San Antonio: Artista Hotel Clears Technical Reviews, Awaiting C-of-A on Final Designs
Feature Illustration (above): Preliminary 3D perspective viewing from East Travis Street. Courtesy: CREOarc.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — Architects on the Artista Hotel, an eight-story hotel located along the San Antonio River Walk, are nearing completion of the final designs.
This project was first announced in May 2019 when Harris Bay LLC acquired the project from Seaside Hospitality Corporation, a Key West, Florida company that had planned a very similar project.
Seaside Hospitality was going for a seven-story boutique hotel and obtained conceptual approval in April 2017 from the Historic and Design Review Commission. Their architect was Ford, Powell & Carson.
Seaside Hospitality was able to demolish a strip of one-story commercial buildings on the site, 151 E. Travis Street, but it has since remained vacant.
The deed was transferred April 29, 2019 to IconicOZ Artista Fund LLC for $2,166,180, according to Bexar County Clerk property records. This was for an undeveloped two-tenths of an acre between Travis and the San Antonio River.
IconicOZ Artista is a federal opportunity zone fund created by Harris Bay to take advantage of a tax break. Anton Bayer, Harris Bay’s managing partner, assigned property rights to the limited liability corporation.
On June 5, 2019, the HDRC granted conceptual approval for the eight-story structure as described–new construction featuring 112 guest rooms and retail spaces at the street and river levels.
The architect described the project as being “designed to be highly representative of the local arts and culture of San Antonio. More than just a hotel, it is a place visitors and locals experience total immersion in the social, artistic and cultural scene that only San Antonio can offer.”
Preliminary illustration of the north elevation for Artista Hotel. Courtesy: CREOarc.
On Dec. 18, 2019, the architect, Kris Feldmann of CREO Architecture, and land use attorney Patrick Christensen returned to the HDRC in an attempt to get permission to encroach into the San Antonio River Walk right of way by 3 feet-11 inches. The encroachment was for an overhang of the second floor, about 24 feet above the River Walk pedestrian path.
Citing development code guidelines, city staff opposed the request and the HDRC aligned itself with the staff position on a majority vote to deny.
The architect must return to the HDRC to request a Certificate of Appropriateness of the final design.
At Development Services, the project went through the technical reviews in 2019. As of late January 2020, the project was undergoing final review, with a few components (engineering streets, GIS, stormwater) approved.
VBX Project ID 2020-1ABC.
East elevation, preliminary concept, of the Artista Hotel. Courtesy: CREOarc.
Staff stipulations for concept approval:
The applicant shall explore ways to reduce the impact or eliminate the cantilever over the River Walk area.
Fenestration and other façade separating elements will be added to the south and east facades.
All mechanical and service equipment will be screened from view at the public right of way.
A detailed landscaping shall plan be submitted when returning for final approval.
The applicant shall install dark colored windows that feature metal materials that are recessed at least two inches within facades.
The applicant shall submit a master signage plan for review and approval by the HDRC that includes both building and tenant signage, and that the proposed vertical “Artista” sign be eliminated.
The applicant has proposed outdoor seating areas. No outdoor furniture may impede upon the public right of way at the River Walk or street levels.
A detailed lighting plan will be submitted for review and approval when returning for final approval.
Archaeological investigations shall be required. A review of historic archival documents identifies structures within, or in close proximity to, the property as early as 1873. In addition, the project area is in close proximity to previously recorded archaeological sites 41BX1369 and 41BX1370. Thus, the property may contain sites, some of which may be significant. The archaeological scope of work should be submitted to the Office of Historic Preservation archaeologists for review and approval prior to beginning the archaeological investigation. The project shall comply with all federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations regarding archaeology.
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.