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San Antonio: Continental Hotel to be Part of a Downtown Apartment Complex

Feature Illustration (above): The Continental Hotel, looking west from West Commerce Street at San Pedro Creek. Image: Google Streets.

Posted: 6-17-2020

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) — The historic Continental Hotel building, most recently home to the city’s health department, will become part of a mixed income apartment complex in the center of downtown.

Weston Urban plans to redevelop the building at 322 W. Commerce Street and incorporate it into a larger development. Weston Urban owns that adjacent building to the south of the same block, the historic Arana Building.

The overall development will involve historic restorations of the two buildings and construction of a new building between them on a lot that has been used as surface parking.

The Continental will have commercial tenants at street level and some residential units above. However, most of the 274 units in total will be in a new 12-story tower behind the Continental. At least half of the housing will be reserved for tenants earning 80% of the area median income (AMI).

The project summary presented to City Council on June 4 notes however that the project is in the design phase and site constraints may alter the final development plan.

The agreement anticipates a total investment of at least $73 million in real and personal property improvements, but it requires there be a minimum development investment of $40.3 million, with at least 150 apartment units and at least half of these reserved for tenants making at or below 80% AMI.

Apartment units will wrap around three sides of a new parking structure that will hold about 432 vehicles; these include 68 public spaces available during daytime hours at market rate.

Aerial view of the city block assembled by Weston Urban, with estimation of the massing for a 12-story tower over what is currently a construction staging zone for the San Pedro Creek redevelopment. Graphics by Adolfo Pesquera.

These are all conditions Weston Urban agreed to during negotiations with the city. City Council’s June 4 action on the sale agreement had its genesis in a competitive Request for Proposals that was issued September 2019. See the VBX Sept. 17, 2019 article: San Antonio Puts Historic Continental Hotel Up For Grabs as Residential/Retail Development.

Weston Urban was the only firm to respond and the purchase price was $4.7 million.

Under the performance terms of the sale, Weston Urban shall begin construction by November 2021 and bring the project to completion by Nov. 30, 2023. Designs for the three structures are subject to approval by the Historic Design Review Commission.

The San Antonio River Authority, which is administering the redevelopment improvements to San Pedro Creek, has been using the parking lot as a staging area for its equipment. The agreement takes into consideration that could result in delay, and includes the following caveat:

“In no circumstances shall construction start any later than March 31, 2022, so long as the San Antonio River Authority has ceased all use of the Property and removed all equipment from the Property no later than December 15, 2020,” the contract states.

The three-story Continental Hotel was constructed in 1890 and it has an area of 39,634 square feet. The Arana was built in stages in 1920 and 1935 and has an area of about 37,253 square feet. The square footage of the new 12-story tower is not known.

Weston Urban is pursuing city fee waives valued at $161,000; San Antonio Water System fee waivers not to exceed $1 million; and a 15-year property tax rebate worth about $277,343. The project also qualifies for an Infrastructure Grant of $500,000.

This development is listed in the VBX database as Project ID 2015-152D.

The Arana Building looking west from Dolorosa at San Pedro Creek. The Continental Hotel can be seen in the background (right). Image: Google Streets.


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By |2020-06-17T13:06:17-06:00June 17th, 2020|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

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.

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