Robert “Dick” Tips, owner of Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries, is pursuing the development of a mid-rise apartment and condo building near the Broadway corridor.
The project on the 600 block of North Alamo Street would rise at least 12 stories, and include 266 apartments on the lower levels, and 196 condos on the upper levels, with a rooftop restaurant, retail on the ground floor, an event center, and a 400-space, four-level subterranean parking garage.
The property is located in a pocket of downtown that has yet to see any new development, as opposed the opposite side of Broadway, which boasts the Museum Reach section of the San Antonio River.
The structure would consume 1.7 acres, and most of the square block bound by North Alamo, Brooklyn Avenue, Avenue E and 6th Street. The Alamo Funeral Chapel, which Tips purchased in the 1980s, sits on the property. Tips is moving the funeral home to a location just north of Loop 410.
Tips said he wanted to build something to leave for his 8-year-old twins.
“Our primary focus is the funeral business,” said Tips, who’s 66. “So we’re moving (the Alamo Funeral Chapel) to better serve the community. You end up with a piece of property, once you relocate. What are you going to do with that? Are you going to sell it to somebody. Or, let’s do something with it ourselves. Why not develop this piece of property?”
As for the timing, Tips described the project as being in its infancy stage—at least two years from construction beginning.
“We’re just coming out of the barn,” Tips said. “We haven’t even made it to the starting gate.”
Tips said because he owns the land, he expects rents and condo prices to be below what the downtown market is currently commanding.
“We think we can make this extremely affordable, because we own it,” Tips said. “It’s going to be very expensive (to build), no question about it. But if you start out no having debt on the land, that’s a big step … I just feel that since we’re starting with a piece of property that’s already owned, that we should be extremely competitive, if not better. That’s our hope.”
Many of the new apartments along the Broadway corridor, and in and around the Pearl area, command rents above $2 per square foot, and have become the most expensive in San Antonio.
Tips said ever since he started the rezoning process for the property, he’s been fielding phone calls from developers and investors interested in partnering with him.
“So far, we’re doing it all ourselves,” Tips said. Mission Park has its own construction division, which builds the company’s facilities throughout San Antonio.
“We’re very knowledgeable about construction,” said Tips, who also owns the Fairmont Hotel. “We’ve had a construction company for the last 50 years. We build for other people in our industry.”
Tips said he hasn’t explored government subsidies to help offset the cost of construction. Since the pandemic started, the city has reached agreements with developers on a case-by-case basis, a pivot from the as-of-right policy that automatically granted developers tax breaks, and other incentives, under the Center City Housing Incentive Policy.
Last week, the City Council rezoned the property from a “form-based zoning” designation, which is layered with restrictions, to a “downtown district” designation, which has no restrictions on building height.
During a recent Zoning Commission meeting, James Griffin, an attorney with Killen, Griffin & Farrimond, which represents Tips on the project, told commissioners there would be a hotel component, and that current historical structures on the property would be incorporated into the final design.