The $51 million renovation of the Granada Homes building on South St. Mary’s and Villita streets is likely to begin in August, the development team told the Heron recently. The project includes restoring the common areas to look almost exactly as they did when the building opened in 1928 as the Plaza Hotel.
The building is owned by the San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council, a local affiliate of D.C.-based AFL-CIO.
Currently, the Granada, 311 S. St. Mary’s St., consists of 249 units and serves low-income seniors. The renovation will expand the units by roughly 25, said Shane Denn, the building’s engineer.
The Granada will continue to serve low-income seniors after the renovation is completed, the development partners, which include local developer Mission DG and the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), have said. Current residents will have the opportunity to continue living at the Granada in an upgraded unit, they said.
Mission DG, which is serving as the developer and guarantor of the loans, as well as assembling the debt and equity, recommended the project to the Trades Council. Mission DG and SAHA are also partnering on the mixed-income apartment complex on Tampico Street on the West Side.
The 18-month restoration is being funded through a variety of sources, including up to $30 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by SAHA, as well as historic tax credits.
“Basically, this project is a poster child for what these various programs hope to achieve, and we are proud to be a part of bringing this Grande Dame back to her former glory, while still servicing the needs for the low-income senior residents to whom this has been home,” Mark Tolley, a Mission DG partner, said in an email.
After the renovations are completed, the lower-priced units will serve individuals making up to 30% of the area median income, or AMI. On the upper end, units will serve people making up to 80% AMI. The total units must average 60% AMI, according to state rules for recipients of low-income housing tax credits.
[ Scroll down for a chart showing AMI levels. ]
All units will have rent restrictions and will accept the Section 8 voucher, Tolley said. The Granada’s 187 residents who currently hold housing vouchers will be returning to the revamped building. SAHA is also securing an additional 94 vouchers tied specifically to the Granada.
Last month, the City Council voted to approve the pursuit 4% low-income housing tax credits to help fund the project.
The renovation includes a complete overhaul of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
The units will be updated with new counter tops and appliances, while the common areas will be restored to the way they were during the 1920s.
“This building will also be entirely rehabilitated to the Department of Interior standards, which is the highest level of historic design review and oversight for historic rehab, and gold standard for projects like this,” Tolley said.
Tolley said the renovation plans will go through a series of approvals at the state and local level, including the Historic and Design Review Commission in San Antonio.
New social services will include a wellness center, food pantry, gym, and riverfront community rooms will be added to made-over grand ballrooms.
“On the amenity and social services side, this building will have many more than it has now, and ones it can’t presently afford,” Tolley said. “The (state) requirements are vast and stringent, and both the building amenities and social services will be dramatically increased.”
The Plaza Hotel was built during San Antonio’s development boom of the 1920s, which also produced the Medical Arts Building, now the Emily Morgan hotel, in 1926; the Milam building in 1926; the Smith-Young Tower, now the Tower Life Building, in 1929 across the street; and the San Antonio Express-News building in 1929.
The Stock Market Crash of 1929 halted the growth.
[ Express-News: Tower Life building opened to great fanfare ]