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  #1  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 1:38 PM
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Grand plans for Rivercenter Mall


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Grand plans for Rivercenter Mall


In five years, Rivercenter Mall could complete a metamorphosis from typical mall to part-typical mall, part-entertainment/fine dining complex.

"This is not what you would call a soccer mom mall," said Chris Oviatt, the mall's general manager. "That's not our customer."

What is the mall's customer is the downtown visitor, whether that be tourists or conventioneers. Oviatt said the ratio is nearly 3 to 1 (visitor to local, respectively).

"We wouldn't survive without the visitor industry," he said.

The plan is to retain some retail, but to offer more restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment-oriented options in the next five years.

Intentions to turn the old Joske's building into a multi-entertainment hot spot was first reported in the Express-News last June. I asked Oviatt, "Why haven't we heard anything since?" He said the major pieces needed to be in place before an announcement could be made.

Though he didn't name names, Oviatt said they are looking to lease the third and fourth floors as a history museum.

He said a certain "world-renowned" musician was interested in investing in the museum. When I asked, "Phil Collins?", he smiled: "You can speculate. I can't confirm." Collins, as you may or may not know, is a huge Alamo buff, and even attended the Dawn at the Alamo ceremony on March 6 earlier this year.

Oviatt said they're looking for multi-entertainment-style tenants, somewhere in the vein of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Cafes or Lucky Strike, the bowling/lounge chain. Oviatt threw those names out, but didn't confirm they had signed on.

These types of venues — it seems — offer restaurant-quality food, a nightlife scene and a third component, whether that be live music, bowling, pool, etc.

All of this will be accomplished with a respect for the Joske's building's history.

"We embrace the fact that the historic foundation needs to be retained," Oviatt said.

He added that once the major players are in place, they will announce the plans, but that it will still be a year to 18 months before "we can start swinging hammers," he said.

Much of the third and fourth floors of the Joske's building has been vacant since Dillard's bought the building in 1987. Dillard's only occupied 131,000 square feet of the building's overall 500,000.

"We have plenty of room to work with," Oviatt said.

Fogo de Cháo, a Brazilian steakhouse that serves its meat carved tableside straight from the skewer, is scheduled to open early- to mid-August, street-level on the river near the mall's lagoon area, at Commerce Street.

Oviatt said a high-end nightcluby tenant that "people will be excited about" has committed to the space under Fogo, but added that announcing said tenant depends on a commitment of another across the river.

Construction on that side — the west side of the river — hasn't yet begun, but, when completed, there will be space for three additional restaurants. Local architecture firm S.A. Partnership is at the helm.

The mall is owned by New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., whose most notable properties include several in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. Ashkenazy purchased the mall in 2005, and the old Joske's last year.

Oviatt makes no bones about Ashkenazy's love affair with out-of-towners (after all, that is their customer), but he does hope San Antonians respond to the new restaurants, just as locals have responded to similar, Loop 1604 growth.

"Food caters to both a visitor and a local," he said. "We are aware that many San Antonians are not accustomed to regularly visiting downtown. . . We would love to see that change."
Anyone want to speculate on what the high-end nightcluby tenant is?
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Old Posted May 13, 2009, 2:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post



Anyone want to speculate on what the high-end nightcluby tenant is?
Blue Martini is my guess if all the older renderings are accurate.

Quote:
Oviatt said a high-end nightcluby tenant that "people will be excited about" has committed to the space under Fogo, but added that announcing said tenant depends on a commitment of another across the river.
A little research has led me to think that it might be Bar Louie. In a quick search of Blue Martini locations, in Tampa and Orlando, both in Malls, they have three places in common; Bar Louie, Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza. That is of course if the "tenant" is even Blue Martini.
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Last edited by miaht82; May 13, 2009 at 2:48 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 2:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miaht82 View Post
Blue Martini is my guess if all the older renderings are accurate.
You could be right but would that be a place "people will be excited about" as per the article?
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Old Posted May 13, 2009, 3:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
You could be right but would that be a place "people will be excited about" as per the article?
Maybe thats what they're hoping? IDK, I've never been to one.
The space under Fogo de Chao is small, I don't see anything much larger than a lounge/bar there. When I took a look at the construction, I thought it was going to be a bar area that was part of the restaurant.
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  #5  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 7:07 PM
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Is very interesting to watch this evolving entertainment zone around there. RiverCenter Comedy Club, the Riverwalk (with such places as Howl at the Moon), and now the Joskes Building...

There is potential for a Vegas-like appeal (multiple choices for fine food, drinks, and trendy diversions) all within walking distance and all feeding off of each other's popularity. Um, without the gambling of course.
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  #6  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 7:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
Is very interesting to watch this evolving entertainment zone around there. RiverCenter Comedy Club, the Riverwalk (with such places as Howl at the Moon), and now the Joskes Building...

There is potential for a Vegas-like appeal (multiple choices for fine food, drinks, and trendy diversions) all within walking distance and all feeding off of each other's popularity. Um, without the gambling of course.

I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the list of locations for Margaritaville and Blue Martini (just because those names were tossed around.) Imagine the new list if they do come here:
Alot of cities in Florida, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Antonio?
Is that the grouping were falling into now? It just might be if we consider all the other similarities; conventions, # of golf courses, climate, tourist destination, etc. That might just be what we need to land a major league sport here. Super Bowl in SA by 2020?
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  #7  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 7:31 PM
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It's about time, I was on Houston street on saturday night... it was pretty dead at about 1:30 am, we need more nightlife! This is perfect to bring to Rivercenter.
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  #8  
Old Posted May 13, 2009, 8:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jaga185 View Post
It's about time, I was on Houston street on saturday night... it was pretty dead at about 1:30 am, we need more nightlife! This is perfect to bring to Rivercenter.
be thankful.

it was only a few years ago that you would be "pretty dead" if you were walking on houston at 1:30am.
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Old Posted May 13, 2009, 8:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
be thankful.

it was only a few years ago that you would be "pretty dead" if you were walking on houston at 1:30am.
Yeah, even growing up (pre-Rivercenter) I remember walking to the Woolworths and the Kress, passing the Alfonsos across from the Dillards, Pizza Hut, Time-Out, Burger King on the way. I remember the big deal over the names on the bricks, then the next 15 years were like a blur. Boy things surely are different on Alamo & Houston.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 5:23 AM
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Maybe a little off-topic, but my wife and I went to the Fogo de Chao they just opened in KC, and that place is awesome. The service was the best I'd ever experienced and the food was really good, too, with a really cool concept for serving it. Should make a really good addition to downtown and maybe pull in some '09ers and folks from Stone Oak. It'll have to, because its quite pricey.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 8:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miaht82 View Post
I was thinking the exact same thing when I saw the list of locations for Margaritaville and Blue Martini (just because those names were tossed around.) Imagine the new list if they do come here:
Alot of cities in Florida, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Antonio?
Is that the grouping were falling into now? It just might be if we consider all the other similarities; conventions, # of golf courses, climate, tourist destination, etc. That might just be what we need to land a major league sport here. Super Bowl in SA by 2020?
A Superbowl is definitely a possibility for San Antonio once we finally land a team. In fact I contend that the entertainment infrastructure is already in place for the NFL and a Championship game even before any renovations to Rivercenter. Although I believe that big economic boons like Medtronic moving 1400 well-paying jobs down here are more of a factor in helping us obtain an NFL team than more shops or restaurants.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 1:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bresilhac View Post
A Superbowl is definitely a possibility for San Antonio once we finally land a team. In fact I contend that the entertainment infrastructure is already in place for the NFL and a Championship game even before any renovations to Rivercenter. Although I believe that big economic boons like Medtronic moving 1400 well-paying jobs down here are more of a factor in helping us obtain an NFL team than more shops or restaurants.
I think we could've had an NFL team too. And I also agree that big boons to our economy like Medtronic, WB & BRAC are a huge factor, but I think it has to be a healthy combination of that and upkeep of the city (which includes shops and entertainment.) Both give SA somewhat of a national spotlight in more ways than people think; to companies looking to move here, people looking to move here, and companies like Ashkenazy or FRIT looking at downtown for opportunities for development.

For many years the Riverwalk and Alamo were not too kid friendly; all we had was the Circus Museum (which I loved as a kid) and the Time-out arcade to waste my parents money. But then Ripleys showed up and we kept up the Zoo, Sea World and Fiesta Texas popped up and all of a sudden San Antonio is a family friendly place. Add a few clubs and bars DT and that is enough to entertain the convention crowds. So now if DT has the potential of evolving into this entertainment zone like sakyle said, it will have a different appeal of sorts to people/locals and visitors/tourists to go downtown and possibly live downtown. Introduce new jobs to SA (that aren't halfway to Boerne) and all of a sudden you have draw to change some of the demographics and remove this stigma that SA is not a lively enough place and can't support a major league team (some people who have never been think of, say, Laredo with the Alamo & Riverwalk when you mention SA to them).

no offense to Laredo, just using an example of a smaller Texas town.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 2:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bresilhac View Post
A Superbowl is definitely a possibility for San Antonio once we finally land a team. In fact I contend that the entertainment infrastructure is already in place for the NFL and a Championship game even before any renovations to Rivercenter. Although I believe that big economic boons like Medtronic moving 1400 well-paying jobs down here are more of a factor in helping us obtain an NFL team than more shops or restaurants.
I agree with this in principle. And I think miaht has it right about the entertainment that could be built downtown as a chicken and egg situation with more living/working options there...

But let's be clear that a SuperBowl is such a tiny possibility for San Antonio, it is basically silly to even talk of it. No NFL team is coming here without the promise of a new stadium. The Alamodome is nowhere near even being a temporary home for the NFL (the MLS is a different story).

So, here is the series of dominos that need to fall:

- Guarantee an NFL team a new stadium (Imagine that vote)
- Win vote and get promised an NFL team as a result (we are currently no better than the 3rd option for expansion/relocation)
- Build said stadium (3-5 year process)
- Host several years of games (Dallas' new stadium is opening 2009 and hosting SuperBowl in 2011)
- Host SuperBowl

So, what are we talking about here? 2020? 2025? If that?

And at the current cost of a new stadium (almost $1 Billion), is that really something we want around here?
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
I agree with this in principle. And I think miaht has it right about the entertainment that could be built downtown as a chicken and egg situation with more living/working options there...

But let's be clear that a SuperBowl is such a tiny possibility for San Antonio, it is basically silly to even talk of it. No NFL team is coming here without the promise of a new stadium. The Alamodome is nowhere near even being a temporary home for the NFL (the MLS is a different story).

So, here is the series of dominos that need to fall:

- Guarantee an NFL team a new stadium (Imagine that vote)
- Win vote and get promised an NFL team as a result (we are currently no better than the 3rd option for expansion/relocation)
- Build said stadium (3-5 year process)
- Host several years of games (Dallas' new stadium is opening 2009 and hosting SuperBowl in 2011)
- Host SuperBowl

So, what are we talking about here? 2020? 2025? If that?

And at the current cost of a new stadium (almost $1 Billion), is that really something we want around here?
I guess talk of the SB was me getting a little carried away with a little daydreaming, but you're right that MLS wouldn't be too much of a stretch in the next couple of years. I do think (realisitcally)that NFL could be here by 2025; if alot of the right things happen in the next 15 years.
Even baseball stadiums are over half a billion so even that has a hefty price tag.
But the "grand plans" are definitely a step in the right direction.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 3:40 PM
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This is obviously a minority opinion among Texans, but I'd rather SA get an MLB team than an NFL team. Nothing beats an afternoon baseball game at a downtown stadium
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 3:58 PM
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This is obviously a minority opinion among Texans, but I'd rather SA get an MLB team than an NFL team. Nothing beats an afternoon baseball game at a downtown stadium
Me too. I think I've mentioned my wish of a stadium DT with the skyline over the left field wall. But you're right that majority opinion might swing to the NFL first.
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  #17  
Old Posted May 14, 2009, 9:51 PM
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Should make a really good addition to downtown and maybe pull in some '09ers and folks from Stone Oak. It'll have to, because its quite pricey.
Don't know how many Stone Oakers it'll pull as Stone Oak already has Chama Guacha. Which is a Brazilian steakhouse with basically the same premise as Fogo.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 9:59 PM
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Why can't a new stadium be built with private money? The San Diego Chargers plan to build their new stadium wherever it is with private funds. Imagine if we lured them to SA, no vote necessary and the county could give them land for dirt cheap or even free next to the arena.

I know, can you say pipe and dream? But still, nothing wrong with dreaming.

I just wish one of our multiple billionaires would just pull a Clay Bennett. Jacksonville, St. Louis, San Diego, etc are all struggling with either stadium issues or attendance issues or a combination of both.
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Old Posted May 14, 2009, 11:36 PM
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Old Posted May 15, 2009, 2:20 AM
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I just wish one of our multiple billionaires would just pull a Clay Bennett. Jacksonville, St. Louis, San Diego, etc are all struggling with either stadium issues or attendance issues or a combination of both.
I dunno man, that really sucks what happened to Seattle with the Sonics. It worries me that that sort of thing could potentially happen with the Spurs someday. Just shows how easy it is to relocate a team even with a loyal fan base.

Anyway, if the Chargers moved anywhere it would probably be to LA. Same with Jacksonville, from everything I've read. The Rams are kind of a joke around Missouri (moreso even than the Chiefs), and I'd personally rather hold out for a decent team than inherit somebody else's embarrassment. Beggars can't be choosers, though.
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