An updated architectural design for an ambitious 15-story mixed-use project by Weston Urban, on the site of the old Continental Hotel next to San Pedro Creek Culture Park, is due for a final review by the Historic and Design Review Commission in early August.
The latest renderings show a 15-story tower, which contains 255 mixed-income apartments, looming over the smaller Continental Hotel building facing West Commerce Street and the Arana Building facing Dolorosa—both historic structures. The development is truly mixed-use with apartments, “creative lofts,” retail, offices and some public parking.
Construction is expected to begin in early September, according to a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The filing is only for site work, which Weston Urban defines as the “frontage along Laredo and Dolorosa streets” at an estimated cost of $3.35 million, and not the construction of the new tower itself. Previous estimates put the project, both a combination of new construction and adaptive reuse, at roughly $80 million.
[ Archive: A closer look at Weston Urban’s 15-story mixed-use project in west downtown | July 18, 2021 ]
When construction begins, it will be the second significant downtown project by Weston Urban under construction: In March, the company, which is backed by local philanthropist and businessman Graham Weston, started construction nearby on its 354-unit, 32-story apartment tower called 300 Main. [ Development Profile: 300 Main ]
Combined, the two projects total 609 apartments and are both scheduled to be completed in mid-2024.
The unnamed development would include green space between the Continental Hotel building and San Pedro Creek Culture Park; and a fitness room, clubhouse and pool on the sixth floor.
The site contains the Continental Hotel (1896) and Arana Building (1926), as well as the Melchio de la Garza House (1800), which will stay on the site, and the O’Henry House (19th century), which will be moved to a location not-yet-announced.
Of the 255 units, 128 will be priced at market-rate, 102 reserved for people making up to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 25 for people making up to 60% AMI.
[ Scroll down for a chart showing AMI levels. ]
Weston Urban has partnered with the Bexar County Public Facility Corp., whose involvement means the project will not pay property taxes for 75 years. In 2020, the company also purchased the Continental Hotel from the city of San Antonio for $4.7 million.
Weston Urban President Randy Smith did not respond to an interview request for this update.
— Ben Olivo
Continental Hotel/Arana Building project
» Address: 332 W. Commerce St.
» Developer: Weston Urban (San Antonio)
» Property owner: Weston Urban (purchased from City of San Antonio)
» Type: Mixed-use (residential, retail, offices)
» New or reuse: Both; adaptive reuse of Continental Hotel (332 W. Commerce St., 1896), Arana Building (601 Dolorosa St., 1926), Melchio de la Garza House (100 S. Laredo St., 1800); O’Henry House (101 S. Laredo St., 19th century) to be relocated
» Status: Planning stage
» Height: 15 stories
» Land size: 1.86 acres
» Rent or buy: Rent
» Total units: 255
» Market rate: 128
» 80% AMI: 102
» 70% AMI: None
» 60% AMI: 25
» 50% AMI: None
» 40% AMI: None
» 30% AMI: None
» Student Units: None
» Section 8: Unknown
» Retail: Size unknown
» Office: Number unknown
» Hotel: N/A
» Parking: 5-story garage, 342 spaces
» Construction start date: Sept. 5, 2022
» End date: Aug. 16, 2024
» Architect: BKV Group (Dallas; new construction); Alamo Architects (San Antonio) and Post Oak Preservation Solutions (Houston)
» Cost: $80 million
» Investors: Unknown
» Financing: Unknown
» San Antonio Incentives: $1.66 million
» SAWS Fee Waivers: $1 million
» City Fee Waivers: $161,000
» City Loans: N/A
» Est. City Property Tax Rebate: N/A
» Tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ): $500,000 infrastructure grant (Houston Street TIRZ)
» Bexar County incentives: Full property tax exemption for 75-year lease via the Bexar County Public Facility Corp. (estimate unknown)
» Texas incentives: N/A
» Federal incentives: N/A
» Total public subsidy: $1.66 million (at least)
» Cashflow: Unknown
» Affordable housing fund contribution: N/A
July 21, 2021
Weston Urban’s plan to restore the former Continental Hotel and build a 15-story apartment tower along San Pedro Creek in west downtown won conceptual approval Wednesday from the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC).
The commission voted unanimously in favor of the $80 million project after commissioner Gabriel Q. Velazquez praised the “incredible creativity” shown by the development firm in its plan to rehabilitate the 18th-century Melchio de la Garza house and replace the surrounding parking lot with landscaping reflective of the historic period in which it was built. — Richard Webner
» Read more: Weston Urban’s 15-story apartment mid-rise behind Continental Hotel gets initial approval | July 22, 2021
June 15, 2021
Bexar County Commissioners approve a preliminary agreement with Weston Urban for the apartment development, with plans to set the terms for a final agreement later in the year.
A nonprofit arm of the county, called the Bexar County Public Facility Corp. (PFC), would partner with Weston Urban on a 250-unit mixed-income apartment project that would preserve at least the facade of the historic Continental Hotel (West Commerce Street) and Arana buildings (Dolorosa).
The roughly $80 million project would be the first developed by the Bexar County PFC. County Judge Nelson Wolff and the court’s four commissioners serve as the nonprofit’s board.
As is typical for PFC deals, the complex would receive a full property tax exemption for the duration of a 75-year lease. Weston Urban would pay the Bexar County PFC an annual rent of $150,000, and the PFC would receive 1% of the sales price each time the complex is sold. — Richard Webner
» Read more: Bexar County, Weston Urban to partner on apartments at Continental Hotel | June 19, 2021
June 4, 2020
The City Council unanimously voted June 4, 2020, to sell the former Continental Hotel property at 322 W. Commerce St. to Weston Urban, the San Antonio-based developer whose portfolio includes the Frost Tower and more than a dozen properties in west downtown. Construction on an apartment mid-rise on the property could potentially be for “future students, faculty, and staff” at University of Texas at San Antonio’s expansion on Dolorosa across the street south.
The purchase price for the four-story Continental Hotel and the adjacent parking lot, located a half-block west of City Hall, is $4.7 million.
Two years ago, Weston Urban purchased the abutting two-story Arana building and the O. Henry House Museum, which face the 600 block of Dolorosa; all structures including the Continental are bound by West Commerce, San Pedro Creek, Dolorosa and South Laredo. There are no plans yet for the O. Henry House, where American writer William Sydney Porter lived in 1885, said Weston Urban President Randy Smith.
Weston Urban intends to preserve and refurbish the Continental Hotel and Arana buildings, rather than eviscerate them leaving only the facade—a common practice in San Antonio. On the lot between the buildings, a new structure containing 274 apartments rising 8-12 stories will be built. At least half of the apartments will be reserved for people making 80% of area median income, which is $72,000 for a family of four according to preliminary 2020 federal estimates.
“I think it would scale real well with the (Bexar County) buildings, with the Vistana,” Smith said last week. “I do not view that as a high-rise site.”
Last year, the city started the process of finding a buyer for the Continental Hotel building, which has been owned by the city for many years. The late-19th century building last housed the Metropolitan Health District offices until 2016. The campus expansion is expected to add more than 3,000 faculty, staff, and students to the area by 2028.
The development also includes a parking garage with 432 spaces—68 of which will be available to the public during the day.
Construction is expected to begin November 2021, and be finished two years later.
Aside from UTSA’s growth just south, there are plans north of the site to renovate old commercial buildings into a collective retail and restaurant hotspot—the San Pedro Creek project flowing alongside all of it—lead by James Lifshutz’ redevelopment of the Kline’s building.
Proceeds from the Continental Hotel sale will be deposited into the City Tower fund, which supports the city’s renovation of the old Frost Tower at 100 W. Houston St., Kelly Saunders, spokesperson for the Center City Development and Operations (CCDO), said via email.
For the Continental Hotel and Arana project, the city is recommending Weston Urban receive $161,000 in city fee waivers, $1 million SAWS impact fee waiver, and $500,000 in an infrastructure grant from the Houston Street and Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. Under the Center City Housing Incentive Policy, the project is also eligible for a city property tax rebate for 15 years, the estimated value of which was not provided by the city.
However, Smith said Weston Urban may partner with a public facility corporation, government-created nonprofits, which would exempt the project from paying any property taxes.
The city also anticipates to receive $18,500 a year in sales taxes from the retail portion of the project.
Correction: A previous version of this update implied the apartments for the upcoming project would be built for UTSA faculty and staff. Anyone can eventually live there. Also, the article erroneously stated a condition of the sale.
— Ben Olivo & Benjamin Gonzalez
The City of San Antonio issues a request for proposals for a developer to build apartments at the Continental Hotel site. Weston Urban is the only respondent, and was awarded the sale. » Read more: “Former Continental Hotel to become mixed-income apartments”
The City of San Antonio moves Metropolitan Health District from the old Continental Hotel building.
2022 Area Median Income
|1 person||2 person||3 person||4 person||5 person||6 person|
|Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development|
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I thought another source stated that this project is 16 stories now. Let us know!
Ben Olivo says
I saw that, too. We’ll double check and correct if need be.
Stella De La Garza says
Where can I find plans for rehabilitating the De La Garza historic home?