Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the level of community pushback for this project.
A townhome project proposed for Government Hill has met resistance from some longtime residents who are worried their near East Side community is changing without their input.
The three-story buildings that comprise the Palmetto Town Homes are proposed for a 0.4-acre lot at 1945 N. Interstate 35. According to county records, the property is owned by Gilley Properties International of San Antonio and Anaxor Investments, a McAllen limited liability company.
The project was set for a Historic Design and Review Commission (HDRC) hearing on Wednesday, but it was postponed before the hearing started.
Some members of this community say the developers have not met with them.
“All we want is transparency,” resident Cindy Tower told the HDRC after learning the project was pulled from the agenda.
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Denise Gutierrez-Homer, who’s running for the District 2 City Council seat, also attended the meeting and said the project’s design, by JMS Architects of San Antonio, does not look like the other homes and structures in the neighborhood.
“We’re not asking them to stop development,” Homer said. ”We just want them to be more considerate of the amount of (space) and look of the development.”
JoAnne Murillo, another resident who attended the meeting, who who lives two houses away from the site, compared the Palmetto homes’ design to boxcars, in comparison to the “folk Victorian” homes in Government Hill.
The city’s Office of Historical Preservation (OHP) recommended that the HDRC deny approval of the Palmetto Town Homes, citing several issues with the conceptual design.
Mainly, some of the proposed structures in this development are too tall, OHP said.
New construction within historic neighborhoods, for example, must be within one story of nearby historic structures, according to the city’s historic design guidelines. Two of the Palmetto buildings are designed at 42 feet 6 inches tall, nearly four stories. Meanwhile, nearby historic structures are 1-2 stories tall, meaning the proposed near-four-story townhomes do not comply with the guidelines. The third building, at three stories, would comply.
Among OHP’s other concerns were that proposed construction materials for the project—metal siding and cement plaster, and the flat and shed roofs that would adorn the buildings. According to OHP, the buildings’ height would be significantly reduced if these materials were removed. OHP also recommended additional building entrances at North Palmetto and Gloucester streets, and the addition of porches to coincide with the other homes in the neighborhood.
In a phone interview, Carlos Mendonza of Gilley Properties International said the project was likely pulled from the HDRC agenda so that JMS Architects could make adjustments. Mendoza did not give estimates for the cost of the project. He also said the development team will decide whether to seek incentives from the city after the property goes to a hearing before the Zoning Commission on Feb. 21 to change the site plan from residential single-family to an infill development zone. The Zoning Commission rejected the case on Dec. 4, 2018.
During the interview, Mendoza described himself as one of the owners of the project.
JMS Architects nor Brown & Ortiz, the firm representing the developers, could not be reached for comment.