In two weeks, Hemisfair will host a public placemaking exercise for the third and final phase of the park and urban development—known as the Tower Park.
» When: 5:30-8 p.m. Monday, March 4
» Where: Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 006 (river level), 900 E. Market St.
» Register here.
Participants will offer input on the types of uses that should go into the 5.5-acre area around the Tower of the Americas. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. March 4 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 006 (river level), 900 E. Market St. Registration is required.
“We’ve had public meetings in the past at the framework and master plan levels,” Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar said. “This is the first specific time when we’re talking about Tower Park.”
Aside from the 5.5 acres of parkland within the Tower Park, there are also 10 acres of developable parcels, Andujar said, that surround the state-owned Institute of Texan Cultures and extend to east to U.S. 281.
Two properties—the John H. Wood, Jr. Federal Courthouse (built as the U.S. Pavilion for Hemisfair ’68) and the Adrian Spears Federal Judicial Training Center—will eventually be deeded to the city, in a land deal with the U.S. government that’s resulting in the new $117 million federal courthouse at 214 E. Nueva St. Construction is supposed to begin in early 2019.
Andujar said the city could decide to transfer the buildings to Hemisfair, but nothing is automatic. He also said the March 4 exercise won’t include the federal buildings, but if attendees have ideas for them, they’ll be recorded.
The Tower Park currently has no funding, except for $5 million from the 2017-2022 bond program that will be used to build Hemisfair Boulevard—a road that will connect other parts of Hemisfair to Montana Street and the U.S. 281 access road. Andujar said Hemisfair will request funds from the city’s next capital bond program in three or four years for Tower Park. Philanthropic dollars would be another source.
The plans do not include the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC), which is owned by the University of Texas System. Currently, the University of Texas at San Antonio, which oversees the ITC, is developing a master plan for all its properties that’s supposed to be finished in July.
“I imagine they are watching the Legislature, because their funding comes from the state,” Andujar said. “Depending on what the state does, it may affect how they respond to the Institute of Texan Cultures.”
What’s up with Civic Park?
The second phase of Hemisfair is the $58-$63 million Civic Park, which will consist of 9.6 acres of parkland framed by new development in the northwest quadrant of Hemisfair at the corner of Market and Alamo streets.
Construction of the Civic Park could begin in six months, Andujar said. Currently, an agreement between the city, Hemisfair and Zachry Hospitality, having to do with the 1,000-space underground parking garage, is being worked out. The City Council will have to approve the agreement before construction on the Civic Park can begin, Andujar said.
“Right now, it’s a real technical conversation about layout of the parking structure and the volume of spaces and the cost of underground parking,” Andujar said. “It’s all in motion.”
Zachry Hospitality is the master builder for the development at Civic Park, which will include a 200-room hotel, potentially more than 200 apartments, more than 100,000 square feet of office space, and more than 50,000 square feet of retail.
Zachry Hospitality and NRP Group, which was tapped to build the residential portion, have not reached a partnership agreement, Andujar said in a previous interview.
The plan is to have Civic Park completed in early 2022.
Civic Park is being funded by $21 million from the 2017-2022 bond program and $18.1 million in 20-year bonds that will be repaid using revenue from longterm ground leases from the Zachry Hospitality buildings. An estimated $20 million is coming from a Texas statute that allows public entities to receive rebates from the state on hotel occupancy (HOT) and sales taxes, provided a hotel (in this case, Grand Hyatt San Antonio) is developed within 1,000 feet of a convention center.
The rest will come from philanthropic sources, which the Hemisfair Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) organization separate from Hemisfair, is currently working on. The Conservancy’s capital campaign goal exceeds $16 million, which will be needed to keep Civic Park on schedule, Executive Director Anne Krause said in an email. The funds will also address the rehabilitation of historic structures in other parts of the park, the planting of 215 new trees, and future programming.
Krause noted that the funds the Conservancy raises will be used for these specific projects.
Any excess that isn’t used at Civic Park, that would come from the ground lease revenues or the state’s HOT and sales tax rebate, will be transferred to the Tower Park, Andujar said.
Krause said the Conservancy will announce when the first seven-figure gift is received.