River North

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Location: San Antonio, Texas. North of historic downtown core

The Community Development Corporation of Downtown San Antonio, in cooperation with the City of San Antonio, initiated the planning effort for this blighted 377-acre area north of the historic downtown core. Construction is underway on a northerly extension of he city's famous Riverwalk, through the center of the project, and a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) has just been adopted for the 250 acres nearest the River. The principal purpose of the new Master Plan is to create a shared community vision for the place to attract high-quality, high-value, urban development, and an urban code to ensure coordinated development of public and private improvements.

The planning area is surrounded on the west, north, and east by elevated expressways, and on the south by downtown San Antonio. Two miles to the north on Broadway - which transects the project - lie the city's finest old suburbs, while older, declining neighborhoods are situated just outside the expressway loop. Most of the planning area itself is dominated by wide, treeless streets, and parking lots. Industrial uses and low quality buildings prevail, with patches of neighborhood fabric and some fine historic buildings surviving. Significant historic buildings within the planning area include the Municipal Auditorium, Scottish Rite Temple, San Antonio Museum of Art, three large historic churches, two Catholic high schools, and a number of historic commercial buildings and houses.

The first major strategy of the Master Plan is to define a structure of three walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods and a performing arts district, taking maximum advantage of the existing building stock and public spaces. The performing arts district is located adjacent to the City's historic downtown core, two blocks from Alamo Plaza. The district contains a high concentration of fine historic assembly buildings and a major AT&T corporate center, and is ripe for a shared parking facility. Two of the three neighborhoods include major historic parks, the third neighborhood includes the San Antonio Museum of Art, which is housed in the converted Lone Star Brewery complex on a bend in the River.

The second strategy is to connect the project area to downtown and to the surrounding neighborhoods with transit. Twenty million visitors a year come the downtown for conventions and leisure, and less than 5% of them visit the San Antonio Museum of Art. A street trolley is proposed on Broadway to connect the downtown to the project area and the affluent neighborhoods to the north and south. The river taxis that currently operate within the downtown RiverWalk will run through the project area to the Civic Auditorium, the Museum, and on the the Pearl Brewery mixed-use project project just outside the expressway loop to the north.

The third strategy is a catalytic program of streetscape refurbishment, funded with tax increment financing and extending the high quality public realm of the RiverWalk extension into the distressed blocks between the River and Broadway. Executing such publicly funded improvements in advance of new private development is critical to encouraging developers to invest in high quality design and construction, and to making those projects financially viable.

The fourth major strategy is to put in place a clear form-based code and an accompanying design review process, to ensure that each investment compliments both the historic and the future context while shaping the enhanced public realm and rebuilding the economy of the project area. The Master Plan emphasizes the importance of a long term public/private partnership to successfully implement the community's vision for the project area, and the Code provides clear standards for each public and private increment for reinvestment.

Transect Zone(s): T4 general, T5 center.
Status: Proposed
Project or Plan's Scale: Neighborhood
Features: Civic buildings & parks, Mixed uses, Rail/fixed guideway transit, Transit oriented development, Waterfront.
Land area (in acres): 377
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 200000
Office area (in sq. ft.): 600000
Industrial area (in sq. ft.): 300000
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 6200
Civic uses (type and size): Multiple large performing arts venues including adaptive reuse of historic auditoria, the San Antonio Museum of Art, two private high schools, 3 major historic churches, and others
Parks & green space (in acres): 44
Residential types: Low-rise flats, Townhouse/rowhouse/maisonette, Small lot detached, Live/work.
Project team designers: Urban Design and Architecture: Moule & Polyzoides Architects & Urbanists; Black + Vernooy, Architecture and Urban Design; MIchael G. Imber Architects; Lake|Flato Architects; Alamo Architects, Inc.; Ford, Powell & Carson; Overland Partners; Urban Economics: Economics Research Associates; Landscape Architecture: Poole Design; Fong Hart Schneider; Transportation Engineering: TND Engineering; Civil Engineering Cost Consulting: Paper-Dawson Engineers, Inc.; Streetcar Conultation: URS Corporation; Charrette Reprographics: Reliable Graphics
Project team developers: Clients: Downtown San Antonio Community Development Corporation; City of San Antonio

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -