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UT System Issues RFP for Institute of Texan Cultures at Hemisfair Park

06/13/2017 12:21:00 pm | Viewed: 889

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange


The north side of the Institute of Texas Cultures building at Hemisfair Park.


Posted: 6-13-2017, 2:55 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) - The University of Texas System is ready to receive proposals for the redevelopment of the 14.7-acres occupied by the Institute of Texan Cultures at Hemisfair Park, and is prepared to relocate the museum.

A Request for Proposals issued Friday (June 9) is the next step in a process that began May 2016 when the UT System solicited developers and architects in a Request for Qualifications. At least 18 firms responded (see the original VBX report).

The UT System delegated administration of the redevelopment process to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Since the RFQ was issued last year, the university has made numerous revisions relating to its expectations about what should happen to the property. The scope of development in the new RFP is more flexible than what was previously described.

In its original concept, the UT System described three types of possible development:

  • Grounds Development Only--Respondents may propose developing and utilizing the property surrounding the existing ITC building. This option includes developing and utilizing up to 12.63 acres, while allowing for at least 147 (preferably 200) vehicle parking spaces, 10 bus parking spaces, and unimpeded access for ITC visitors, buses, and deliveries to support ITC’s mission.
  • Grounds and Partial ITC Facility--Respondents may propose developing and utilizing the property surrounding the existing ITC building as described above and develop and utilize an additional 30,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. inside the existing ITC building in a manner that supports and complements ITC’s mission
  • Full Tract Development--Respondents may propose developing and utilizing the entire Tract (up to 14.7 acres), subject to the conditions.

In the event that a developer were to go with Full Tract Development, the university had expected reimbursement for the cost of relocating the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) to a new facility. Any involvement by a developer in the fate of the ITC is now optional.

The university has also recognized the success of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation and directs developers to the HPARC Framework and Master Plan, with directions that redevelopment of the property complement the HPARC Master Plan. That master plan suggested a neighborhood park in the center of what is now the ITC grounds, and it would be surrounded by high density residential with some retail. The 14.7-acre site would also be broken up with the introduction of a new street grid.



The land use mix in the Hemisfair Park Master Plan suggests the ITC site be primarily residential around a park, and there would be a new street grid connecting the lower east quadrant to the surrounding area.


The university intends to establish a Ground Lease contract with an experienced party to develop the property "for the purpose of certain commercial and residential uses."

Objectives of the RFP should include the identification of possible uses that serve the needs and requirements of the university, "including maximizing rental income, the long term success of the development, and compatibility of development and redevelopment within the Hemisfair District and the greater downtown San Antonio community."

Respondents may include, as part of the redevelopment, about 40,000 square feet of museum/exhibition space to be leased to the ITC. However, the university did emphasize any potential lease was optional. In the 2016 RFQ, the university was asking for a "minimum" of 125,000 square feet to house the ITC's operations somewhere.

The ITC grounds have been home to the Texas Folklife Festival for 45 years, and to the Asian Festival for 31 years. But it appears that university is resigned to finding a new home. 

"The University anticipates that it will fully vacate the property no later than 240 days after the execution of the lease," the RFP states.

The three-story ITC building was constructed in 1967-68 to be the home of the Texas Pavilion for the 1968 world's fair. The building has a total of 182,247 gross square feet, and although architecturally significant it has some major liabilities.

The building was constructed above a natural spring. To avoid flooding, pumps have been operating in the basement since before it opened 50 years ago, and maintaining those pumps has been a challenge over the decades. The lagoon and fountain at the entrance exists in part to help divert the springwater.

Interested developers have until August 2 to submit their proposals. The university is requiring that the proposal remain valid until February 28, 2018.





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Zoom Related Images
The Hemisfair Park master plan. The Institute of Texan Cultures grounds (lower right) would be primarily residential with some retail around a small park.

Author Info
Adolfo Pesquera

Adolfo Pesquera is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.