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  • West elevation of Drossaert Hall

San Antonio HDRC Takes Another Look at St. John’s Seminary, Main Plaza Hotel


Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

Posted: 8-16-2016

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar Co.) – The Historic and Design Review Commission will be considering several major constructions projects Wednesday, including final approval of designs for the redevelopment of St. John’s Seminary near Mission Concepcion.

Other noteworth projects include the conceptual approval of a downtown hotel tower next to San Fernando Cathedral, final approval of designs for the Hilton Canopy Hotel tower on the Riverwalk at St. Mary’s Street, a Certificate of Appropriateness to commence construction of a new air traffic control tower at Stinson Municipal Airport, and the demolition of a large warehouse in the SoFlo District, an area that has been experiencing steady urban redevelopment.

St. John’s Apartments

Most of these projects have been previously described in Virtual Builders Exchange (links included above where available), and are expected to pass with little discussion. Significant changes were made, however, to the St. John’s Seminary project by 210 Development Group.

The developer had initially proposed peak building elevations of 3 ½ stories, but these were not in line with new standards put in effect because of the World Heritage designation of the San Antonio Missions. Residents also organized effective opposition to the scale of the project.

New construction heights will be limited to two stories.

The developer proposes demolition of eight buildings, restoration of St. Mary’s Hall, Drossaert Hall and Margil Hall, and construction of seven multifamily buildings and land that is owned by the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

The seminary campus opened in 1920 with the construction of Drossaert Hall—the main, 3-story building. Margil Hall was added in 1935 and St. Mary’s Hall was constructed in 1949.

June 17, 2015, the HDRC granted conceptual approval with the stipulations that 210DG incorporate additional materials such as brick and cast stone in order to more appropriately complement the surrounding structures; that 210DG incorporate additional architectural details; and that 210DG incorporate contemporary architectural details.

The existing contributing structures feature both one and multiple story structures.

For the new construction, 210DG proposes a series of mostly two-story structures designed by B&A Architects that vary in height at various locations. The applicant has proposed for each structure to feature height transitions as well as similar floor heights as the existing, contributing structures.

100 North Main Avenue

REM Hospitality, the developer of the proposed mixed-use tower just north of the cathedral at Main Plaza, was refused conceptual approval during its first visit, July 5, to the HDRC Commission because the designs submitted were insufficient to make a determination.

Randy Kelly of JRK Design, is back with renderings the give more context to the 236-foot-high, 18-story building. The concept includes restaurant and deli tenants on the first and second floors, with a hotel lobby on the second floor that will serves guests that will be accommodated on floors eight to 17. The third to seventh floors will be reserved for professional office tenants.

The project site was formerly home to the Wolfson Building that was destroyed in a 2011 fire. Based on HDRC and staff comments, Kelly made the following clarifications, according to the staff report:

The new construction will feature a series of overhangs and balconies on the southern façade facing Main Plaza.

At street level on East Commerce, there will be an outdoor dining and patio space. Seating will be buffered from the public right of way by landscaping elements.

All mechanical equipment will be on the roof and screened by a parapet wall.

To comply with a mandate for a “human scale,” JRK Design proposes individually scaled curtain wall systems and sun shade systems on each level on the south and southwestern facades. Also, the tower is in context with structures in the immediate vicinity.

Exterior materials include glass curtain wall systems, cement wall panels and stone cladding. The façade includes a mid-section featuring window openings arranged for individual room uses.

There will be parking for about 10 vehicles on the street for valet purposes.

1334 South Flores Street

Land use attorney Ken Brown of Brown & Ortiz will represent property owner Schuepbach Properties LLC on the request for conceptual approval of demolition with new construction at 1334 S. Flores St.

This is a 46,000-square-foot warehouse, formerly the Smith Bros. Distribution Company, designated at a historic landmark in 1988. Office of Historic Preservation comments that the warehouse “reflects mid-century industrial style, with a corrugated metal gable front over a recessed entry. The glass paneled storefront has been modified from the original design, which would have been flush with the narrow brick accent walls underneath the flat metal canopy.”

Based on the age of the building, OHP was of the opinion the historic designation was intended for the older buildings to the rear of this one, but requested more documentation. The warehouse is on a 1.5-acre tract.

“The applicant has noted that the demolition of the current structure would allow for a development that is more appropriate for downtown and that is consistent with the goals of SA 2020. Furthermore, the applicant has noted that the current structure features neither architecturally significant features nor significance to the warehouse’s founding, design, construction or history,” OHP stated.

Schuepbach hasn’t tried to sell the property, but notes that many structures in the immediate vicinity no longer have an industrial purpose. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Schuepbach wants to build a 294-unit apartment community with 25,000 square feet of retail and office space on five acres (the additional 3.5 acres is under contract from NRP Group. Plans are to start construction the third quarter of 2017.

Numerous buildings along this section of Flores, and around the corner on Cevallos Street have either been converted from business uses to condos and apartments. And others have been razed to have midrise residential developments take their place.

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adolfo@virtualbx.com

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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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