Downtown Housing in the 2020s
» When: 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19; discussion begins at 7:30 p.m.
» Where: The Cherrity Bar, 302 Montana St.
» Cost: Free • Facebook event page
We are thrilled to host our first panel discussion, on Feb. 19 at The Cherrity Bar, on a topic we report on extensively: Housing, in particular downtown residential growth and its impact on San Antonio’s urban neighborhoods.
For our discussion titled “Downtown Housing in the 2020s,” we’ve asked four people will deep knowledge of downtown and housing to help explain how we got here, and where we’re going: Mayor Ron Nirenberg; Sofia Lopez, housing researcher and San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) board member; Randy Smith, Weston Urban president; and Assistant City Manager Lori Houston. Heron Editor Ben Olivo will moderate.
Our four guest speakers have each played significant roles of late in how San Antonio’s urban core is being shaped.
Nirenberg, two years ago, changed the city’s downtown housing strategy after he ordered a revision of the incentives policy to create more affordability. Lopez, who has served on SAHA’s board of commissioners for a year, has consistently pushed for more transparency in projects in which the housing authority partners with a private developer. Having just completed the Frost Tower, Smith and Weston Urban now turn their attention toward building housing—lots and lots of housing—in west downtown, where UTSA is also planting roots. And Houston, who oversees two city departments directly involved in urban growth, downtown development, and neighborhood and housing services, is charged with creating density while keeping prices affordable—no easy task.
Among the questions we want to tackle: How does San Antonio strike the balance of creating a denser and more vibrant central city, while doing it in an equitable, affordable way? How is the area doing in terms of supply? Is the demand still strong for downtown living? What about gentrification?
A quick primer
We have seen dozens of developments go up mainly around downtown’s perimeter the last 10 years—from large-scale apartment buildings to smaller clusters of for-sale, single-family townhomes. The growth has had considerable impact on property values, in particular, on the near East Side. In this time, Southtown has flourished into a culinary destination, and the Pearl has continued its metamorphosis from abandoned brewery into an upper-class community that regularly opens up to all San Antonians via free programming.
The center of downtown remains a work in progress as the housing developments continue to inch toward the core.
Looking at the big picture, this moment, here at the beginning of the 2020s, feels like a lull before the more significant explosion of development happens in central San Antonio: UTSA’s historic expansion downtown, twin residential towers, Hemisfair’s completion, the Alamo Plaza master plan, among other major projects.
On Feb. 19, at The Cherrity Bar on the near East Side, we hope to address as much of this complex topic as possible with our guest speakers.
We realize there are many folks in the community who have deep knowledge and strong opinions about housing and its many complexities. We hope this is the first of several discussions about housing and downtown and neighborhoods the Heron will host this year.