San Antonio: Austin Developer Arranges Lease with Downtown Church for 8-Story Multifamily/Retail Project
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — An Austin-based developer will be going to the Historic and Design Review Commission for conceptual approval Wednesday on an eight-story apartment building with parking structure.
Mark Odom Studio, a San Antonio architectural firm, is representing Weal Development of Austin on a project that is being proposed on what is presently a surface parking lot owned by St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church complex is located across South Presa Street from the parking lot.
Weal Development claims on its website that the project is predicated on a 99-year ground lease with St. John’s Lutheran. The residential building is being named St. John’s Square, 422 E. Nueva Street.
St. John’s Square will be located on a surface parking lot owned by St. John’s Lutheran, immediately west of the church. Courtesy: Mark Odom Studio.
Mari Michael Glassel, studio director with Mark Odom, is project representative to the HDRC.
Mark Odom chose to mimic two iconic San Antonio buildings for its design–the former Joske’s department store building and the Crockett Hotel, both located by Alamo Plaza. Like them, the building’s most prominent feature will be a rounded corner façade at St. Mary’s and Nueva where the retail tenants will be placed.
A project summary submitted by Mark Odom states the land area footprint for this building is more than 1.3 acres. It will have approximately 250 units, although the floor plans submitted suggest it could have as many as 259 units.
The units will wrap around a parking structure on all sides and access to the garage will be from South St. Mary’s Street. The structure is cater-corner to the south end of the La Villita complex, but The Barrera Firm is maintaining ownership of a small office building at the southwest corner of Nueva and Presa, so apartment building ground floor had to be configured away from the corner.
Concept sketch of the ground floor site plan with landscaping. Courtesy: Mark Odom Studio.
Mark Odom’s Summary:
The project would be Type II Construction with podium that wraps around a precast concrete 8-level public and private parking garage. Conceptually, this project aims to nod to it’s historic surroundings on the outside while finding elements of contemporary surprise as patrons move inside the building. These surprises are defined with pops of color, tactile elements, and well defined common spaces sprinkled throughout the building.
The project was inspired by the consistent “base, body, cap” striations seen across downtown San Antonio. This horizontal focus is further defined by a gradient of textures moving up the building, as well as subtle setbacks at each level. Being such a primary focal point along the St. Mary’s Street and Nueva Street views from downtown, the design of the project aims to elegantly anchor the streetscape formally, while also adding new life to this critical intersection.
The project offers 4 different scales of street and community building activity:
Retail and Restaurant at ground floor
Walk-up “brownstone” Units at ground floor
Studio units with “back patios”
Community spaces on each level
As is often the case with urban multifamily buildings, there is a retail component. Two tenant spaces are being reserved at the corner of South St. Mary’s and Nueva Streets.
Looking south from the convergence of South St. Mary’s Street and Navarro Street, the project site as it is today can seen below a rendering of the same point of view with the apartment building. Courtesy: Google Streets and Mark Odom Studio.
A Development Services staff report to the HDRC notes that their Design Review Committee discussed the project at a Feb. 26 meeting.
“At that meeting, committee members asked questions regarding the proposed materials, noted that the proposed scale was appropriate, that blank façade panels should be articulated, that the proposed canopies are appropriate and that the relationship of building masses should be further explained,” according to the staff summation.
The width of sidewalks are not mentioned in the report, nor are they notated on the ground site plan, but there are sidewalks and plans for the installation of a curb trees on all side, include a new alley that will separate the south end of the building from the Springhill Suites by Marriott.
Mark Odom is also proposing outdoor seating and a canopy at street level, but the scale of the canopy system was not described.
Most of the units will be one-bedrooms, and units along the Presa Street side will have balconies. The units facing the alley will be studios. Above-ground floors will have three two-bedroom units each, with the units being configured as corner units.
A perspective of the Nueva Street side of St. John’s Square, looking west. Courtesy: Mark Odom Studio.
An Express-News report claims Weal secured $3.2 million worth of incentives, fee waivers and loans from the city, and is collaborating with the San Antonio Housing Authority on tax-exempt and housing tax credit financing.
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.