CPS Energy has sold its former headquarters at 145 Navarro St. on the River Walk to a real estate company that plans to renovate it into a hotel.
The city-owned energy utility sold the 10-story Prohibition-era building and its interest in the adjacent Tower Life building parking garage on Dec. 17 to Blueprint Hospitality, which is based in Houston and Chicago, according to county property records.
The building sold for $19 million, CPS Energy spokeswoman Nora Castro said.
Blueprint Hospitality plans to open a hotel in the building aimed at the upscale market at some point next year, said Kishan Patel, its chief operations officer and managing partner, in an interview. The company is in talks with a hotel brand, he said, declining to offer a name.
“We’re based in Houston and Chicago, so San Antonio is right in our backyard,” he said. “San Antonio is a great market, both from a business and tourist perspective. The proximity to the River Walk was very attractive. It’s a great building.”
Blueprint Hospitality was founded around 2018, but its partners have been working together on hotel projects for 10 or 15 years, Patel said. The company has undertaken multimillion-dollar projects to renovate historic buildings in downtown Little Rock, Ark., and St. Louis, Mo., into hotels. It recently announced on LinkedIn a project to repurpose the Le Meridien by Marriott hotel in downtown Fort Worth.
As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, Patel said he is optimistic about the future of the hospitality market. Blueprint’s hotels offer amenities to customers that are attractive to tourists as well as business travelers, he said.
“We’re pretty optimistic that we’ll get back to some level of normalcy as business travel picks up,” he said. “Texas is booming right now. We feel pretty excited about the connectivity between Austin and San Antonio over the years.”
» Main office building, 145 Navarro St.—SOLD
» Navarro building and garage, 146 Navarro St.—SOLD
» Tower garage connected to main office, 211 Villita St. (portion owned by CPS Energy)—SOLD
» Surface parking, adjacent to Mexican Consulate—SOLD
» Villita Assembly Building, 401 Villita St.
» Northside Customer Service Center, 7000 San Pedro Ave.
» Former Jones Avenue Service Center, 326 W. Jones Ave.
The sale comes more than two years after CPS Energy put the 0.65-acre, 211,000-square-foot building and five other surplus properties up for sale to help offset the cost of building its $210 million new headquarters on McCullough Avenue. The utility’s board voted to put the properties up for sale in September 2018, and they were marketed for sale in 2019.
[ Related: CPS Energy selling six downtown properties | Sept. 25, 2021 ]
In February of last year, the utility sold the first of the properties, the 10-story office building and parking garage at 146 Navarro St., which is connected to the 145 Navarro building by a skywalk. The new owner, Los Angeles-based BH Properties, won approval from the city to launch a $9 million renovation that will remake its office space and create a two-story restaurant space on the River Walk.
[ Related: BH Properties’ $9M renovation of former CPS Energy building in downtown San Antonio receives first approval | July 22, 2021 ]
The remainder of the properties appear to remain unsold. They include the UFO-shaped Villita Assembly building at 401 Villita St., the surface lot next to the Mexican Consulate on Navarro Street and the parking garage between the 145 Navarro building and the Tower Life building.
In 2016, the utility bought two 35-year-old towers at 500 McCullough Ave. with plans to reduce them to their steel structure and renovate them into a state-of-the-art new headquarters with 430,000 square feet of space by 2019. CPS Energy moved into its new headquarters in November 2020.
The utility has recently struggled with the costs it incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic and the winter storm in February, leading it to ask City Council to approve a 3.85 percent rate increase, according to reporting from the San Antonio Express-News. Its CEO, Paula Gold-Williams, has agreed to resign early this year.
Richard Webner is a freelance journalist covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former San Antonio Express-News business reporter. Follow him at @RWebner on Twitter
Kaylee Greenlee Beal is a freelance photojournalist based in San Antonio. She graduated from Baylor University in May 2020 with a major in journalism and minor in political science. Follow her on Twitter at @kayleegreenlee or on Instagram at @kgreenleephoto.