The University of Texas at San Antonio is preparing to open a community resource center on the West Side, a walk-in-type space envisioned as an element of its downtown campus expansion.
A wide-range of services will be offered, including college admissions advising, adult education programs, small business support via the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, and arts and cultural programming.
The location hasn’t been announced. In an interview last week, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said the space will be leased from an existing building embedded in the Wets Side, separate from the downtown campus footprint, and will open in the fall.
“It’s really our attempt to realize our part of this, our important partnership (with the West Side), by making our institution more available,” Eighmy said.
Eighmy said the center is the result of conversations with West Side organizations and advocates, and elected officials, who have requested the university engage with the West Side.
In the next 10 years, UTSA plans to quadruple the size of its downtown campus, a massive multimillion dollar effort in which new buildings will be built east, on the other side of Interstate 35, and west, right up against the West Side community. The plan shows an elevated pedestrian park alongside the vehicular railroad bridge on Buena Vista Street that connects far west downtown with the neighborhoods. The park would include basketball courts, and other outdoor amenities, open to the public.
Some activists have expressed concern UTSA’s expansion could usher in the gentrification of the West Side. Amid those concerns, the city of San Antonio has asked UTSA to conduct an economic impact analysis as a condition of selling city-owned properties along Frio Street critical to the university’s expansion. The study by The National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders has already begun, Eighmy said.
He said the results of the study will help inform the programming at the community center and campus.
Eighmy said UTSA is also looking to open a similar resource center on the East Side.