The design for Jefferson Bank’s headquarters building, a 13-story limestone-glass office and parking structure proposed for the southwest corner of Broadway and East Grayson, was approved Wednesday by the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC).
The building, which will include four retail spaces, is designed by local architect Don B. McDonald, the same architect behind the Credit Human and Oxbow mid-rise buildings currently under construction a block south adjacent to the Pearl.
HDRC’s decision also means Still Golden Social House, a cocktail bar that occupies a 1918-commercial building on the corner of Broadway and Grayson, will be demolished. The property the building sits on, at 1900 Broadway, is the last piece left to be acquired to complete the headquarters’ footprint—a 1.8-acre square block bound by Broadway, East Josephine, North Alamo and East Grayson in the Government Hill neighborhood.
It’s unclear whether Still Golden will be incorporated into the new building. In interviews two weeks ago, Plack Carr, Milam Real Estate Capital’s managing director, and Jeret Peña, Still Golden’s owner, declined to comment on the bar’s future. Peña said at the time Still Golden has eight years left on its lease.
“We are in discussions with Still Golden, and we want them to be part of the project,” Carr said two weeks ago. “We are very much pro local businesses. Absolutely.”
Still Golden opened on Broadway in March 2018 after Peña and his group closed a similar bar, Stay Golden, after it was forced to move to make room for Credit Human’s headquarters.
Though McDonald has designed the Jefferson Bank and Credit Human/Oxbow projects for different clients, he has designed all three buildings almost identically. They each contain arched arcades with loggia columns facing the street.
Construction on Jefferson Bank’s headquarters is expected to begin second quarter 2020 and take approximately two years to complete, said Patrick Christian, a local land-use attorney who represents Milam Real Estate Capital. Carr has declined to give the project’s cost.
The bank is expected to use half of the new building—200 to 300 workers—and lease the remaining space to other tenants, Lindsay Armstrong, the bank’s senior vice president and director of marketing, told the Heron in a previous interview.
At the HDRC meeting, The Conservation Society of San Antonio opposed the demolition of the Stay Golden building, which first opened in 1918 as a Pierce-Fordyce gas station back when Broadway was known as River Avenue. Virginia Van Cleave, speaking for the conservation society, argued for saving the one-story structure, and said the application contained contradictory findings from the Office of Historic Preservation, the city office that assesses historical value of buildings, among other responsibilities.
“We further do not understand why the building cannot be incorporated into the planned building as it addresses the corner in a similar fashion to the new design and does not underpin the taller portion of the project,” Van Cleave said, reading a letter from society President Patti Zaiontz.
In response to a demolition request made in late October by Christensen, who also represents the current property’s owner, a New Mexico-based entity called OT Partners LLC, OHP had 30 days to assess the building’s historical significance. In that study, OHP determined the building was eligible for landmark status because it met four of the 16 criteria outlined in the city’s Unified Development Code (the minimum for landmark consideration is three criteria).
After a site visit, which OHP conducted in preparation of today’s HDRC meeting, it was determined that not enough of the original 1918 structure remained save for a brick wall, at the very least. What’s present now is the building’s transformation into a car dealership in 1944, which the conservation society said still merited saving.