San Antonio: 23-Acre Apartment Development Proposed Near Mission San Juan Capistrano
Feature Photo: Southeast San Antonio near the San Antonio River at Loop 410. The land under contract is highlighted as light yellow-green in the foreground. Image: Google Earth/VBX Graphic.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — An Austin-based housing developer is proposing to construct a garden style apartment community on more than 23 acres that is near Mission San Juan Capistrano.
The land, which is under contract, includes several hundred yards of the San Juan Acequia–a colonial irrigation system that watered farmland east of the San Antonio River from the 1700s to the 1920s.
Members of the Villa Coronado Neighborhood Association spoke against a request to amend the land use from Low Density Residential and Open Space to High Density Residential, at a Wednesday Planning Commission hearing. The public hearing was continued to Sept. 22 to give the developer more time to speak with residents and neighboring institutions.
Planning Commission Chair Connie Gonzalez, who is also an executive at Brooks Development Authority, advised the developer to explain his intentions with neighbors and officials at Brooks, the San Antonio Independent School District, the World Heritage Office and Stinson Municipal Airport.
The property is located in the 9400 block of Southeast Loop 410, on and east of the San Juan Acequia. Jose Gallegos, the agent for the landowner, said he is an insurance broker who sold the land north of the tract under contract to San Antonio ISD for a future school campus; the property now owned by the school district has frontage to South Presa Street.
With the sale of the north tract to SAISD, the only viable vehicular access to the property under consideration would by via the westbound lanes of the Southeast Loop 410 Access Road. The nearest turnaround would be onto Villamain Road.
Brady Alexander, spokesman for the neighborhood association, said they were vehemently opposed to a development that could bring 760 apartments, but acknowledged that they knew nothing about the project other than that the sale is contingent on acquiring MF-33 zoning. There is a related zoning case that is to be heard Sept. 21 for a change to multifamily use at 33 units per acre.
However, much of the land is in a floodplain because of the acequia. It is often the case that developers do not reach the maximum density that an MF-33 designation implies.
Development Services Department staff recommended approval, claiming High Density Residential to be a compatible transition from the single-family residential to the east and given the fact that the property has frontage to an expressway.
A project of this scale at this location would have been unlikely a few years ago, but Brooks has proven there is a market for new apartment housing in southeast San Antonio, and the region is attracting new manufacturing and the expansion of educational institutions.
David Abrahams, the real estate agent for the buyer, said the developer is Jim Young, founder-manager of Sabot Development Ltd. Abrahams said Young’s team is constructing the multi-story, market rate apartment/retail development Elmira at Myrtle that is located near Hotel Emma and the Pearl.
“They’re bringing that quality to the South Side, so this is going to be something that’s going to improve and increase and also fall in nicely in line the potential for that southern Mission flavor,” Abrahams said.
The concept is to create a medium to high-end, garden-style apartment complex of three and four-story buildings with walking trails that would connect to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park system via the acequia.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) 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.