After a three-year delay, the 121-room Artista Hotel planned for a compact property on East Travis Street and the San Antonio River is back on track and received final approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) on Wednesday.
California developer Jake Harris, whose company Harris Bay is also converting the Travis Building next door from office space to luxury apartments, is developing this River Walk boutique hotel at 151 E. Travis St.
The hotel will rise eight stories and include a river-level bar and street-level restaurant.
Harris envisions locals who are living and working in the area’s established and developing properties, led by Weston Urban projects such as the 32-story 300 Main apartment tower, currently under construction a block west from the hotel site, frequenting the bar and restaurant.
“You’re starting to see a metamorphosis of our downtown,” Harris said. “There’s not a lot of raw pieces of parcel available on the horseshoe (section of the River Walk).”
He said the north-south stretch of the river, as opposed to the touristy horseshoe bend and its convention center extension, is ripe for development.
“It lends itself to the residents, to people who live in San Antonio who are going to live in 300 Main, who are going to work at the Weston Centre … come into it and experience the restaurant—not necessarily in the hotel,” he said.
Harris anticipates breaking ground on the hotel in the “next few months,” and expects construction to take about 20 months to complete.
The brand for the Arista Hotel will be a Morgans Original, which is a label under the Accor group of France.
The group will operate the bar and restaurant.
The hotel’s design by CREO Architecture (San Antonio) was last presented to the HDRC in 2019, when it received conceptual approval. Harris attributed the delay to the rise in construction costs in recent years.
“Capital markets have not been our friend as of late—interest rates, the Fed, what’s happening with inflation,” Harris said. “But this is the next step in the process where we can get to a place where we can break ground.”
Harris Bay and CREO Architecture satisfied the concerns the HDRC (composed mostly of different commissioners) had in 2019, including eliminating a cantilever feature over the River Walk.
The team must also incorporate pieces of the River Walk stone wall that it demolished back into the project. A member of CREO Architecture told the HDRC that its “goal is to maintain as much of the wall as we can.” The property line actually rests in the middle of the wall, they said.
Other historic features, such as lanterns attached to the wall, and a (River Walk architect) Hugman-era bench, must remain along this stretch of the river.
During the meeting, Cory Edwards, Deputy Historic Preservation Officer, told commissioners he didn’t realize CREO Architecture planned to move the River Walk walkway closer to the wall. The HDRC approved the overall plan, but ordered CREO Architecture to return to the city’s Office of Historic Preservation with a detailed plan for how it will reconfigure the public right-of-way on the River Walk.
The .2-acre patch of land was once home to a single-story commercial building. It was demolished sometime after 2017.
For this project, Harris Bay is tapping into the Opportunity Zone federal incentive program, in which investors get deferred payments on their capital gains taxes—in this case, until 2027, Harris said.
— Ben Olivo, San Antonio Heron
» Address: 151 E. Travis St.
» Developer: Harris Bay (Roseville, Calif.)
» Property owner: Harris Bay (Roseville, Calif.)
» Status: Planning stage
» Height: 8 stories
» Land size: .2 acres
» Total rooms: 121
» Retail: River-level bar, street-level restaurant
» Residential: N/A
» Office: N/A
» Parking: N/A
» Construction start date: First quarter 2023
» End date: First quarter 2025
» Architect: CREO Architecture (San Antonio)
» Cost: Unknown
» Investors: Unknown
» Financing: Unknown
» San Antonio Incentives: N/A
» Bexar County incentives: N/A
» Texas incentives: N/A
» Federal incentives: Opportunity Zone (estimated worth unknown)
» Total public subsidy: Unknown
June 5, 2019
The Historic and Design Review Commission grants conceptual approval for a hotel at 1511 E. Travis St. to be developed by Harris Bay. Read more
April 29, 2019
Harris Bay, working under an LLC called IconicOZ Artista Fund, purchases the property at 151 E. Travis St. from Key West, Florida-based Seaside Hospitality Corporation, according to county deed reco0rds.
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