By Ben Olivo | @rbolivo | Heron editor
Urban Genesis does not intend to waste time building on its three recently-acquired properties in Tobin Hill.
The Houston developer says it’s on schedule to start construction on its holdings on and off North St. Mary’s Street—overall, a $45 million series of developments for a total of 178 market-rate apartments—by first quarter 2023. The company expects construction to take up to 18 months, putting their completion in late 2024.
The projects are part of Urban Genesis’ Highline product—4-5-story, strictly infill housing developments. And Tobin Hill is the perfect place for them, said Matt Shafiezadeh, a principal with Urban Genesis
The neighborhood has “more of a unique cut of uses … a natural mixed-use rather than a manufactured one than the Broadway side will be,” Shafiezadeh said referring to the large-scale, mixed-use construction going up along the main thoroughfare east of these properties.
They’ll be known as the Pearl Highline series, or the Tobin Hill Highline series. And while they aren’t adding a large number of units compared to other envisioned projects in Tobin Hill—see developer Jake Harris’ plans for a 1,000-unit mixed-use project—they do add density, they build on three key empty parcels at prominent locations, and they contribute to the frenzy of development this area north of downtown is currently experiencing.
Here are Urban Genesis’ properties:
» St. Mary’s Highline, 63 units: Northeast corner of North St. Mary’s and Camden streets, two blocks south of Pearl, next to Armadillo Boulders and Man Overboard Brewing Company. Kitty-corner from the Museum Reach Lofts. Across the street from El Nogal Mexican restaurant.
» Elmira Highline, 61 units: Northwest corner of East Elmira and North St. Mary’s streets. Location of the former Alternative Clubs Inc., or ACI, private men’s bathhouse. Across the street from the Midtown Station retail center.
» SoJo Highline, 54 units: Between East Locust and West Grayson streets east of St. Mary’s. Behind Lonesome Rose bar. Next to Sojo Commons by local developer Steve Yndo. Roughly three block west of Pearl.
Shafiezadeh called his company’s interest in Tobin Hill a no-brainer given the success of the Pearl, its impact on Broadway, and the proximity to downtown.
Urban Genesis’ brand of housing product—strictly housing minus more common amenities found in large-scale mixed-use projects, and no retail—fits perfectly in Tobin Hill, because the nearby restaurants and locals-focussed businesses act as the amenities that residents can walk to.
“We think places like Tobin Hill shouldn’t be made for people and their cars,” Shafiezadeh said. “They should be made for people, designed for walkability, a 24/7 city. You can work in it. You can travel in it. You can live in it. We think Tobin Hill, Pearl, that northern downtown area has the makings of one of those special areas in Texas.”
On top of all that, he thinks the the St. Mary’s Strip, in particular, is a big part of the attraction.
“We really like the St. Mary’s Strip,” he said. “I think the northern strip has phenomenal activity and Tobin Hill is at the base of it. … That region along the Strip is special and it will continue to evolve.”
He said the public can expect the Pearl Highline to be a few hundred dollars less per month in rent than what people will find in traditional large-scale developments. Not spending money on amenities within the property, such as on a pool or fitness center, allows for lower rents.
” We spend out money inside the unit,” Shafiezadeh said
Shafiezadeh said his company has not pursued incentives from the city or county.
“Our product is designed to offer affordability without the support of municipalities,” he said.
Shafiezadeh said the company will continue to look for more land and development opportunities in Tobin Hill. He said Urban Genesis had bid on properties that were eventually promised to Harris’ multi-site project along East Josephine Street.
“When we make an investment, we work pretty hard to continue and invest in that neighborhood,” Shafiezadeh said.
“We are still very interested in the Tobin Hill neighborhood as well as pretty much anything above the (lock and) dam (on the Museum Reach at Brooklyn Avenue),” he said.
[ Heron: Houston developer Urban Genesis buys more land on North St. Mary’s in San Antonio | March 25, 2022 ]
[ Heron archive: Houston developer Urban Genesis adding 160 apartments around the St. Mary’s Strip | Sept. 15, 2021 ]
Heron Editor Ben Olivo has been writing about downtown San Antonio since 2008, first for mySA.com, then for the San Antonio Express-News. He co-founded the Heron in 2018, and can be reached at 210-421-3932 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @rbolivo on Twitter
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