By Richard Webner | @RWebner | Heron contributor
Downtown developer GrayStreet Partners has purchased the parking garage attached to the iconic Tower Life Building from the Zachry family, which sold the Prohibition-era tower on the same day to a group of local investors led by the McCombs family.
The seven-story garage on Villita Street is across the street from a one-acre surface lot at 121 Navarro St., which GrayStreet Partners bought from CPS Energy earlier this year for $5.6 million, and adjacent to the utility’s former headquarters at 145 Navarro St., which it sold in December to a real estate company with plans to renovate it into a hotel.
The Zachry family sold both the tower and the parking garage on April 29, county deed records show. It’s unclear how much GrayStreet paid for the garage, which sits on a 0.19-acre property along the River Walk. The Bexar Appraisal District valued it at $2.3 million this year.
[ Related: Tower Life Building sold to ownership group led by McCombs family | May 3, 2022 ]
The appraisal district valued the Tower Life Building at $10.3 million this year. SA Tower Life LP—the entity that the McCombs family, local developer Ed Cross and investor Jon Wiegand formed to buy the tower—borrowed $13.8 million from Encore Bank to complete the transaction, county records show.
In the days before they purchased the properties, GrayStreet and SA Tower Life LP inked a deal in which GrayStreet promised to reserve 145 parking spaces for SA Tower Life’s use.
Peter French, GrayStreet’s director of development, didn’t respond to a text message seeking comment on Tuesday.
When developers consider whether to tackle a project in downtown San Antonio—whether it’s an apartment building, offices or a hotel—one of the first questions they must ask is where the parking will be. Street parking is hard to come by on the often thin and twisting downtown streets, and a spot in a garage—where locals have to compete with free-spending tourists—often costs upwards of $15 a day.
GrayStreet’s general partner, Kevin Covey, is known for unveiling ambitious plans for his downtown acquisitions (though the plans often don’t pan out). It’s unclear whether the firm intends to build on the surface lot at 121 Navarro St.—in January, French told the Heron that the firm would keep operating it as a parking lot—but if it did, having the parking available at the Tower Life garage could prove crucial.
[ Related: GrayStreet Partners buys parking lot next to Mexican Consulate from CPS Energy | Jan. 11, 2022 ]
The parking garage was built in 1955, according to the Bexar Appraisal District. French didn’t respond when asked how many spaces it contains.
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
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If I were running GrayStreet, my plans would be to build something (apartments?, condos?, hotel?, offices?) on the surface parking lot space, remodel the garage building to provide businesses facing the River Walk on the lower (and possibly 2nd) level, and keep the rest of garage to meet the requirements in their contract with owners of the Tower Life Building and most, if not all, of the parking space that would be needed for the building they put on the surface parking lot space.
Bill Badger says
I assume that the shared ownership of the garage was resolved before the sale.