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San Antonio: HDRC to Consider Four Downtown Hotel and Retail Projects

Feature Illustration (above): Birdseye view of the Aztec Theater with additions. Courtesy: Overland Partners.

UPDATE: 6-6-2019 || Harris Bay obtained conceptual approval on its designs for an 8-story hotel at 151 E. Travis Street. The commission has some concerns about the cantilever overhang on the River Walk side of the building; staff recommended eliminating the overhang, which extends up to 5 feet beyond the property line. The architect, Kris Feldman, argued successfully that the overhang provides some shade on the River Walk, and with its height being almost 24 feet above it is not objectionably imposing to pedestrians.

Consideration of the Aztec Theater design was postponed due to a commissioner’s recusal creating a lack of quorum.

Winston Hotels LLC, the Raleigh, North Carolina developer acquiring the 111 Soledad Street towers from Primera Partners, received its conceptual design approval without discussion. The same occurred for WestonUrban and their application on  107 N. Flores Street.

Architect Kris Feldman of CREO addresses the Historic and Design Review Commission. Photo by Adolfo Pesquera.

Originally Posted: 6-3-2019

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) — The Historic Design and Review Commission will consider on Wednesday plans on four downtown projects, three of which are major renovations and one involving the construction of a new boutique hotel.

Two of the projects are making their first appearance with requests for conceptual approval and two are returning to acquire Certificates of Appropriateness in order to proceed to the building permit process.

The concept approval cases include:

  • 111 Soledad Street: a 14- and 20-story office complex that is being converted into two separate hotels.
  • 151 E. Travis Street: a vacant lot by the San Antonio River where Harris Bay LLC wants to construct an eight-story boutique hotel.

The Certificate of Appropriateness cases include:

  • 104 N. St. Mary’s Street: a rooftop addition and overlook terrace to the historic Aztec Theater building.
  • 107 N. Flores Street: a restoration project for a historic two-story building that was constructed in 1915.

The 107 N. Flores and 111 Soledad projects are listed on the “consent” agenda. Unless that changes at the meeting, they will be approved without discussion. The other two projects are listed for “individual consideration.”

Projects in Detail:

111 Soledad towers. Courtesy: Campo Architects.

111 Soledad Street is a combination 14- and 20-story tower with about 248,000 square feet of space. Until recently, 116,000 square feet was being leased by the City of San Antonio.

At the time that San Antonio was considering acquiring the old Frost Bank tower, Primera Partners made an alternative offer to sell the building.

The city opted instead to acquire the original Frost Bank tower. The city planned to consolidate its staff from several downtown locations into the tower. One of the consequences was Primera having to reconsider the fate of 111 Soledad.

According to plans submitted to the HDRC, Riverview Tower Partners Ltd., a Primera holding, proposes to make modifications to the exterior as part of a complete renovation that will make the building a “dual hotel” facility with some office space.

Exterior modifications include construction of a rooftop bar at the 14th and 15th levels of the shorter tower. This includes a new canopy and trellis structure.

Courtesy: Campo Architects.

The owner also wants to modify the Soledad Street side façade, the street level façades on Soledad and Commerce Street with new entrances and entrance canopies; modify the west façade to feature additional fenestration and two columns of windows on the upper 14 levels of a north facing section of the west façade; modify the sidewalk to accommodate valet parking service; install new exterior lighting and 10 signs for a total of 455 square feet.

Campo Architects prepared the designs.

Concept illustration of The Artista at River Walk level. Courtesy: CREO.

151 E. Travis Street is a Harris Bay acquisition made under the name IconicOZ Artista Fund LLC. The seller was Seaside Hospitality Corp. of Key West, Florida. Seaside had planned a boutique hotel for this location but never followed through. This project was previously described in a May 23rd VBX post.

Harris Bay is planning to complete the project at The Artista Hotel, but their concept is substantially different from the original.

The proposed new structure is planned at 69,000 square feet in eight stories and will have 112 guest rooms, and retail space at the street and river levels. This is on a 0.2-acre triangular tract with an 8,878-square-foot footprint.

Elevation sketch of The Artista as seen from across the San Antonio River. Courtesy: CREO.

Kris Feldman of Creo Architecture is the designer and representative on the conceptual approval application.

The building has a cantilever feature on the street and River Walk levels. Staff is opposed to the cantilever on the river side. Creo is proposing no fenestration, just brick or stucco cladding, and staff is also opposed to the lack of fenestration.

Feldman’s project description also states, “The Artista Hotel has been designed to be highly representative of the local arts and culture of San Antonio. More than just a hotel, it is a place (where) visitors and locals experience total immersion in the social, artistic and cultural scene that only San Antonio can offer.”

Floor plans of the different levels of The Artista. Courtesy: CREO.

The hotel will not have parking and a sidewalk reduction is planned to provide valet service for off-site parking.

A new pedestrian access point will be constructed from the River Walk into the property.

A detailed landscape plan and signage master plan were not submitted, but must be filed prior to issuance of the C-of-A.

Street level view of the Aztec Theater with the S. St. Mary’s Street and Crockett Street intersection in the foreground. Courtesy: Overland Partners.

104 N. St. Mary’s Street:  It’s been 18 months since Overland Partners obtained conceptual approval for a proposed rooftop addition and a terrace connecting to the River Walk to the famed Aztec Theater. See VBX story of Jan. 18, 2018.

Overland reduced the scale of the rooftop addition, which was critiqued for being too imposing. It will be 25 feet in height.

The proposed materials include standing seam metal panels, painted, perforated metal railing systems, and glass curtain wall systems.

Office of Historic Preservation staff said, “Generally, the proposed materials are light in appearance in comparison to the historic structure’s masonry walls and will present themselves subordinate to the historic structure. However, the applicant should explore alternative cladding materials that complement the masonry of the historic structure.

To accommodate the proposed terrace addition overlooking West Crockett Street and the River Walk, Overland wants to reposition the existing Aztec sculpture by raising it to the height of the overlook terrace. The terrace’s perforated rail system, steel columns and cast stone veneer will match existing exterior colors and textures.

View of the original Aztec monument elevated to the terrace level, as it would appear from the River Walk. Courtesy: Overland Partners.

The terrace will have a staircase to get pedestrians to and from street level. The original metal fire escape staircase will be removed.

107 N. Flores, a two-story commercial building constructed in 1915, will be restored by WestonUrban. Images courtesy of Fisher Heck Architects.

107 N. Flores Street is a rehabilitation project of a historic building that is led by Fisher Heck Architects. David Hannan of Fisher Heck is representing the owner, All Out of Bubblegum LP.

Seriously, All Out of Bubblegum LP is a real estate investment entity controlled by WestonUrban (somebody has a sense of humor), the same company that built the new Frost Bank tower.

The 107 N. Flores Street building is directly across Commerce Street from the historic City Hall building that is currently undergoing restoration, and it is one block south of the new Frost Bank tower.

At one time, this was an S.H. Kress & Co. five-and-dime store. Street level space will remain as retail, but the restoration will allow WestonUrban to lease the second story, which had been vacant for decades.

The requested C-of-A will be to:

  1. Perform rehabilitative scopes of work to the historic structure to include the cleaning and repair of all exterior masonry, repair to the existing street canopy and replace the existing roof flashing and membrane.
  2. Install new lighting on the south (E Commerce) and east (N Flores) facades.
  3. Install new, wood framed transom windows above the canopy to match those shown in historic photos.
  4. Replace the existing, aluminum, ground level storefront system with a new, aluminum storefront system.
  5. Replace the existing, second floor wood windows.

adolfo@virtualbx.com

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Construction Preview
By |2019-06-06T08:26:51-05:00June 3rd, 2019|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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