Featured Illustration (above): An example of some of the buildings and public spaces in the proposed Selma mixed-use town center concept. Image: Douglas Architects
By Edmond Ortiz
Selma (Guadalupe County)–A town center with more than 2 million gross square feet of mixed uses could become the next major development along Interstate 35 northeast of San Antonio.
City Council met March 12 to review conceptual renderings of a potential mixed-use town center near Blue Bonnet Palace at Schertz Parkway and Lookout Road.
A bird’s-eye view of the proposed Selma town center, looking east. Image: Douglas Architects
City of Selma tasked San Antonio firm Douglas Architects to produce the renderings, the result of more than one year’s worth of feedback from city officials, local business leaders, landowners and other area stakeholders.
The city’s comprehensive long-range development plan has, among other recommendations, a mixed-use town center concept “that would be unique to Selma and the surrounding area,” City Administrator Johnny Casias said.
Such a mixed-use town center would be located on underdeveloped land owned by the local Johns family.
The family also owns the adjacent property that is home to the Blue Bonnet Palace, a venerated live music venue and dance hall.
The prospective town center would be surrounded by light industrial/distribution buildings, and sit just west of the Amazon Fulfillment Center and a Schertz retail center at Farm Road 3009.
Andrew Douglas, co-founder and principal of Douglas Architects, said stakeholders came up with a wide range of themes they would like to see in a Selma town center, including: private/public partnerships, a mix of residential products, such as apartments and townhomes, public amenities such as quad spaces, landscaping, greenbelt buffers, an entertainment district connecting to the Blue Bonnet Palace, a hotel and conference center, and a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly streetscape.
Here’s a breakdown of potential gross square footage, according to the conceptual plan:
1.05 million of multi-story office space
312,880 of retail space
78,220 of restaurant space
95,350 of multi-story hotel space
10,000 of two-story conference center space
544,640 of multi-story apartment buildings,
460,285 of multi-story townhomes.
Douglas described the town center as a market-driven project that could diversify residential and commercial development along I-35. Situated in the growing Randolph Metrocom region, Selma’s population reached 10,000 in 2017.
While the city has mostly single-family homes, Selma has several retail, restaurant and distribution businesses set up along I-35, and horse racing at Retama Park. Additionally, some of The Forum shopping center lies inside Selma city limits.
“I-35 is the growth corridor in this region,” Douglas added.
Selma’s mixed-use town center is proposed for construction on an underdeveloped piece of private land next to Blue Bonnet Palace. The intersection of Schertz Parkway and Lookout Road and Blue Bonnet Palace are in the foreground. Image: Douglas Architects
Douglas said Hill Country and Texas ranch style designs are the preferred architectural styles for many of the stakeholders. He added that The Domain in Austin, and Pearl and La Cantera in San Antonio could serve as architectural inspiration for Selma’s town center.
A site vision plan shows new parking garages between the Blue Bonnet Palace and the proposed retain and entertainment district, all fronting Schertz Parkway.
The residential district would be located west of the retail district. A community district, with public green space, would be located north of the residential district, fronting Lookout Road.
The retail district would feature tree-lined streets, edge seating, a stage, planters in front of retail buildings, pavilions with outdoor seating, a rideshare station, a public lawn, cafe seating, hotel pickup zone, and a pass-through to the restaurant area.
Douglas explained the retail district should contain a variety of urban retail storefronts with lots of transparency. He added the retail sector could be complemented by a boardwalk and public art.
The community district quad would feature street parking, crosswalks, lawn space, enhanced intersections, cafe seating, wide sidewalks, planters and bike lanes.
The residential district common would have many of the same elements as the community district quad.
Douglas explained Blue Bonnet Palace is a good example of building upon what exists in the immediate area, and that the venue could inspire the design and the types of development that could go into the Selma Town Center.
Preliminary conceptual site plan for Selma’s proposed town center. Image: Douglas Architects
“You’ve got a great history in this community — the stonework, the metal, flowers, the bluebonnets throughout the development. Simple things like these could really set this apart from other developments,” he added.
The conceptual plan estimates the new town center would need a total of 4,549 structured and surface parking spaces across the office, hotel, restaurant, retail and residential sectors.
Douglas said construction would unfold in phases from 10 to 20 years. Local developers helped the city and Douglas Architects to come up with an estimated total construction cost — $553 million.
According to the conceptual plan, the town center could generate $2.1 million in annual revenues from sales, property and hotel occupancy taxes.
The city is now in a months-long process of considering land entitlements and drafting an RFP that will be issued this fall to the developer community.
After a developer team is chosen, they will enter into a joint venture agreement with the landowner. The developer and city will work toward a development agreement and a master framework plan. Then work on designs for Phase I will take place for six months.
Selma does not have an economic development corporation, but it does offer economic development incentives. VBX members may track this project using ID number: 2020-29DE.
City leaders applauded the conceptual plan.
“I don’t say much, but that’s freaking incredible,” Mayor Tom Daly said about the concept. “To have people come down here and experience this on top of what we already have would be incredible.”
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.