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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 3:46 PM
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SAN ANTONIO │ Official Hemisfair Redevelopment Thread

The SA Current had a lengthy article today highlighting some of the issues involved in revitalizing HemisFair Park. Any thoughts?


photo on flickr - bill evans

I really sliced up the article by Clint Hale, which can be read here: http://sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=69025

Some highlights:

...HemisFair Park is what it is — a one-shot tourist magnet that, with the exception of the playground, isn’t really much of a park at all. So it comes as little surprise that some area architects and developers are pushing for a radical makeover for HemisFair’s 140-plus acres that they claim will help revitalize the downtown area.

“With gas prices like they are, there is great interest in coming back to the inner city, where there’s an established infrastructure,” says Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. “It’s live, work, and entertainment, and we’re looking for a 24-hour destination in San Antonio.”

Downtown entertainment (see: River Walk, Sunset Station, Blue Star) and — to a lesser extent — work (local businesses and corporate offices aplenty) are not at the core of the proposals submitted to the city to date. Rather, the push is on to bring housing to HemisFair Park, maybe knocking down a couple of landmarks along the way. Those include, potentially, the federal courthouse, the contents of which — thanks to a recent land-swap agreement — will eventually move to the SAPD’s current downtown locale.

According to Seahn Lobb, president of the Lavaca Neighborhood Association, a number of proposals for HemisFair’s transformation have been submitted to the city, including a much-discussed but still private design from local starchitects Overland Partners.

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger was unable to speak with the Current regarding the fate of HemisFair due to some unidentified out-of-town commitment. He told the Express-News in April that he understands the city’s adoration of its historic buildings, but he acknowledged that progress sometimes leaves a few casualties in its wake.

“While I am a big believer in historic places and I believe that roads are sometimes the enemy, it’s just not working, and we really need to take a fresh, innovative look and let that land be used,” Hardberger told the E-N.

“We feel that it’s very important that we retain the park as a significant open space in the middle of downtown, and it’s very important that we strive for absolutely as much park space as possible,” said Ben Brewer III, president of Downtown Alliance San Antonio. “HemisFair certainly provides that kind of opportunity, and there are ways that might involve tearing down buildings or moving them around to free up more open space.

“There are [some proposals] on the table, and we have begun the process of gaining input,” DiGiovanni says, “but we have to move on to the implementation stage.”

And sooner rather than later say the interested parties: The man helping spur HemisFair’s redevelopment — Mayor Phil Hardberger — is slated to leave office in less than a year.

“I don’t know about a specific timetable, but I do know that this is something that needs to get started before Mayor Hardberger gets out of office,” Lobb said. “It’s like a ticking time bomb, and time is running out. And even if [Hardberger] starts it, that’s not to say the next mayor will continue it. So it needs to get as far ahead as possible if we want to do something.”
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 6:45 PM
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It should have housing and more emphasis on greenspace. The concrete/stone paths are awful and there's not much to do there.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 8:44 PM
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I don't think it should have housing. But it should definitely have plenty of green park space. Parks make cities great.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 8:53 PM
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What's been going on with Victoria Commons lately?

I hope they save the current Courthouse, that building has always been one of my favorite "modern" buildings in downtown.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 8:59 PM
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I, ahem, uh... heh. *sweats a little*

... I... I hate the courthouse. I think it's ugly.

*run*
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Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 9:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmanshirt View Post
What's been going on with Victoria Commons lately?

I hope they save the current Courthouse, that building has always been one of my favorite "modern" buildings in downtown.
VC - still building more units.

and of the courthouse...i gotta agree with alexjon -

i would ride the wrecking ball (a la dr strangelove) myself to see a couple of 25 story residences on a re-designed park.
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Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 9:20 PM
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This HANDS DOWN needs a sizable residential component...its time SA get on the ball with dowtown living options.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 9:30 PM
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I hate that courthouse as well, it's digustingly round. I really like Hardberger, I was skeptical at first, but he has turned into one really good mayor. I can't wait until the plans for the park turn up.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 9:37 PM
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lol, I knew I would be in the minority about the courthouse. Hopefully if they get rid of it they'll make good use of the space.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jul 10, 2008, 5:17 AM
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How about something like 16th street mall in Denver? But with Lots of live music, with S.A. flair, and, of course a emphasis on housing. A place so alive it would rival the Riverwalk, a bit.

http://www.downtowndenver.com/BID/BID16thStreetMall.htm
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Last edited by Paul in S.A TX; Jul 10, 2008 at 5:44 AM.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 10, 2008, 5:19 AM
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Oh and a open air market.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 10, 2008, 6:35 AM
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The Federal building, U.S. Courthouse, and possibly Texan Cultures need to go. So much can be done with this prime location. Maybe they can turn the courthouse into some kinda cultural venue and save it.


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Old Posted Jul 10, 2008, 3:07 PM
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I think a mixed use of living/shopping would be ideal and probably the best idea for an area like this; think Hemisfair Row. When I think of the potential of this area, I think of when I lived on Pentagon Row in Pentagon City, VA. Shops, Mall(which we already have there within walking distance), Groceries (which this area desperately needs since Handy-Andy is no longer there), above retail rentals (like Quarry Village) and a few high-rise residences (about the same size as Vidorra); sort of a gateway to the single family residential area. There was also a large field which was always being used for soccer or rugby, and park area with bike paths and jogging trails . Of course that area had a Metro line so it was convenient to live there, not to mention I worked less than half a mile away.

Last edited by miaht82; Jul 10, 2008 at 3:18 PM.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 5:07 AM
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Federal Courthouse is leaving and building a new courthouse on the current SAPD HQ (SAPD is going to build a new co-HQ shared with the SAFD) and the Institute of Texan Cultures is said to want to build a new facility.

Everything seems to be lining up for something cool to be built. But it's imperative that those buildings get knocked down.
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  #15  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 10:28 AM
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I say keep the old houses maybe some bed and B's. surrounded by dense development.
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Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 3:17 PM
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This begs the question: What's the new Federal Courthouse going to be like? They are at a severe deficit space-wise and generally compel building something to last 50+ years through growth. Their design standards are generally canon and overrule local design standards. I like the ones in Seattle and Portland. The Portland one more, of course, but the Seattle one looks like it has a giant cat face when lit up at night!

Anyway, back to the topic... I think we keep the old houses, centralize the plaza theme, add more grass, integrate the future River North streetcar to prevent the need for more roads and build mixed-use.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jul 15, 2008, 5:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexjon View Post
This begs the question: What's the new Federal Courthouse going to be like? They are at a severe deficit space-wise and generally compel building something to last 50+ years through growth. Their design standards are generally canon and overrule local design standards. I like the ones in Seattle and Portland. The Portland one more, of course, but the Seattle one looks like it has a giant cat face when lit up at night!

Anyway, back to the topic... I think we keep the old houses, centralize the plaza theme, add more grass, integrate the future River North streetcar to prevent the need for more roads and build mixed-use.
The new courthouse should be a real treat. High ceilings, small footprint, and 50+ years of functionality....that should make it a pretty tall building. Maybe we could have a giant chupacabra face on it at night...

As for HemisFair, i would hope for much more green space. And I don't need dedicated soccer fields and softball diamonds. Maybe one basketball court, but the grass should just be grass...Allow the vast space to be used however residents want to. At Woodlawn Lake Park on a Sunday afternoon, there are any number of impromptu soccer games, pickup bball games, picnics, frisbee throwing, kite flying, and leisurely dog walks going on. And the 1.3 mile trail around the park is packed with joggers and walkers.

Something like that would work in Hemisfair. A dedicated place for the jogger and lots of open space. You can always add dedicated fields later as the populace demands, but you can't take them away as easily if they are underutilized.

The art scattered around the grounds is nice so perhaps we could sort of place it along a path on the periphery, creating an art walk of some sort, with space for future additions.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jul 15, 2008, 5:59 PM
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I don't think they really need to develop hemisfair with tons of residential (though a few wouldn't hurt). The city just needs to make it more like a park instead of a semi-developed public space with some sidewalks.
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  #19  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2008, 8:18 PM
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There's always a reason for these types of discussions to begin. So I'm sure someone already has plans for the site. Too bad this didn't coincide with the Spurs needing a new arena (but that's another story).

Anyway, the answer to to this site seems obvious to me. Incorporate the area into the convention center. They are going to want to expand at some point; expanding south seems to make better sense than using old SAWS site. There's a lot to work with to be able to attract all sizes of conventions. Wouldn't it be cool to have a courtyard/park in the middle of your convention center? Or on top?

I think the old SAWS site would be perfect for some type of transit center. A giant parking garage with drop-off and pick-up areas for buses, trolleys, taxis, bike taxis and rickshaws (if they dare). It's right next to the main east-west downtown streets and with easy access to IH 35/37/10 and near the rail line next to Sunset Station. And give those downtown workers deep monthly discounts on parking.
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  #20  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2008, 9:28 PM
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the mayor addressed the issue recently and i'll look for the link.

he said that one of the major things he wants to accompish in his final year in office is the revitalization of hemisfair. he stated that there has been too much development to see it as a central "green space" and that residential options should be the focal point. he also mentioned that they are in possession of a couple proposals for the site, not indicating if one was favored or even serious...

so we'll see. but maybe this gets pushed through before this time next year.

the article is here: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantoni...04/story2.html

and in it hardberger says, "there are two ways to go. one is the central park idea. but the other is a sophisticated upscale development...I'd like to get the redevelopment of hemisfair off the ground. i'd like to direct that."
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Last edited by sakyle04; Aug 4, 2008 at 9:45 PM. Reason: found source
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