Updated 12:40 p.m. with renderings of pocket park.
By next summer, Dallas-based Devils River Whiskey will move its headquarters, while opening a second distillery and tasting room, inside the Burns building, 401 E. Houston St.
“When you’re trying to grow a brand, it’s about getting the word out,” said owner Mike Cameron, who lives in San Antonio. “And what better way to do it than in downtown San Antonio, a block from the Alamo, a block from the River Walk.”
Developer David Adelman is renovating the circa-1912 Burns, which has sat vacant since the now-defunct Bromley Communications left in 2015.
Two weeks ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cogeco Peer 1 moved its San Antonio offices into the third and fourth floors of the Burns, respectively
And in the next two months, a barber and coffee shop are scheduled to open on the ground floor.
“It will tremendously activate the street,” Adelman said. “That corner has been dead for so long.”
For Cameron, he said he’ll keep Devils River Whiskey’s main production in Dallas. But when the Burns location is up and running, he said it will produce about three barrels of bourbon a day, “which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s actually quite a bit when it comes to craft distilling,” he said.
Much of the Burns’ first floor and basement will be occupied by Devils River Whiskey’s second distillery, tasting room and offices
Cameron co-founded Rebecca Creek Distillery, but broke off from that operation to start producing Devils River Whiskey in April 2017. It’s now distributed in 10 states. The water used in the distilling process is taken from Devils River, just before it spills into the Amistad Reservoir in West Texas. Some of that water will be transported to the San Antonio location, when it opens, as well as Dallas.
Around the corner, on the other side of Peacock Alley, a new bourbon distillery called Maverick Whiskey, by Dr. Kenneth Maverick, a descendant of Texas Declaration of Independence signer Samuel A. Maverick, is scheduled to open in October.
Also on the Burns’ first floor will go a coffee shop that has yet to be named because the lease hasn’t been signed, Adelman said.
Chuck Holdridge, owner of the Traveler Barbershop, is leaving his airstream trailer on Broadway for the lobby of the Burns.
Both are expected to open in the next two months.
Also, a pocket park that will consume the curbside parking on Jefferson Street is also in the works, said Adelman, who’s founder and principal of AREA Real Estate.
“You’ll have an opportunity for tenants and neighbors to come and hang out,” Adelman said.
Currently, the Burns rehab is due to receive $335,000 in incentives from the Houston Street Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, a mechanism in which tax revenue gained from the rise in property values is reinvested toward public upgrades within the zone.
“It’s partly for that, it’s partly for facade work that we did,” Adelman said. “It’s for what you would consider exterior public improvements, window restoration. At night, you’ll see the building lit up in a way that it hasn’t been.”
Adelman said he’s still looking to fill the second-floor offices with a tenant.
Overall, the Burns totals 53,000 square feet — 40,000 office and 13,000 retail (lobby and basement space).
Adelman said he’s also pursuing state and federal historic tax credits for the restoration project.
The Burns is the latest historic building on Houston Street to be renovated into offices. The others are the Vogue (anchored by Codeup), the Savoy (anchored by Scaleworks), and the Rand (anchored by Geekdom).
Photos by Ben Olivo | San Antonio Heron