San Antonio: QuikTrip Construction Blitz Hits Pause in Government Hill
Feature Illustration (above): Aerial view looking northwest of the planned QuikTrip at North Walters and the I-35 frontage road. Courtesy: QuikTrip Corp.
UPDATE: 1-21-2020 — The Zoning Commission on Jan. 21 rejected by a majority vote QuikTrip’s zoning request on a motion to deny.
Originally Posted: 12-4-2019
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — In the summer of 2017, QuikTrip Corporation made the ambitious claim it would build nearly 100 stores in the San Antonio-Austin corridor, with more than 60 percent of those locations sprouting in Bexar County.
True to its word, the convenience store and fuel station chain has been aggressively building and opening stores ever since. Three stores were opened in San Antonio in 2018 and several others have come online since.
Some locations, however, require more attention during pre-construction, as is the case with a proposed store on two city blocks in east San Antonio’s Government Hill neighborhood.
Representatives of the company made their case for a station on 2.1 acres that encompass two city blocks of what were historical single family residences northwest of the intersection of Interstate 35 and North Walters Street.
Above: Proposed site plan, with the elimination of Jim Street. Courtesy: QuikTrip Corp. | Below: Area Google Map
The zoning request was to change the R-6 single family residential zoning to C-2, a neighborhood commercial classification. The commissioners, instead, voted Tuesday to postpone the case to January 21.
In addition, QuikTrip is scheduled to appear Dec. 11 before the Planning Commission on a request for “mixed use,” because the existing land use is “low density residential.”
Ashley Farrimond, a land use attorney with Kaufman | Killen, told the Zoning Commission that the applicant had participated in numerous meetings with the Government Hill Alliance Neighborhood Association. Numerous concessions were made and amenities offered to get their approval. These included providing wider sidewalks than required, and a sidewalk along Reno Street–a dead-end residential street that will also be screened from the store by a masonry wall.
Farrimond assured that lighting would be directed by the dark sky concept to avoid unwanted night-time lighting off premises. Despite these and other concessions, Farrimond assessed the mood of the audience and acknowledged there was more opposition than anticipated.
“We have contract deadlines,” Farrimond told the commissioners, but she understood that additional time might be needed to meet again with residents.
Many of those who spoke expressed concerns about traffic, the crime that some convenience stores tend to draw, the store’s proximity to Pershing Elementary one block west. There were also those who lamented the loss of several homes that QuikTrip intends to demolish. The homes were built circa 1950.
These houses are slated for demolition. From upper left clockwise: two homes on Reno; three homes along Edgar Avenue; a 4th home on Edgar; the landmark monument at the corner of Walters and I-35 Frontage; two homes on Jim Street. Images: Google Streets.
All of the land is owned by Sara Martinez and the Jackson Cloma Living Trust. The homes are rentals and QuikTrip has the two blocks under contract.
Rose Hill, president of the Government Hill Alliance, said their board voted Nov. 19 to approve the project. She added, however, that she preferred to continue talks with QuikTrip about possibly relocating the houses, rather than tearing them down.
The project also includes a request to the city that the one-block length of Jim Street west of Walters be abandoned so that it can become part of a parking lot.
An agent for the property owner disputed the residents’ claims that there would be more crime. Several of the lots are vacant and have been a magnet for criminal activity. He also noted that being at a major intersection the traffic is already heavy. If anything, with people driving into and out of a fueling station/convenience store, drivers on the frontage road will have to slow down.
Truitt Priddy of QuikTrip addressing the Zoning Commission. Image: COSA video archives.
Truitt Priddy, QuikTrip’s real estate manager for the region, told commissioners his take-away from the public hearing was that he saw many faces he did not recognize from the six neighborhood meetings he attended.
“I need to put a task force together,” Priddy said, and if necessary walk door-to-door to meet with all of the neighbors to try to resolve their concerns.
As for the homes on site, Priddy said he had retained the services of a consultant and their conclusion was they couldn’t relocate them. However, Priddy said care would be taken to convert the building materials into architectural salvage that could be reused in other homes.
Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, QuickTrip has more than 750 locations in 11 states.
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.