San Antonio – changing the landscape, creating economic vitality through partnerships
Preserving the past while creating the future – that’s the city of San Antonio’s objective as it turns an iconic city property into an “urban oasis.”
Through a series of public-private partnerships (P3s), San Antonio’s Hemisfair park area is being reincarnated and reinvented. The park is a holdover from the 1968 World’s Fair – HemisFair ’68– which was held in San Antonio. Two decades later, 15 acres of the original site, near the widely recognized 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas, were redeveloped and renamed Hemisfair Park. Four years ago, the nonprofit Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. (HPARC) announced additional plans, including development of a mixed-use neighborhood with civic and cultural uses, neighborhood shops, restaurants and residential units.
Like many other Texas cities, San Antonio is accommodating public needs while struggling with fiscal constraints. With funding in short supply, the city turned to the private sector for collaborative efforts to develop and finance this and other public projects through public-private partnerships (P3s).
The Hemisfair redevelopment currently underway is planned as a three-part project, all employing public-private partnerships. The first phase, Yanaguana Garden, was completed in October 2015 at a cost of $8 million. It includes a four-acre active play and recreational environment for all ages and abilities and includes water features, a splash pad and games area.
Just last week, the San Antonio City Council signed off on phase two of Hemisfair – a $200 million project that will add 400 new multi-family residential units, office and retail space, parking and a boutique hotel. City officials expect the new commercial and residential development to provide a huge economic boost to the downtown area. It will also make San Antonio even more attractive as a destination city.
Ten percent of the new residential additions will be workforce housing. Restaurants and small retail shops will have access to 50,000 to 70,000 square feet of retail space at ground floor level and there will be up to 110,000 square feet of office space. The P3 is based on an initial 50-year lease, with the developer paying the city $1.95 million per year as lease payments. A consulting firm last year confirmed results of a city report that indicated that over 10 years, the total economic impact of construction at Hemisfair will result in $880 million in new economic activity and the work will create more than 6,000 new jobs.
HPARC officials expect the $80 million public-sector investment in phase two of the Hemisfair project will leverage $540 million in private capital investment. City officials are anticipating a third public-private partnership agreement for the final phase of the project.
This effort, however, is only one of many successful San Antonio public-private partnerships undertaken by city leaders. One of its more recent P3 successes involves a partnership with Frost Bank and a private developer. The partnership will ensure that the existing Frost Bank building downtown is utilized. The facility will become home to approximately 1,200 city employees who currently work at eight different locations. Frost Bank has announced plans to build a new tower that will accommodate downtown housing as well as retail outlets, all of which will also boost economic impact in the city.
Another partnership initiative is known as the Red Berry Estate Development Project. Partnering with three private-sector developers, the city announced a mixed-use development project that was planned for an 84-acre property owned by the city. The result will be the addition of 600 apartments, 66 townhomes and more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space, including medical offices, retail shops and restaurants.
City leaders in San Antonio have been praised for their visionary approach to solving problems. And, the city is been recognized throughout the U.S. as a leader of innovation and successful public-private partnerships.
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