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San Antonio: Downtown Historic Henry Terrell Building Coming Out of Limbo

Feature Photo (above): A January 2019 snapshot of the Henry Terrell Building, 212 N. Alamo St. Courtesy: Transwestern.

Posted: 2-21-2020

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) — The long vacant three-story Henry Terrell Building, a historic downtown structure erected in 1908, may soon be restored.

Located at 212 N. Alamo Street, the yellow brick building made news in 2013-2014 when it was acquired by a Las Vegas, Nevada company that proposed restoring the building and re-purposing it as a timeshare property and/or condominium midrise with 13 units. There unit sizes where to have ranged from 600 square feet for a single to 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom.

Timeshare Partners LLC was reportedly investing $1.2 million into the restoration and local architect Tim Cone was handling the project. Their designs were approved by the Historic and Design Review Commission in June 2014.

Over the next two years, Timeshare Partners had several contractors–Power Pro Electric, Riverside Plumbing Co. and others–in the building bringing it up to code.

Aerial view of the Henry Terrell 3-story building (center left). Image: Google Earth.

However, after 2016, activity ceased. In February, 2018, the developer was notified that their building permit had expired and a stop work order was entered. A year later, the Development Services Department considered the project “abandoned over 2 years without activity.”

Meanwhile, the property was already being listed for sale on or about January 2019 at $1,647,500. Transwestern brokers were marketing it as a completely modernized building shell with interiors ready for custom design; with potential uses including office, retail, hospitality or mixed-use.

VBX was recently informed that a new locally based general contractor with experience in historic building restorations has been hired and will be seeking to recruit certain trades in the near future.

Located two blocks north of the Alamo shrine, the Henry Terrell has a total interior area of 10,673 square feet. The ground floor occupies almost every square inch of the 0.425-acre lot the building stands on. Lake|Flato Architects own the adjacent lot, which borders the Henry Terrell on two sides.

Circa 1910s photo of the Henry Terrell Building. Courtesy: Transwestern.

In July 2019, a Texas limited liability company created the previous month took deed to the property. The limited liability company is a qualified opportunity zone business (QOZB). A QOZB provides federal tax breaks to the investor. The manager of record for this limited liability company is Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution (Clearinghouse CDFI), a Lake Forest, California-based lender that specializes in direct loans for affordable housing, community facilities, small businesses and commercial real estate.

Clearinghouse CDFI has a particular interest in working with Native Americans. Its lending territory is California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and “Sovereign Nations in the Western U.S.” However, Clearinghouse CDFI does not claim to do business in Texas, which makes this transaction an anomaly; the previous owner is a family trust in Nevada, though.

According to their annual report for 2018, Clearinghouse CDFI invested $65 million in high-poverty neighborhoods; $26.5 million in new markets tax credits; $8.3 million in Native American-owner enterprises, and created 30 homes for the homeless victims of human trafficking. One in three loans went to women and/or minority led organizations.

For much of the latter half of the 20th century, the First Baptist Church owned the Henry Terrell and ran its Community Ministries Center of San Antonio on the ground floor. From 1910-1915, it was home to the San Antonio YWCA. It was then converted into a hotel; from 1925-1950, it was known as the Majestic Hotel.

This is VBX Project ID 2020-1A53.