On Thursday morning, the City Council approved the sale of 4½ acres of Dolorosa street for the multimillion-dollar expansion of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown campus on the near West Side.
The sale price is $7.3 million, according to the agenda.
The first phase, calculated at $341 million by the city, includes the construction of UTSA’s new School of Data Science and the National Security Collaboration Center at 506 and 702 Dolorosa, respectfully, just south of City Hall.
“Twenty years ago people fought very hard for a downtown campus and it never materialized the way it was intended to be,” District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales said.
But the discussion was not without some controversy.
While rhapsodizing about UTSA’s expansion plan, calling it a game-changer for the long-neglected near West Side, three Council members — Greg Brockhouse (District 6), John Courage (District 9), and Clayton Perry (District 10) — also chided city officials for what they called a lack of timely information about the details of the sale.
“If you want my vote—maybe you don’t—it needs to be earned, (and) that means inclusion and every party brought into the process,” Brockhouse said.
The Council and the rest of the nearly packed Council chambers, mostly filled with people waiting to chime in on the subsequent Alamo master plan vote, also heard concerns from a West Side activism group over how the expansion may assist in gentrification.
“We do not want to see the historic West Side be erased by what might ultimately be a good intention for increased student enrollment. We simply ask that UTSA engage the community on decisions that will impact the community tremendously,” Yaneth Flores, a member of the Westside Preservation Alliance, told the Council.
After the vote, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said the university would begin the community engagement process in November or December.
UTSA’s plans also include the relocation of its School of Business on a piece of land on Dolorosa, currently owned by Bexar County, between the two city properties.
This month, UTSA will begin soliciting bids for a developer to build a 1,500-bed, student housing tower—between 10 and 15 stories in height—on its Cattleman’s Square parking lot just north of the main downtown campus.
The university plans also include a collaboration with the city on the adaptive reuse of the former Continental Hotel, 322 W. Commerce St., into housing for UTSA grad students and faculty.
UTSA anticipates growing its downtown student population from 5,000 to 17,000 by 2028. It also expects its faculty and staff numbers to increase to 2,000 in that timeframe.
» UTSA has more up its sleeve for downtown campus
» UTSA downtown campus to expand east of the interstate