, of course, but the Seattle one looks like it has a giant cat face when lit up at night!

Anyway, back to the topic... I think we keep the old houses, centralize the plaza theme, add more grass, integrate the future River North streetcar to prevent the need for more roads and build mixed-use.

sakyle04 Jul 15, 2008 5:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alexjon (Post 3667034)
This begs the question: What's the new Federal Courthouse going to be like? They are at a severe deficit space-wise and generally compel building something to last 50+ years through growth. Their design standards are generally canon and overrule local design standards. I like the ones in Seattle and Portland. The Portland one more, of course, but the Seattle one looks like it has a giant cat face when lit up at night!

Anyway, back to the topic... I think we keep the old houses, centralize the plaza theme, add more grass, integrate the future River North streetcar to prevent the need for more roads and build mixed-use.

The new courthouse should be a real treat. High ceilings, small footprint, and 50+ years of functionality....that should make it a pretty tall building. Maybe we could have a giant chupacabra face on it at night...

As for HemisFair, i would hope for much more green space. And I don't need dedicated soccer fields and softball diamonds. Maybe one basketball court, but the grass should just be grass...Allow the vast space to be used however residents want to. At Woodlawn Lake Park on a Sunday afternoon, there are any number of impromptu soccer games, pickup bball games, picnics, frisbee throwing, kite flying, and leisurely dog walks going on. And the 1.3 mile trail around the park is packed with joggers and walkers.

Something like that would work in Hemisfair. A dedicated place for the jogger and lots of open space. You can always add dedicated fields later as the populace demands, but you can't take them away as easily if they are underutilized.

The art scattered around the grounds is nice so perhaps we could sort of place it along a path on the periphery, creating an art walk of some sort, with space for future additions.

KeepSanAntonioLame Jul 15, 2008 5:59 PM

I don't think they really need to develop hemisfair with tons of residential (though a few wouldn't hurt). The city just needs to make it more like a park instead of a semi-developed public space with some sidewalks.

kornbread Jul 16, 2008 8:18 PM

There's always a reason for these types of discussions to begin. So I'm sure someone already has plans for the site. Too bad this didn't coincide with the Spurs needing a new arena (but that's another story).

Anyway, the answer to to this site seems obvious to me. Incorporate the area into the convention center. They are going to want to expand at some point; expanding south seems to make better sense than using old SAWS site. There's a lot to work with to be able to attract all sizes of conventions. Wouldn't it be cool to have a courtyard/park in the middle of your convention center? Or on top?

I think the old SAWS site would be perfect for some type of transit center. A giant parking garage with drop-off and pick-up areas for buses, trolleys, taxis, bike taxis and rickshaws (if they dare). It's right next to the main east-west downtown streets and with easy access to IH 35/37/10 and near the rail line next to Sunset Station. And give those downtown workers deep monthly discounts on parking.:tup:

sakyle04 Aug 4, 2008 9:28 PM

the mayor addressed the issue recently and i'll look for the link.

he said that one of the major things he wants to accompish in his final year in office is the revitalization of hemisfair. he stated that there has been too much development to see it as a central "green space" and that residential options should be the focal point. he also mentioned that they are in possession of a couple proposals for the site, not indicating if one was favored or even serious...

so we'll see. but maybe this gets pushed through before this time next year.

the article is here: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantoni...04/story2.html

and in it hardberger says, "there are two ways to go. one is the central park idea. but the other is a sophisticated upscale development...I'd like to get the redevelopment of hemisfair off the ground. i'd like to direct that."

sirkingwilliam Aug 5, 2008 5:17 AM

Going upscale with Hemisfair would really compliment Rivercenter Mall's current transition into an upscale entertainment venue.

MichaelB Aug 5, 2008 5:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sakyle04 (Post 3662281)

“With gas prices like they are, there is great interest in coming back to the inner city, where there’s an established infrastructure,” says Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. “It’s live, work, and entertainment, and we’re looking for a 24-hour destination in San Antonio.”

I am sorry, but I truly hate the mentality that yields statements like this. It is such a "late to the table" mentality. "With gas prices like they are"? Because it took that to get you to look at this, really? Like this isn't a well established idea that we have needed to do this? really? And is he/she just realized the ice cap is melting? Yikes! Better late than never I guess>!!!!

This is and has been a great idea. Maybe SA can use the gas price crap for leverage. OK.... but just get it done ya'll! That area has such great character to be taken advantage of there is such a great mix of (near) mid century architecture, 19thc building and totally underutilized areas! Would make a great place to live! If SA pulls this off, and I think it can happen, it would be one of the most unique/coolest places to live in any top 10 city.

sirkingwilliam Aug 5, 2008 5:47 AM

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantoni...2400%5E1677293

Quote:

Atop that list is a remake of the site of the 1968 world’s fair. HemisFair ’68 is where Hardberger says he and his wife, Linda, who were living in Odessa, Texas, at the time, first fell in love with and decided to move to San Antonio.

For years, local leaders have debated what to do with what remains of that site. There are at least two options that have been discussed and debated. One would preserve the site as a permanent downtown park.

The other would transform it into a mixed-used development that would include a residential element. Ironically, Hardberger, who is a champion of more parks and green spaces, says the latter now makes more sense.

“There are two ways to go. One is the Central Park idea. But the other is a sophisticated upscale development,” Hardberger says. “It’s a little late on the park. There is too much building that has already occurred.”

Hardberger hopes to gather enough consensus among city staff and members of City Council later this month to move on the latter concept.

“That place has just been sitting there. If we can get the dialogue going, we can get the ball rolling,” Hardberger says. “I’d like to get the redevelopment of HemisFair off the ground. I want to direct that effort.”

alexjon Aug 5, 2008 5:33 PM

Why can't we have a large downtown park?!

ARGH!

oldmanshirt Aug 5, 2008 6:14 PM

^^^I agree. There's still plenty of room south and southwest of the park to develop residential space. More good park space is a need for the urban core and a better use of that area.

sakyle04 Aug 6, 2008 4:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oldmanshirt (Post 3715774)
^^^I agree. There's still plenty of room south and southwest of the park to develop residential space. More good park space is a need for the urban core and a better use of that area.

i am sure that the skilled folks who have put forht plans for the area have saved as much green space as possible as well as given the residential developments the best possible spots within that scope.

whether this idea ever gets built out depends on whether the demand is there - and having a condo with a large urban park (and the TOA) in your backyard is probably a nice selling point.

this would be THE ideal DT location in my opinion. close enough to a convenient walk to first friday events and king william restaurants as well as close enough to walk to the majestic for a show or mortons or the palm for a steak. :) sign me up.

jaga185 Aug 7, 2008 3:13 AM

I'm with sakyle on this one. Who wouldn't want TOA on your balcony, the Convention center even, or GH glaring you down. I say this is an amazing opportunity, and we need to seize it.

KeepSanAntonioLame Aug 7, 2008 3:31 AM

Why can't hemisfair PARK stay a park? I would approve of some development around the periphery, but we still need some green space.

jaga185 Aug 7, 2008 10:16 PM

Well of course the inards would stay a park. I imagine the border of the park to be full of apartment buildings and townhomes. Nothing too tall of course, four stories at the most.

ydoc14 Aug 7, 2008 10:45 PM

I think some 300-400' buildings bordering Durango would be nice. Would be a major skyline impact coming into DT north on I-37.

oldmanshirt Aug 7, 2008 11:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ydoc14 (Post 3720993)
I think some 300-400' buildings bordering Durango would be nice. Would be a major skyline impact coming into DT north on I-37.

I'd say ToA, along with the Alamodome and GH already make enough of a statement. What would really sell it the area from that viewpoint would be like what jaga is suggesting, a dense collection of 4-5 story buildings, with maybe a couple of 8-10 storys to break things up.

Texan101 Aug 7, 2008 11:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by oldmanshirt (Post 3721080)
I'd say ToA, along with the Alamodome and GH already make enough of a statement. What would really sell it the area from that viewpoint would be like what jaga is suggesting, a dense collection of 4-5 story buildings, with maybe a couple of 8-10 storys to break things up.

Agree with you on that one. No need for anything too tall over there. If anything id say the Sunset station area as well as the river north project area would be better for highrise

sakyle04 Aug 7, 2008 11:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Texan101 (Post 3721088)
Agree with you on that one. No need for anything too tall over there. If anything id say the Sunset station area as well as the river north project area would be better for highrise

i know what you guys are saying.... we all like modesty and a good neighborhood feel.

that said, if someone offers to build a 20-30 story building there on durango, i will be ecstatic!!!

build up, anywhere you can.

ydoc14 Aug 8, 2008 12:40 AM

Was playing around on Google Earth and thought I'd draw up my mock plan for HemisFair.

Green boundary: green space, park interior, secluded from Durango
Yellow boundary: apartments and townhomes, height limited to 100'
Red boundary: one 350' condo tower

http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/5...misfairfz9.jpg

sirkingwilliam Aug 8, 2008 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ydoc14 (Post 3721242)
Was playing around on Google Earth and thought I'd draw up my mock plan for HemisFair.

Green boundary: green space, park interior, secluded from Durango
Yellow boundary: apartments and townhomes, height limited to 100'
Red boundary: one 350' condo tower

http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/5...misfairfz9.jpg

Don't forget to include the Texan Culture building as rumor has it they want a new building.

Also, I wonder if maybe the area across from Durango Blvd (fed parking lots, etc) west of the Victoria Commons development could be part of the redevelopment as well.

oldmanshirt Aug 8, 2008 2:56 AM

Yeah, those parking lots are ripe for development.

ydoc, a 350' tower in that location would not only provide some height in that area, but also help plug a major hole in the skyline from the north and south.

sirkingwilliam Aug 8, 2008 8:06 AM

Radical idea, maybe...

But what about extending the Riverwalk all the way to the Texan Culture site and into a downtown lake?

http://img329.imageshack.us/img329/5249/hemplantm8.png

Green = Park

Blue = Water

Red = Mixed-Use

oldmanshirt Aug 8, 2008 1:52 PM

^^^That's a cool idea, though probably cost-prohibitive. Also, I'm sure the new owners of Rivercenter would fight it because they'd want to keep as many customers as possible in their little cul-de-sac. I know what you're proposing probably wouldn't have retail, but a developer could see it as a "distraction" from their product, particularly since the existing lagoon does such a good job of channelling people towards the mall.

Is there a current plan for convention center expansion? I though the last I heard they want to expand northeast/east, maybe over Market St. I've been racking my brains though trying to think of a way they could expand south and incorporate the park with the convention center, perhaps even putting the park on top of the roof.

KeepSanAntonioLame Aug 8, 2008 1:56 PM

Where would the federal building move to?

alexjon Aug 8, 2008 3:37 PM

Old Police HQ

Plans for the Federal Building should be out within the next 3-6 months

STLtoSA Aug 8, 2008 7:06 PM

New police Head Quarters is proposed on old city K-Mart site and then New Federal Building on the site of the current Police Headquarters.

Don't forget about the Covention Center Expansion, that should be completed by 2015.

oldmanshirt Aug 8, 2008 7:15 PM

^^^STLtoSA, do you know which direction the conv cent expansion will go?

KeepSanAntonioLame Aug 8, 2008 7:31 PM

Oh I thought that was just the court house. Nvm then.

Chicago3rd Aug 8, 2008 8:02 PM

100% Against anymore money going into the area around Hemisphere until there is a 50 year plan. Too much building and rebuilding.

Take any money they want to spend there and put it into the area bounded by Durango (S) I-35 (W) Dolorosa (N) and the River (E). This area is mostly parking lots and a huge huge eyesore. Extend the river walk west redevelop this area including a new ball park.

SA has been putting money into the Hemesphire area since the 1960's and it is time to just allow the Convention Center to do thing it needs to do to make a living and let downtown SA develop other areas. Could you imagine the SW corner of downtown if the city started putting the money it has put into the Hemisphere area all these decades?

alexjon Aug 8, 2008 8:59 PM

Hemisfair ;)

miaht82 Aug 8, 2008 9:15 PM

Can we get rid of all those probation offices on Dolorosa?
I hate walking down that street with everybody waiting to see their PO's. Perhaps that is where the SAPD headquarters should go, a couple of blocks over from where it is now or in that empty lot in front of the detention center to hide it; then build the Federal building where the old HQ's is at; that way the old Kmart lot could be used for something useful in the downtown area like a grocery store?

sirkingwilliam Aug 9, 2008 12:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by STLtoSA (Post 3722919)
New police Head Quarters is proposed on old city K-Mart site and then New Federal Building on the site of the current Police Headquarters.

Don't forget about the Covention Center Expansion, that should be completed by 2015.

Don't forget it's a SAPD/SFPD HQ building. :banana:

sirkingwilliam Aug 9, 2008 12:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chicago3rd (Post 3723061)
100% Against anymore money going into the area around Hemisphere until there is a 50 year plan. Too much building and rebuilding.

Take any money they want to spend there and put it into the area bounded by Durango (S) I-35 (W) Dolorosa (N) and the River (E). This area is mostly parking lots and a huge huge eyesore. Extend the river walk west redevelop this area including a new ball park.

SA has been putting money into the Hemesphire area since the 1960's and it is time to just allow the Convention Center to do thing it needs to do to make a living and let downtown SA develop other areas. Could you imagine the SW corner of downtown if the city started putting the money it has put into the Hemisphere area all these decades?

After the World's Fair, not much money has been floated to the way of Hemisphere itself. Mainly Convention Center centric development and Tower of the America touch ups. The city owns the park that's why they want to do something with it. The city doesn't own the land in the area you're talking about. But there is stuff going on in that area as well. The new Fed courthouse, new police/fire HQ.

jaga185 Aug 9, 2008 5:57 AM

SKW, I love your plan. I remember something like that proposed a long time ago for the park, but it wasn't implemented. I could see Rivercenter being upset about that. But as long as there aren't any restaurants on the lake, it wouldn't be too bad for them.

TXlifeguard Aug 10, 2008 11:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by miaht82 (Post 3723235)
Can we get rid of all those probation offices on Dolorosa?
I hate walking down that street with everybody waiting to see their PO's. Perhaps that is where the SAPD headquarters should go, a couple of blocks over from where it is now or in that empty lot in front of the detention center to hide it; then build the Federal building where the old HQ's is at; that way the old Kmart lot could be used for something useful in the downtown area like a grocery store?

They are already a couple months into building a new Bexar County Probation center/offices/HQ across from the current jail (Bexar Co. Detention Facility). Dunno what's gonna happen with their current offices. The city does not own the building, but leases it. That building has seen some hard use over it's life, but I'm not familiar enough with it to say if it's remotely arch. significant. Either way, hopefully someone will do something worthwhile with the building or the site.

I'm all for a downtown grocery store, but let's not be so tied to existing structures. Just because the K-Mart was a 'big box' facility does not mean that's the only place a grocer could go in. Additionally, I don't think a grocery store that would go in would want a space that big. Evidenced by the fact that it's been sitting empty this long. HEB and others aren't stupid. I'd say HEB is about as good as it gets when it comes to knowing what stores would be profitable in which locations. Clearly the market wont bear it yet- last week they just closed the South Presa store- the only remaining 'traditional' store in the downtown area bounded by 10/35/37. They also arent gonna put a store in out of the goodness of their heart, cause that's not what they do, no matter how cool we think it would be or how much we think it would add to the quality of life in DT. They, or someone will go in when it makes financial sense. We're all just gonna have to wrap our heads around that and live with it for a while.

That having been said, I'd like to contradict myself and say I think there is an opportunity for HEB to explore an "HEB Pantry" store concept somewhere in the DT or near DT area. It just seems that here of late they are so concerned with the SuperHEB or HEBPlus concept in SA they can't/wont focus on anything else. I beleive their current strategy is to be competitive with Wal-Mart and SuperTarget by fighting that battle here in SA on those terms. Cause it seems lately, that's all they are building. I haven't been paying attention, but I can't remember when the last time HEB opened a new, regular store that wasn't an HEBPlus.


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