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Zachry Hospitality Secures Conceptual Approval on Hemisfair Project

Texas Construction News from Virtual Builders Exchange

Posted: 2-22-2018, 2:25 p.m.

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) – The Historic and Design Review Commission, commending the architect for its design, granted conceptual approval to Zachry Hospitality on a mixed use, three-building project that will occupy the northwest corner of Hemisfair Park.

The HDRC vote of confidence provides the architectural team at Overland Partners the direction it needs to proceed to 100 percent completion on the construction documents for a 14-story mixed-use hotel tower, an eight-story mixed-use office/retail building, a two-story mixed-use urban market building, and a two-level underground parking garage.

The limited liability corporate owner for Zachry is ZH Downtown Development Company LLC.

  • Hotel Tower: 230,000 square feet, 200-rooms boutique Curio Collection by Hilton.
  • Office Tower: 200,000 square feet, (150,000 square feet of Class A office).
  • Urban Market: 16,000 square feet.
  • Underground Parking: 200,000 square feet, 825 spaces (625 for the general public).

Overland principal Bob Shemwell presents the designs for a three building project in Hemisfair. Photo credit: Adolfo Pesquera

Overland principal Bob Shemwell opened his presentation to the HDRC Wednesday by stating that the firm started with the guidance provided by the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) through its master plan. The HPARC is a quasi-government agency created by City Council, which endowed it with tax increment redevelopment zone powers to raise funds in order to redevelop the majority portion of the former Hemisfair ’68 world’s fair grounds; the convention center and Institute of Texan Cultures are on Hemisfair grounds not under HPARC’s control.

The goal of HPARC is to reintegrate the 40 acres under its control by increasing the park acreage and entering partnerships with private developers to create high-use activity zones along the periphery in order to enhance park usage. Omar Gonzalez, HPARC real estate director, said the dedicated park spaces expanded from 6.5 acres when the corporation was created in 2010 to 19 acres. That left 18 acres for P3 developments, which enter the HPAC district through competitive long-term leases. The remainder is for right of way easements.

There are three park projects, but the Zachry development is only concerned with the 9-acre Civic Park that is now under construction and adjacent to its project site. Construction on the Zachry buildings is expected to begin this summer and be finished concurrently with Civic Park in 2021.

Viewed from across the Great Lawn of the future Civic Park, the Zachy Hospitality developments include the office building (left), a two-story market (center below the Tower Life Building in the distance), and the 14-story hotel (right). Illustration courtesy: Overland

Shemwell said the project design is intended to unite the park with its downtown neighbors by improving the pedestrian traffic plan and taking into consideration the viewshed in and out of the park.

“This is in the middle of a transformation that links the Arnesan River Theater all the way back to the (Lila Cockrell Theatre) mural and the (San Antonio River) at the Convention Center,” Shemwell said.

Zachry is moving forward with its project concurrently with the Civic Park project, and City of San Antonio projects to redevelop Maverick Plaza in La Villita and a conversion of South Alamo Street into a “complete streets” concept. Seattle, Washington-based GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol), the landscape architect for Civic Park, was brought in as part of the Zachry team to ensure the two projects complement each other, Shemwell noted.

“We’re creating a lot of physical apertures, but also visual ones, so that the park is very well connected back into the heart of the city,” Shemwell said. Views at pedestian level frame iconic structures in the distance, such as the Tower of the Americas in the park and the Tower Life Building in west downtown.

The three buildings will be placed next to South Alamo Street. To avoid a canyon effect, Shemwell said the hotel tower was designed with a curvature.

“What we have done is bend the face of the tower back so that we invite the vegetation and the quality of the park to move in and out of the experience along South Alamo Street. As it turns inward toward the park, it creates a great embrace, or ‘abrazo,’ toward the park,” Shemwell said.

To further ensure interaction between the park and the surrounding downtown venues, Zachry dedicated the first three floors of the hotel tower to public uses. Between the three buildings, there will be a combined 50,000 square feet of space for retail and dining.

“All of the base is oriented toward retail, food and beverage, all the things meant to activate the park,” Shemwell said. “The entire first three levels are meant to activate the park with an offering of retail and cultural activities. The second floor is about celebration and events. And the third for gathering and dining. This is a significant proportion of event spaces that are meant to invite the community to celebrate for special events.”

One feature of the hotel that Overland hopes will become iconic in its own right is a stone covered archway, a paseo that gives park visitors passage from an Alamo Street side plaza through the hotel to the Civic Park side.

The paseo that cuts through the building is scaled to the dimension of arches found at the Alamo and other 18th century Spanish Mission churches. It is meant to provide an intimate walk in a setting the visitors would recognize as architecture identified with San Antonio, he said.

Overland avoided the intrusion of surface parking on Hemisfair real estate by going below the surface. Access to this parking lot will be from Alamo Street and Nueva Street, which is being reconstructed from the pedestrian promenade it has been since 1968 into a paved street for vehicular traffic. A third access point to the garage will come in from Market Street where Zachry has plans for a multifamily apartment building in a future phase.

Gonzalez said they will bring the apartment tower to the HDRC for consideration in the very near future, so that the parking garage can be built all at once. Roughly half the parking garage will be under the multifamily property project.

The garage will be owned and managed by the City of San Antonio. However, Gonzalez said that HPARC has not yet entered a parking agreement with the city.

HPARC Real Estate Director Omar Gonzalez (above) discusses parking issues with the HDRC on the Zachry Hospitality project. Photo credit: Adolfo Pesquera. The South Alamo Street (below) complete streets concept, looking north, would provide a new winding landscaping design to bring the park to the street’s edge.



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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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