San Antonio: VIA Metro Begins Developer Search for Scobey Storage Complex
Feature Photo (above): Front façade view of some of the Scobey Storage Complex buildings. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — VIA Metropolitan Transit formally launched its search for a private developer to assist in the redevelopment of the massive Scobey Storage Complex on the west end of downtown.
The city public transit service purchased the property in 2017 with the goal of converting it into a mixed-use commercial property that would generate revenues for the cash-strapped organization. On March 13, after many months of study on how to go forward, VIA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit responses from the development industry.
“Based on the responses received, suggestions will be adopted at VIA’s own discretion,” the RFI states. VIA set a June 10 deadline for the submission of responses.
Project Name: VIA Scobey Storage Complex Development. VBX has been tracking this under Project ID 2017-790A.
VIA bought the historic complex because it is located just north of Centro Plaza, the transit systems central transfer station. The agency’s directors were also encouraged that such an investment could be successful because of the commitment of the University of Texas-San Antonio to greatly expand its west end downtown campus.
Aerial perspective of the Scobey Storage Complex and surrounding neighborhood.
VIA wants a market supported project that leverages Centro Plaza and enhances ongoing redevelopment activities in the Near West corridor.
“There will be no contractual obligations from this RFI process, but it’s VIA’s hope that this effort will ideally lead to a targeted Request for Proposal in the near future,” the RFI said.
The Scobey Fireproof Storage Company was established in 1913 as the city’s first fireproof storage for household goods and merchandise. The five buildings at 301 N. Medina Street that comprise the existing complex are located on a 2.62-acre site. The buildings have a gross area of 271,629 SF.
It is bordered to the south by the International & Great Northern railroad depot, which is now home to VIA’s administrative offices. To the west is the county jail complex and to the east is Centro Plaza and the Bexar County Appraisal District office building.
It is also in an Opportunity Zone, providing investors a federal tax incentive. There is also a potentially a generous package of other government incentives, including local government tax abatements, performance based grants, bond financing, construction fee waivers, and other incentive programs.
In February 2019, the San Antonio Heron reported that VIA staff had been in discussions for months with Historic and Design Review Commission board members to assess the needs of the complex and a path forward. The Heron noted that:
“Meeting minutes and supporting documents, which were provided to the Heron through an open records request, only mention the integrity of the structures and their facades, and do not address design.
“When the project does go before the HDRC, VIA will ask for permission to demolish 22 percent of the structures, according to the minutes.”
A plan that would leverage Centro Plaza would make Scobey a transit-oriented development (TOD), a planning term that generally suggests limiting the use of automobiles. However, VIA’s real estate services manager told the Heron that Douglas Architects had been retained to design a parking garage, but “in a way that it can be converted into another use if it’s no longer needed.”
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.