San Antonio: Council Resurrects Main Plaza Renovation Project
Feature Illustration (above): Rendering of the two historic Main Plaza buildings, as they would appear once restored. Courtesy: Ford, Powell & Carson.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — City Council entered into a development agreement today to proceed with the renovation and the restoration of two adjacent historic buildings owned by a private developer that are considered essential components of Main Plaza.
One year ago, the council put the project out to bid for the selection of a general contractor. The selection process, however, was delayed due to a lack of funds.
Lisa Wong, owner of the restaurants Rosario’s and Ácenar, owns 114 Main Plaza, which sits on the southeast corner of Main Plaza. Once the renovation is complete, Wong will operate a retail business at street level and rent apartment units on the second floor.
The two historic buildings share of Main Plaza. Image: Google Streets.
Last October, a Wong entity, 114 Main Plaza LLC, applied for funding from the Houston Street TIRZ, an urban redevelopment board controlled by the city. The request was for $1,132,912 and the Houston Street TIRZ board approved the request Dec. 18.
The historic structures were constructed circa 1870 and 1920 and have been vacant for several years. They require full exterior restorations, interior work for 2,036 square feet of retail; 2,109 square feet for two residential units; and 1,146 square feet for commercial and residents’ storage space in the basement level.
The project also activates underutilized areas around the buildings, including the small courtyard north of the buildings, the alley behind the buildings, and the landscaped area behind the alley. The improvements will upgrade the paving, lighting and the landscaping for pedestrians.
Council’s motivation is that the restorations will assist in reactivating a key element of the plaza. Wong’s total investment is $5.3 million, and $606,050 of the TIRZ funding is dedicated to restoration of the building façades.
VBX followed this development as Project ID 2019-1486.
With the funding now in place, Wong anticipates proceeding to construction this month and completing the two buildings by mid-summer 2021.
Concept rendering of a rooftop deck to be installed for the residential tenants. Courtesy: Ford, Powell & Carson.
Ford, Powell & Carson obtained final approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission for the designs in March 2019. The HDRC considered the following elements:
1. Rehabilitate the historic structure including the repair of missing sections of plaster cornice, repairing the plaster façade and sills, repair of the limestone masonry walls, repair of the damaged parapet caps and the installation of a new roof membrane and downspouts.
2. Replacement of the existing storefront windows.
3. Install a rear balcony at the second level.
4. The removal of paint and repair of the masonry façade, the removal of a non-historic garage door and infilling with masonry and the installation of a new roof membrane and downspouts.
5. Replacement of non-historic windows and doors with new windows and doors and the installation of windows in previously infilled openings.
6. Construct a rooftop terrace and a new elevator and fire stair addition.
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.