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Old Posted Nov 3, 2009, 3:42 PM
jlav74 jlav74 is offline
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Premonition of NEW Residential Highrises in Downtown on the Horizon?

Hello all, I'm not really new to this forum, I've been an avid reader for quite sometime. I never get around to commenting on posts, but I found this article to be somewhat interesting. If I'm reading it correctly, it appears as though the need for residential living (highrise condos - hopefully) is starting to heat up! Let's just pray this means more highrise condos ultimately transcending to attracting more business(es) downtown to build office towers to compliment and accommodate the new residential development! Oh yes, a downtown grocery store as others have pointed out countless times would help too! I truly feel San Antonio is vastly approaching a new era of downtown development in the near and distant future! Watch out Austin, Dallas and Houston! Make way for S.A.!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

More downtown residential will help San Antonio's tourism, industry leaders say

San Antonio Business Journal - by W. Scott Bailey

Top hospitality industry officials say San Antonio leaders must work now to create a more livable downtown.

They say a larger center city residential component is vital to the long-term health of a multibillion-dollar visitor industry that has faced tough challenges in 2009.

Trinity University professors Richard Butler and Mary Stefl have produced a new study which concludes that the economic impact from San Antonio’s hospitality industry in 2008 totalled $11 billion. But 2009 has presented some challenges as San Antonio and the nation have continued to fight through a severe economic downturn.

As tourism officials look to 2010 for some improvement, they also look downtown for some help. Henry Feldman is chairman of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council. He is an industry journeyman with international credentials and perspective.

Feldman says San Antonio is at an evolutionary crossroads. He says if local leaders want to continue to attract more visitors to the city long-term, then they must work to bring more local residents downtown.

“This is critical. It’s absolutely critical,” Feldman says. “San Antonio has a number of things in place to make this one of the most livable downtown areas in the country. We’re just missing a few pieces.

“We’ve got to make the extra effort to make this happen, to make downtown more livable,” he adds. “That is how we attract more people. That’s what other cities are doing.”

In fact, Feldman argues that the stakes are greater than the fate of a single industry.

“I think this goes beyond the hospitality industry,” he says. “That’s why I think it’s so critical.”

Places of experience
San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Scott White echoes Feldman’s sentiments.

“Downtown is central to the visitor experience and the residential component is essential,” he says. “From a visitor perspective, a downtown with a strong residential population lends authenticity to the experience, creating an environment that directly reflects, in a genuine way, the culture and lifestyle of the city.”

White says San Antonio, compared to a number of other cities, does have a vibrant downtown.

“But for our downtown to grow and compete with world-class cities, we need to diversify our amenities, public spaces and artistic venues,” he adds.

Multiple U.S. cities have figured out the allure of a livable downtown and that connection with visitors. White points to a couple of examples.

“Our research indicates that Seattle, Portland and Denver have significantly grown their downtown residential population, which has positively impacted their leisure visitation,” White explains. “I think these cities are great examples of how the visitor industry and residential living have complemented each other.”

How critical is it that San Antonio, in its quest to compete with other destinations for more visitors, create a more livable downtown for its residents?

“It is absolutely essential,” says Downtown Alliance San Antonio President Ben Brewer, who is convinced that an increasing number of travelers are in search of places with more local flavor.

“Think San Francisco, Portland ... Austin, Denver, Philadelphia or even the big guys like Houston, New York, L.A. and Chicago,” says Brewer about cities that have built or are building more livable downtown communities and a “localized” experience for visitors.

“Bottom line: We must grow our center city urban population to provide those places of experience,” Brewer adds.

“One of the most important things that we must do is make downtown San Antonio more livable,” Feldman says.
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2009, 7:02 PM
kornbread kornbread is offline
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Posts: 807
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlav74 View Post
Hello all, I'm not really new to this forum, I've been an avid reader for quite sometime. I never get around to commenting on posts, but I found this article to be somewhat interesting. If I'm reading it correctly, it appears as though the need for residential living (highrise condos - hopefully) is starting to heat up! Let's just pray this means more highrise condos ultimately transcending to attracting more business(es) downtown to build office towers to compliment and accommodate the new residential development! Oh yes, a downtown grocery store as others have pointed out countless times would help too! I truly feel San Antonio is vastly approaching a new era of downtown development in the near and distant future! Watch out Austin, Dallas and Houston! Make way for S.A.!!!
Didn't get that message at all. What I did read was that San Antonio was behind in revitalizing downtown, and as a consequence could start losing tourism dollars to other areas that are either more, or becoming more interesting to visit.

As far as new residential, I'll post an article that details the reality of downtown residential projects. I would say that any highrise is definately not in the picture any time soon. Look for midrise government and low rise residential over the next 5 to 10 years.

So far, the city's lack of direction and single-sighted vision has not served the community well. Hopefully that will change, but who knows?
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2009, 7:03 PM
kornbread kornbread is offline
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State of the downtown

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business..._downtown.html

In the face of stricter lending practices for both buyers and developers, the downtown multifamily housing market is making adjustments.

Some proposed condominium projects are shifting to apartment rentals. Others are trying to wait out the recession. Those sticking with condo sales are working around new lending standards.

Speaking at the Downtown Alliance of San Antonio's State of Downtown Luncheon Monday in the Hyatt Regency, part of the organization's Urban Renaissance series, real estate agent and Centro Properties President Debra Maltz said a March change in lending requirements made purchasing a condo in a new development very difficult.

The new lending standards require, among other things, that 70 percent of units be sold before a new sale in a project can be financed.

“For now, it makes the condo sales market pretty challenging,” Maltz said.

Developers of projects such as St. Benedict's on South Alamo Street have ditched their original condo model and will be leasing out apartment units. The changing marketplace also has affected the proposed Clay Street Flats on Probandt Street and Steel House Lofts on South Flores Street.

“A creditworthy buyer with a 20 percent down payment would have an almost impossible time financing a condominium that was built in a new project,” said Chad Carey, the acquisitions manager with Regent Living, the San Antonio development company behind the Clay Street Flats.

The project is indefinitely on hold until Regent can secure financing, Carey said.

Dennis McDaniel, one of the developers of the Steel House Lofts, said the decision to switch from condos to apartments was made last year, before lending practices changed, because it became clear selling would be more challenging than renting. He's in the process of securing financing for the 71-unit development in the former Peden Iron & Steel Co. warehouse, McDaniel said, with construction scheduled to begin early next year.

“You know, when the crisis started a little over a year ago, it just looked like it was going to be tougher for condos,” McDaniel said. “And I don't have any condo experience; I have apartment experience.”

There is demand for downtown apartments, Maltz said. The 247-unit Vistana, which opened in spring, is more than 70 percent leased and the first two phases of the 66-unit St. Benedict's project are 50 percent leased, she said. The last phase is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

New developments that stick with the condo model have found ways to get around the tightened lending standards. Scott Nisson, sales director for the Alteza condos on top of the Grand Hyatt hotel, said Alteza worked with lenders to secure financing for qualified buyers.

Loans have been made for more than 30 of the 146 condos for sale, Nisson said, and the first residents will be able to move in next month.

Other higher-end condo projects near downtown are being spared the effects of the changing lending standards, too.

Mike Reddell, president of Ironstone Marketing Group, the company handling marketing for The Broadway at Hildebrand Avenue and Broadway, said the condo development hasn't had to deal with buyer-financing problems.

“Our buyer already comes with their private banker,” Reddell said. “We don't have a lot of problems with financing because they have their own private banker or qualify for a private banker.”

Also speaking at the State of Downtown Luncheon was Don Thomas, a principal at Reata Real Estate Services, who said the downtown retail and office markets already are beginning to recover. Continued growth in the retail market, Thomas said, hinges on residential growth.

“I think that the future for downtown San Antonio, as far as retail is concerned, is tied to residential,” he said. “For downtown retail truly to thrive, we need more people living in the downtown area.”
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Old Posted Nov 3, 2009, 8:06 PM
jlav74 jlav74 is offline
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Hi Kornbread, thanks for the informative response. I guess I let my intuition and optimism get the best of me. Hehehe I agree w/ everything you said regarding the city's lack of direction and single-sighted vision. I've never lived in a city where its citizens and city officials are so narrow-minded and close-minded to change and economic development. It's like living in a dungeon! S.A. is finally starting to pull its head out of its butt and seeing the light. Unfortunately, it's happening in the midst of a economic downturn/recession. S.A. does have a bright future, let's just hope that the citizens of S.A. embrace the forthcoming changes and stand behind city officials to make it all come to fruition!
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