Fort Worth developer Vaquero Ventures received conceptual approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday on its envisioned 342-unit, five-story apartment building at 1220 E. Commerce St. in east downtown.
Vaquero Ventures does not own the property, but is under contract to purchase the 4.7 acres from Quadrant Investment Properties of Dallas.
The multi-family project would be built on land Quadrant Investment purchased in summer 2019 from the RK Group, on the southwest corner of East Commerce and South Cherry streets, on the other side of the tracks from The Espee, formerly known as Sunset Station, and St. Paul Square.
The land sits within walking distance of downtown, and also abuts East Side neighborhoods Alamodome Gardens and Dignowity Hill. It’s also two blocks west of Denver Heights. These neighborhoods have experienced rising property taxes in recent years as the area has become more popular.
Construction could begin this summer, said Brandon Behrens, vice president of development-multifamily division at Vaquero Ventures.
“With construction costs and the volatility of construction, I can’t confirm it,” said Behrens, who’s based in San Antonio. “But I’m hoping June or July.”
Behrens said he currently does not have a cost figure for the project.
Ashley Farrimond of Killen, Griffin & Farrimond, the local firm representing Vaquero Ventures, told commissioners that it’s too early to say whether the developer will seek incentives, either from the city, the San Antonio Housing Trust, or another governmental entity.
There is no retail planned for the development, which was dubbed Cherry X Commerce in documents submitted to the city. The ground floor would consist of apartments, a lobby and leasing office and fitness center.
The plans also show a fifth level composed of amenities such as a rooftop pool and lounge.
Merriman Anderson Architects of Dallas is the architect; the design still requires final approval from the HDRC at a future meeting.
In a recorded message, Valerie Cortez, who lives in Dignowity Hill, opposed the development’s height in relation to the neighborhood across the street, and questioned its affordability.
“A three-story structure, I believe, would blend in better in that specific location,” Cortez said. “Some concerns I have … How many of the 340 units will truly be affordable to the average blue collar worker? How many units will be ADA compliant and affordable?”
The project would add to a flurry of development activity in this area where the East Side begins to blend into downtown. Condo high-rise Vidorra and apartment mid-rise The Baldwin are two prominent housing developments that were built at St. Paul Square in the last 12 years. But the Vaquero Ventures project is unique in its proximity to East Side homes.
The development would also sit just north of the Alamodome, and down the street from The Espee, where a partnership between executives of Reata Real Estate and developer David Adelman is transforming the properties into an entertainment district—starting with a nightclub called 1902 inside the old Sunset Station Train Depot. Closer to downtown, the transformation of the Best Western Sunset Suites into the Aiden by Best Western will include a basement speakeasy.
[ Related: Best Western renovation in St. Paul Square signals confidence San Antonio’s hospitality sector will recover | Nov. 30, 2021 ]
Three blocks north on East Houston Street, the Texas Research and Technology Foundation is redeveloping the former Merchants Ice complex into an open development for the bioscience sector. The first tenant is the VelocityTX bioscience incubator.