San Antonio: ULI Selects The St. John Adaptive Reuse Project for Jack Kemp Chairman’s Award
Feature Photo: The main building of the former St. John Seminary, a Catholic college campus, now restored as part of The St. John workforce apartment housing community. Source: Mission DG Ltd.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing has selected The St. John, a former seminary campus turned multifamily development, as a Chairman’s Award winner of the 2021 Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award.
The awards ceremonies took place during the Oct. 11-14 ULI Fall Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The Chairman’s Award is a special recognition reserved for a uniquely creative project that is not replicable and is designed to address a unique affordable housing challenge.
Mission DG Ltd. led the development team on The St. John, an adaptive reuse of the former 13.6-acre St. John’s Seminary campus, which has since been converted to a 228-unit apartment community. The project involved the restoration of numerous historically significant buildings and the addition of new multi-story residential buildings.
Henry Cisneros, a Mission DG partner on The St. John project.
“Projects such as The St. John are so important to recognize. The St. John is unlike any other apartment community — it’s where modern meets historic, high-quality amenities accompany charm and character, acting as a catalyst for future development and economic growth,” said Henry Cisneros, partner of Mission DG.
The principal partners contributing to the success of The St. John include the Archdiocese of San Antonio, San Antonio Housing Trust, and lending institution, IBC Bank. The commitment of these partners will ensure The St. John will serve future generations in this area of the city.
Representatives from Mission DG and San Antonio Housing Trust were in Chicago to accept the award.
Pedro Alanis, executive director of the San Antonio Housing Trust, said, “The St. John is a wonderful example of how we make progress in furthering our mission of creating and preserving affordable housing options for the people in San Antonio while retaining the integrity of our most cherished historic and cultural assets.”
The annual Jack Kemp award is given to affordable and workforce housing developments that represent outstanding achievements in the areas of affordability, innovative financing, building technologies, proximity to employment centers and transportation hubs, quality of design, and involvement of public/private partnerships. This is the first time a San Antonio project has received this award, and the third project in Texas to have received a Jack Kemp Award since its inception in 2008.
Victor Miramontes, Mission DG’s managing partner, said, “It is a significant honor to be selected as a winner of the Jack Kemp Award. The St. John was a uniquely complex development for us. It literally sits adjacent and on top of a more than 300-year-old UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site that includes the historic original walls of Mission Concepción.
“The uniqueness of The St. John is unparalleled. For our development team this was much more than just building something beautiful and new, it was about preserving the history that exists in this wonderful San Antonio neighborhood,” added Miramontes.
The $42 million St. John project offered an opportunity for the development team to preserve an at-risk historical and culturally significant site, providing much-needed affordable high-quality housing and serving and the impetus for future growth and development in one of San Antonio’s most unique geographic settings.
The development team consisted of Mission DG, NRP Construction and B&A Architects. VBX followed the progress of the project as it went through a lengthy design review process between 2015-2017. It was last described in a July 2017 VBX article when the architects requested an amendment to increase building heights.
The project was awarded the 2020 Historic Preservation Award by The Conservation Society of San Antonio and the 2020 Power of Preservation Foundation People’s Choice Award.
Edited in part from a Mission DG Ltd. news release.
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.