San Antonio: SoFlo District Historic Building Getting New Life as Mixed-Use Venture
Feature Illustration (above): Perspective of the Fest Block from the South Flores/Cevallos Street intersection. Source: City of San Antonio.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — An early 20th century commercial building in the South Flores district will be undergoing a major restoration soon.
The Historic and Design Review Commission granted a Certificate of Appropriateness on the proposed scope of work for the Fest Block building at 1425 S. Flores Street.
This is the second of two adjacent buildings of the same era to be restored. The developer, Harris Bay, began work last year on 1405 S. Flores St.–a 9,600-square-foot, two-story circa 1920 building.
As is usually the case with Harris Bay projects in San Antonio, the company is relying on Kris Feldmann of Creo for its architectural designs.
Google Street view of the building in present day at the same Flores/Cevallos intersection.
The two-story building was constructed in 1905, according to the HDRC file, but county appraisal district records date it to 1878–a period more in line with the Fest family history. It is made of limestone, brick and stucco. It features three window bays across its front façade and a long balcony.
Floor plans filed for the project show the first level will have space for three commercial tenants and the second level will be configured for 13 apartment units. The total square footage is about 12,513 SF.
Above: the Level 1 floor plan. Below: the Level 2 floor plan. Source: COSA.
Fest Block is the only remaining building from when the Fest family settled in San Antonio in 1864. The family operated several businesses and from the structure operated a store and boarding house. In the 1910-1920s, it functioned as offices for Fest & Co. and as the Fest & AA Gittenger Café.
In the 1930s, the brick portions were occupied as a meat market/bakery and Piggly Wiggly. The building continued to change commercial functions throughout the last century, but its maintenance had been neglected over the past few decades. Most of the windows are inoperable, doors need to be replaced and the exterior stucco requires repair.
Proposed Alterations, as submitted by the architect:
The Fest Block (and the adjacent Antiques Warehouse Lofts building) was recently acquired by HB Properties LLC.
Their intent is to maintain current land use plan for high density mixed use, consistent with the current neighborhood Lone Star Plan.
To achieve this, the owner proposes to renovate and maintain the interior ground level as commercial space and provide alterations to the exterior that restore and enhance its architectural character, mainly, re-introducing existing storefronts, reintroduce a new awning inspired by clues of historical photographs and surrounding historic buildings, replace non-historic decayed windows with new historically appropriate double hung windows and clean, patch and paint only the stucco with proposed new color taken from adjacent historic building brick façade.
The existing brick and limestone will remain and be repaired as needed.
New signs will complement the historic character of the building(s) by taking into consideration.
The site plan. Building in gray is the first phase that has already been underway. Source: COSA.
Exterior lighting will be used sparingly to complement the building(s) architectural features and textures. Signages that identifies new uses (i.e. retail spaces) will be displayed in consideration with historic character and surrounding district.
Appropriate address numbering will be hand painted in the front façade taking clues from surrounding historic buildings.
Original brick and limestone will remain and be repaired as needed. Stucco to be cleaned, patched and painted with the proposed new color specified on the HDRC package taking in consideration the surrounding historic buildings.
Existing storefronts facing S. Flores St. will be restored. Other doors will be replaced accordingly with commercial code compliant hollow metal frame doors and be painted to match proposed color.
New traditional style, historically appropriate windows will be replacing existing, decaying wood windows or non-historic appropriate vinyl windows in original building openings.
The roof will be assessed by a professional and be repaired or replaced based on its condition.
View of the building in 3D from the rear, showing tenant parking and entrance. Source: COSA.
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.