The Pearl is poised to undergo its greatest expansion in years—and to leap, for the first time, across the San Antonio River—after the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) approved three projects at its Wednesday meeting. Among those is the conversion of the old Samuels Glass Co. building, which faces Newell Avenue, into a market with restaurants and a bar.
Silver Ventures, the developer behind the Pearl, also asked the HDRC for the go-ahead to build a seven-story apartment building occupying most of the block bounded by Park Avenue and Elmira, Schiller and Quincy streets.
The 263-unit structure, known as Elmira Apartments, will be the Pearl’s fourth apartment development and the second-largest after the 293-unit Can Plant Residences. The Pearl is also home to the 223-unit Southline Residences, which opened in fall 2019, and the 122-unit Cellars at Pearl luxury tower.
The Elmira will be the first component of the Pearl to be built west of the river, where Silver Ventures has owned land for more than a decade. The firm owns another 3.4 acres on that side, stretching along the entire bank between Newell Avenue and East Grayson Street, according to the Bexar Appraisal District.
The complex will consist of five stories with a wood-frame structure above a two-story concrete podium, all around a seven-level parking garage, according to the HDRC application. Its ground floor will feature a restaurant, a coffee shop and live-work units—in other words, residences that could also function as businesses.
Silver Ventures had objected to a recommendation from city staff that all of the tower’s windows be recessed at least two inches from the wall, out of concern that they had appeared too flat. After a discussion between the commissioners, during which it was pointed out that the Southline complex features similar windows, the commission voted 7-1 to approve the design without imposing that staff recommendation.
The commission also approved a proposal from Silver Ventures to convert the 1.4-acre, 50,800-square-foot Samuels Glass building into the Market at Pearl, a retail space that would feature four restaurants and a bar around an interior market. Silver Ventures purchased the building, which was constructed in 1948, in 2015, and Samuels Glass continued to operate there until 2017.
[ Related: Market at Pearl planned for former Samuels Glass Co. building | Nov. 1, 2021 ]
Silver Ventures plans to repair the building’s roof and exterior, and to remove part of the façade facing Karnes Street in order to create more space for an entrance and a covered terrace, according to its application. The “Samuels Glass Co.” sign atop the building will remain in place.
The commission approved the design on a vote of 6-1, with one abstention.
In a separate action, the commission approved Silver Ventures’ request to designate the Samuels Glass building a historic landmark, making it eligible for historic tax incentives.
On its consent agenda, the HDRC approved a proposal from Silver Ventures to build a bar and a restaurant with outdoor seating along the eastern side of the Pearl Stable, an oval-shaped brick building constructed in 1894. Both the bar and the restaurant would be small, one-story brick-and-stucco structures, according to renderings attached to the application.
The Stable functioned as a private event space until Silver Ventures closed it in July of last year, saying in a statement that it would “reimagine the next chapter of the Stable with the intention of reopening as a new concept in 2021.”
The renderings also show two “entry trellises”—steel trellises shaded with vines and marked with the words “Pearl Stable.”
“This project seeks to enhance the existing landscape area via the construction of two accessory buildings along with a variety of seating options,” Stephen Williams, an architect with Clayton Korte, wrote in the application.
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