San Antonio: West Side TIRZ Approves $3 Million to Assist New SAY Sí Campus Project
Feature Illustration: Exterior scene in a concept rendering of the SAY Sí West Side Campus. Courtesy: Gensler.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone agreed this morning to provide up to $3 million in funding for infrastructure for the planned new SAY Sí West Side Campus.
Jon Hinojosa, executive director for the nonprofit visual arts youth center, gave the presentation. The funds are to be used to upgrade infrastructure at a former San Antonio Housing Authority facility. Part of the project includes providing connectivity through paths and landscaping to the Apache Creek linear park.
Hinojosa had met with the Westside TIRZ board before with a request for $3.7 million, but the item was tabled to give SAY Sí time to reexamine its costs and whittle their request down to the $3 million.
Hinojosa said the total project cost for the property acquisition, design work, interior renovations to an existing building, and exterior improvements and infrastructure is almost $17.3 million.
Bird’s-eye perspective of the planned SAY Sí West Side Campus at Apache Creek. Courtesy: Gensler.
The $3 million loan is structured to be paid out over three years, from 2020 to 2022. A similar three-year pay-out agreement for $1 million was made with Bexar County. Much of the organization’s funds are being acquired through a campaign that has attracted commitments from various philanthropic foundations.
SAY Sí hired Structure Tone Southwest as its general contractor. An executive with that company told the TIRZ board of directors that they are encouraging trades people from the West Side to provide bids to be included in the project.
Some work on the new campus is already in progress. Hinojosa said he is looking to start moving staff into the new campus by December, but recognized the pandemic may delay move-in to January.
The 5-acre site is at 1310 S. Brazos Street and its northern boundary meets the contours of the south bank of the Apache Creek. SAY Sí, with the assist of the housing authority and Big Red Dog civil engineering, was able to get the site rezoned last September from industrial to Infill Development Zone with commercial uses, a necessary step that gave them flexibility on landscaping design and parking requirements.
Following that action, SAY Sí announced in November its plans to relocate from its current 24,000-square-foot facility in Southtown to the two building 98,000-square-foot space that SAHA will vacate.
Gensler is the project architect. Features of the new facility include an art gallery and spacious gallery entrance, demonstration garden, visual arts studio, land bridge and student gathering area.
A status report submitted in late 2019 by Gensler to the state described the phase one as renovation of an existing 98,587-SF warehouse into a dynamic Community Arts Center, and the architect put the estimated cost at $8 million.
This is listed in VBX as Project ID 2020-4D73.
Google Map with the project site boundaries highlighted.
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.