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Old Posted Jan 22, 2010, 10:41 PM
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Segregation-Who is with me?

San Antonio is very light on residential downtown. There have been some major additions in the last couple of years, and others to come...

But I don't like the idea of pushing for residential in the "defacto" tourism sector of downtown. I don't think that tourist areas should have much residential. For one, businesses that are attracted to tourist areas don't necessarily translate to local residents.

I like the idea of a segregated downtown. I like the direction the Planning has set in place for growth.

Touist District: This is obviously very strong and always getting stronger. It is nice to visit every once in a while, but not a daily destination for locals.

Residential Districts: There are several that are developing in Downtown SA, with River North hopefully developing into a true urban neighborhood. I don't have the ability to live downtown at this point in my life, but I know that there are a lot draw to urban living that a lot of San Antonians haven't had the opportunity to experience. I guess this is the if you build it "right", they will come scenario.

CBD: I don't think there would be much arguement with me stating that SA's CBD is very weak. Along with residential this is the district that I would like to see grow in SA.

Public Service/Government District: This is another strong and growing district in downtown SA. With the new courthouse coming in 4-6 years, the COSA Public Safety HQ coming in 2-3, and the new BC building topped out with occupancy coming in the forseeable future, this district is only going to be more built out.

These are just some examples of the type of segregation that I am talking about.

It appears that this is what the city planners are trying to do, does anyone disagree with this? I am interested in hearing how others envision downtown.

Last edited by STLtoSA; Jan 25, 2010 at 8:20 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2010, 10:53 PM
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I do agree with this, although I believe a general exception should be made for residential. I do believe that River North should be strictly local/residential, but I don't think that it shouldn't be spotted anywhere else. We should take residential wherever we can get it DT.
And about that CBD; wouldn't it be great if Nationwide picks the CBD for constructing it's new 300,000 sq. ft. regional HQ's? In a small lot that could probably get us up and maybe over 25 floors. They have yet to make a site selection for the new construction but right now it's just wishful thinking on my part.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2010, 4:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STLtoSA View Post
CBD: I don't think there would be much arguement with me stating that SA's CBD is very week.
Oh but we can argue that statement. As it is very very wrong.

But seriously, yes to the segregation of "downtown".

I'll see your list and raise you a "Hotel District."
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  #4  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2010, 4:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STLtoSA View Post
San Antonio is very light on residential downtown. There have been some major additions in the last couple of years, and others to come...

But I don't like the idea of pushing for residential in the "defacto" tourism sector of downtown. I don't think that tourist areas should have much residential. For one, businesses that are attracted to tourist areas don't necessarily translate to local residents.

I like the idea of a segregated downtown. I like the direction the Planning has set in place for growth.

Touist District: This is obviously very strong and always getting stronger. It is nice to visit every once in a while, but not a daily destination for locals.

Residential Districts: There are several that are developing in Downtown SA, with River North hopefully developing into a true urban neighborhood. I don't have the ability to live downtown at this point in my life, but I know that there are a lot draw to urban living that a lot of San Antonians haven't had the opportunity to experience. I guess this is the if you build it "right", they will come scenario.

CBD: I don't think there would be much arguement with me stating that SA's CBD is very week. Along with residential this is the district that I would like to see grow in SA.

Public Service/Government District: This is another strong and growing district in downtown SA. With the new courthouse coming in 4-6 years, the COSA Public Safety HQ coming in 2-3, and the new BC building topped out with occupancy coming in the forseeable future, this district is only going to be more built out.

These are just some examples of the type of segregation that I am talking about.

It appears that this is what the city planners are trying to do, does anyone disagree with this? I am interested in hearing how others envision downtown.
River North, Govt dist are downtown. So is the Alamodome, UTSA downtown campus and the pearl. I would say districts of downtown. I wouldn't break them up and say they are not downtown.
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U.S. Dept of Defense $48.5 billion/Manufacturing $40.5 billion/Healthcare-Biosciences $40 billion/Finance-Insurance $20 billion/Tourism $15 billion/ Technology $10 billion.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2010, 5:30 AM
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It is good to have some diversity, but because of San Antonio's unique situation of having a heavily touristy downtown, locals might not want to intertwine with that and would rather have a more quiet neighborhood. And yes, downtown neighborhoods can most certainly be quiet. At least two growing residential areas of downtown Austin are pretty much the quietest places in all of downtown, and even quieter than some more traditional single family residential neighborhoods outside of downtown. Both of these are so quiet I can stand in the middle of the street to take photos and not encounter any cars, but the foot traffic is healthy. I wouldn't divide it up too much, but I can definitely see how downtown residents might not like the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas. One thing though, I would caution against dividing it too much. Some commercial office areas of downtowns can sometimes be pretty slow. The southern end of Austin's downtown, especially on Congress, had all office buildings with some older buildings (from the 1880s) that are used for shops and stuff. Still, those office towers aren't the most pedestrian friendly and don't really contribute to the street life. They lack any street level retail and are setback from the street. I've noticed there's a similar situation in San Antonio too, around the Weston Centre, Bank of America Center and Riverwalk Place. What would be nice is to allow some residential projects in those areas that are a bit slower than other areas, so that you can bring in some more activity at the street. Imagine residential buildings wrapped in street level retail with all kinds of services that someone might need everyday, even office workers. Combine the residents of those buildings with the office workers, and you could have a busier street life. That's starting to take place here where new residential buildings have basically forced this to happen because of the sheer number of new people walking around. It's also good for downtown because it keeps office workers in downtown even on their lunch break. And encourages them to come down out of their office for lunch, rather than leaving downtown or just staying in their office.

By the way, downtown San Antonio already is pretty segregated. The convention center, Tower of the Americas, Rivercenter Mall and the Marriott Hotels and Grand Hyatt and over to the Alamo, are all the major tourist area of downtown on one side. The farther you go west in downtown the more you only see office buildings, with a few hotels here and there.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2010, 8:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in S.A TX View Post
River North, Govt dist are downtown. So is the Alamodome, UTSA downtown campus and the pearl. I would say districts of downtown. I wouldn't break them up and say they are not downtown.
River North isn't Downtown Paul, neither is the Pearl.

I mean you can continue to assert this all you want but COSA and the Downtown Alliance themselves say differently.
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Old Posted Jan 24, 2010, 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
River North isn't Downtown Paul, neither is the Pearl.

I mean you can continue to assert this all you want but COSA and the Downtown Alliance themselves say differently.
I'ts the CBD. To me all these areas is what makes the downtown area.
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San Antonio economy and largest economic sectors. Annual contribution towards GDP.
U.S. Dept of Defense $48.5 billion/Manufacturing $40.5 billion/Healthcare-Biosciences $40 billion/Finance-Insurance $20 billion/Tourism $15 billion/ Technology $10 billion.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2010, 2:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul in S.A TX View Post
I'ts the CBD. To me all these areas is what makes the downtown area.
Sure, but you can't all group it together as one.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2010, 6:25 PM
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I wasn't using CBD as a synonym to Downtown, but rather the Central "Business" District of downtown. Over the years the two terms have almost been fused together, but there is truely a difference. What I was saying is that all of these districts make up downtown, not that they are separated.

I also agree that residential districts shouldn't be just residential, the segregation that I refer to has more to do with the Tourism/Hotel District. I broke it up the way that I did in order to label the basic generic districts that make up Downtown SA.

I would love for someone to explain to me the greatness of San Antonio's CBD (I don't want to sound like I am hating). It has to be one of the weakest when compared with its population of the top 50 US metros. This isn't dissing San Antonio, its just the way it is. This doesn't mean that the economy in SA is weak, but rather that the CBD is not as much of a focal point on the overall "Economy" of the metro as the average American city's is. On the other hand we might have the largest amount per capita of suburban highrises.

San Antonio is very decentralized, that is a fact. I am hoping for a strengthening of downtown into what it should be, used to be.
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Old Posted Jan 25, 2010, 7:51 PM
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Originally Posted by STLtoSA View Post
I wasn't using CBD as a synonym to Downtown, but rather the Central "Business" District of downtown. Over the years the two terms have almost been fused together, but there is truely a difference. What I was saying is that all of these districts make up downtown, not that they are separated.

I also agree that residential districts shouldn't be just residential, the segregation that I refer to has more to do with the Tourism/Hotel District. I broke it up the way that I did in order to label the basic generic districts that make up Downtown SA.

I would love for someone to explain to me the greatness of San Antonio's CBD (I don't want to sound like I am hating). It has to be one of the weakest when compared with its population of the top 50 US metros. This isn't dissing San Antonio, its just the way it is. This doesn't mean that the economy in SA is weak, but rather that the CBD is not as much of a focal point on the overall "Economy" of the metro as the average American city's is. On the other hand we might have the largest amount per capita of suburban highrises.

San Antonio is very decentralized, that is a fact. I am hoping for a strengthening of downtown into what it should be, used to be.
I know it was not directed at me, and I don't want to make assumptions, but I think that SKW was poking fun that you said our CBD was week.
I also think the CBD is weak. Now, I don't want to put a hard figure on it, but even if we fill in the space that AT&T left on Houston St. with a major corporate presence, 1 more high-rise with some kind of major regional HQ's (or similar,) and a couple of more companies beefing up presence in some unfilled space; in total adding a significant # of employees in DT, then we could probably say that the CBD is still borderline "ok." Although, I would have to say, I would be a bit satisfied if it were just "ok."
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Old Posted Jan 25, 2010, 8:21 PM
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That is funny, I didn't even notice the sarcasm.

I maed the correction.
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Old Posted Jan 26, 2010, 6:19 AM
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http://recenter.tamu.edu/mreports/SanAntonio.pdf

Downtown SA (here defined as the CBD) has around 5.3 million square feet of office space, which I believe puts it on par with cities like Memphis or Jacksonville. Of this, 20.5% was vacant as of first quarter 2009 (reflecting AT&T's move in 2008). However, even before AT&T left there was almost 19% vacancy (4th quarter 2007), so its not like the office part of downtown was jumping and only since AT&T left has it become a ghost town. Now, non-CBD office space was at 18% vacancy at the beginning of 2009, (up from 11% at the end of '07), but anyone who is remotely familiar with SA knows that its the suburbs that are the place business is going. This isn't a slap at SA's downtown, its just that all the labor is on the Northside and in Westover Hills. That's why those areas continue to get all of the office development and the cool stuff that comes with it.

How then do we get these skilled workers downtown? You can't have a partial solution, because few people will live in a nice apartment or fancy condo downtown if it still means commuting to the suburbs. But most businesses won't move downtown unless they can be close to their employees and/or potential talent pools. The key I think lies in every part of the city being an attractive place to live, and not just Northside and Northeast ISD. This will cause the CBD to truly become "central" again, and make it logical for employers to locate there, because it will mean they have every part of the city to draw labor from.
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Old Posted Jan 26, 2010, 3:31 PM
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Originally Posted by oldmanshirt View Post
http://recenter.tamu.edu/mreports/SanAntonio.pdf

Downtown SA (here defined as the CBD) has around 5.3 million square feet of office space, which I believe puts it on par with cities like Memphis or Jacksonville. Of this, 20.5% was vacant as of first quarter 2009 (reflecting AT&T's move in 2008). However, even before AT&T left there was almost 19% vacancy (4th quarter 2007), so its not like the office part of downtown was jumping and only since AT&T left has it become a ghost town. Now, non-CBD office space was at 18% vacancy at the beginning of 2009, (up from 11% at the end of '07), but anyone who is remotely familiar with SA knows that its the suburbs that are the place business is going. This isn't a slap at SA's downtown, its just that all the labor is on the Northside and in Westover Hills. That's why those areas continue to get all of the office development and the cool stuff that comes with it.

How then do we get these skilled workers downtown? You can't have a partial solution, because few people will live in a nice apartment or fancy condo downtown if it still means commuting to the suburbs. But most businesses won't move downtown unless they can be close to their employees and/or potential talent pools. The key I think lies in every part of the city being an attractive place to live, and not just Northside and Northeast ISD. This will cause the CBD to truly become "central" again, and make it logical for employers to locate there, because it will mean they have every part of the city to draw labor from.
As of late, and I wouldn't have said this a few years ago, but if a company wants to grab from the larger pool, they would be DT, or at least the geographic center which is North Star area. As of now, the commute isn't scaring anyone into not working anywhere around town, and DT is no exception. Traffic and congestion is proof that people don't live near where they work, although this can change once the BRAC effect hits.
I put a scenario out there that was probably "best case" and a quick "solution" by getting in 3-4 large companies with lots of employees. Government involvement, offering larger tax incentives than they would for a project in the burbs, has to be the driving force in getting companies DT. Centro Partnership may finally be the booster that DT needs.
So business before residents? This may not have to be the case. The growth of DT could also depend on the expansion of small companies; law firms, medical offices, architectual firms, etc. These people will fuel any River North projects coming online in the next few years, filling out office space at 1221 and the Pearl, helping spur that residential growth. Once there is a true "there" there, people will live there, even if it is just curiosity that makes them live there for the first couple of years or so. People like the shiny and new, but not many are willing to be the "first" at anything.
Having the CBD be cental again is key as well. I think that time and growth will solve that problem. In 3-7 years, we'll see substantial growth on the southside and It will slowly become the "Center" of the city again.
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Old Posted Jan 26, 2010, 5:04 PM
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying downtown (as in, non-"touristy" areas or functions) won't add new residents without jobs. But its not going to be a day and night hub of activity for locals unless there's more of both. And each depends on the other for downtown to be anything like what most of us here want it to be. Here in Kansas City, the downtown has had the opposite problem, with lots of office workers during the day who clear out at night and make it a ghost town. SA still has the riverwalk at night, but it seems like what most of us are talking about is extending that 18-20 hour window of activity throughout all of downtown.

I really believe a lot of that has to do with making the south side - and east side - appealing places for people to live, even if its outside 410. As it is right now, your average SAian, who doesn't care much about skyscrapers or density, probably views downtown as being right across the tracks from the south side. To them, it might as well be the same because to them the heart of the city is the airport or North Star or the Med Center area. That has to change, and downtown has to become the actual heart of the city again for it to grow in the way we want it.
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