Originally Published in San Antonio Business-Journal
The revitalization of San Antonio’s Houston Street corridor is decades in the making and continued improvements aimed at drawing more businesses, locals and visitors to the area hinge in large part on the reactivation of multiple existing structures along the street, including some that remain mostly empty or underutilized.
But securing the reinvestment and redevelopment needed to draw significant activity to the artery has become even more challenging, and now some city leaders are calling for a fresh approach to ignite needed change along Houston.
“They are keystone properties,” Centro San Antonio CEO Matt Brown said. “I know that the owners have worked hard to adapt the uses to attract great tenants. But factors beyond their control, like Covid and WeWork’s struggles, have gotten in the way.”
Houston Street’s history dates back to the 18th century. At one time, it was a thriving retail and entertainment center.
Despite efforts by many and significant investments over a long period, a substantial revitalization of Houston Street has proven a monumental task.
“It has been studied and researched so many times,” Brendel said, adding that it’s “frustrating that not a lot has changed.”
There have been some wins, including the addition of the new Frost Tower that opened on West Houston prior to the pandemic.
Brendel points to the Hilton Garden and Town Place Suites projects, for example, which replaced vacant storefronts with new activity.
“Still, more is needed,” he said, noting some potential investors may be waiting to see how the redevelopment of Alamo Plaza shakes out.
The hurdles are aplenty, according to Bravo.
“It is a hell of a challenge,” he said. “We just need to have some conversations on what that pivot looks like.”