San Antonio: GrayStreet Partners Gets Concept OK on Hotel-Office Tower
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) – GrayStreet Partners obtained conceptual approval on its architectural designs for a 20-story office/hotel tower the developer proposes to build at the northwest corner of Broadway and Newell Avenue.
The Historic and Design Review Commission indicated it would decline to give its approval at a March 21 hearing and GrayStreet withdrew its request. The commissioners changed their stance Wednesday after considering the revisions presented by Gensler, the project architect.
The tower will feature ground floor retail, two levels of underground parking, three levels of above ground parking that will be wrapped by other elements. The floor plans include four stories of office space above the garage, two levels of amenity space separating the office functions from the hotel, and eight levels of hospitality space. The 20th floor is an enclosed mechanical penthouse.
At the March hearing, the commissioners raised concerns about renderings that were not consistent. Early drafts showed a 17-story tower, not a 20-story. They also commented on a lack of human scale and the building’s affect on traffic.
The 1603 Broadway tower will include below ground and above ground parking, office space in the mid-level floors, and a hotel with amenity floors in the upper levels. Courtesy of GrayStreet Partners.
The HDRC’s Design Review Committee revisited the project April 10 and came away with a more favorable view. Comments included a conclusion that the “presentation is much improved” and “overall massing and materials are appropriate,” and “design in excellent–additional work is impressive.”
There were still some concerns about height; it will be the tallest building along that sector of the Broadway Corridor, a main gateway into downtown.
GrayStreet’s revissions provide a larger pedestrian space with more landscaping and bicycle path access. The building facade is more varied as it rises and steps back. Among the many effects is a sense that it is a smaller building when viewed from Broadway, because of the way the upper portion of the tower is recessed.
In its narrative to the HDRC, GrayStreet said, “The building is a combination of iron-spot brick, metal panel and glazing at the office levels, an articulated glass curtain wall with mullion extensions at the hotel guestroom floors and capped by an inset perforated metal mechanical screen.
“Floor-to-floor heights for the retail ground floor are 18 feet, as well as 18 feet for the office floors. The hotel guestroom floors are 10 feet.
As seen from a pedestrian on Broadway, the building appears smaller because of the recessed design of the upper floors. Courtesy of GrayStreet Partners.
“A 15-foot setback on the ground floor facing Broadway creates a colonnade which expands the sidewalk, crates a sense of scale for the building, and allows for program and pedestrian activity to spill into this covered space. Along the Newell facade, the existing bike path is incorporated into a parklet, a lush and varied landscape that occupies the pedestrian realm at street level, helping connect the pedestrian experience to the adjacent district.
“The building’s massing assumes a lower profile along the Broadway corridor, creating a human scale street section enlivened by ground floor programming and occupiable balconies. Where additional height is needed for the program, it is set back from the street face and clad in a simpler metal and glass facade so as to recede from the lower brick volume.
Perspective of the tower from the bike path in front of the hotel lobby, and from Avenue B at Pearl Parkway. Courtesy of GrayStreet Partners.
“An amenity deck and outdoor terraces and pool activate the building’s setbacks and roof areas.
“Access to the building garage will be from Broadway with service and delivery access from the service alley.”
The Board of Adjustment has purview over the building height and will consider the height request at its May 21 meeting. In addition, GrayStreet must returned to the HDRC for final approval once the design documents are near completion.
Illustration of the Office lobby entrance as viewed from Broadway. Courtesy of GrayStreet Partners.
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.