“San Antonio is still a place where you can show up and make a difference,” says Peter French, Director of Development at Graystreet Partners. “The feeling of opportunity here is still really exciting and kind of contagious. And that hasn’t waned.”
Urban developers like Graystreet are responding to national trends, which place importance on dense neighborhoods and infill. “Companies are realizing they need to be where the workers want to be,” Peter explains. “They need to be in a walkable, cool, urban environment.”
Graystreet has several projects that illustrate their commitment to creating these urban environments, while at the same time respecting the city’s history and assets.
The Light Building
The historic site was home to the San Antonio Light, a local publication which ran from 1881 to 1993. Perhaps more than any other project in Graystreet’s repertoire, this one exemplifies the fusion of San Antonio’s past and future.
It was important to maintain the historic façade, which has been an icon of both the Broadway and McCullough corridors for decades. Peter explains that while it would have been easier to remove the print house behind the main building, “We recognized there was more value in keeping these things together as a whole.”
The design will feature the historic façade, new glass panels, and a glass cube connecting the Light and print buildings. Ford, Powell, and Carson architects will serve as an anchor tenant on the first floor, with more office space above them.
The Light Building sits at the intersection of the Broadway Cultural Corridor and the “Avenue of Light,” as the McCullough Avenue Consortium has dubbed it. This project represents a literal and figurative crossroads of San Antonio’s past and future.
The historic San Antonio Light building at 420 Broadway St. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
The Kress and Grant Buildings
The downtown tech ecosystem is about to become, well, an ecosystem. The introduction of WeWork as a tenant at the Grant building means there will be two major players in the shared co-working space industry downtown (the other being Geekdom).
On the first floor, Graystreet plans to curate a food hall. If everything goes as planned, says Peter, this will be a place for any time of day and even for multiple visits per day. Whether it’s coffee in the morning or a cocktail after work, this experience- powered by local cuisine and local vendors- will activate the Houston Street Corridor.
Peter poses the question: “How do we make this a place where people are traversing Houston Street as a matter of course?” He sees the corridor as a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare connecting local cuisine, historic assets, public gathering places, residences, and industries all together.
The historic Kress building under construction at Houston and Jefferson Streets. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
One of San Antonio’s biggest urban success stories of the last decade has been the Historic Pearl. Building off the momentum of the River North Extension, Pearl is now set to spur growth of its own. Inspired by the unprecedented investment into the Broadway corridor as a result of the 2017 Bond, Graystreet has plans for the area it calls “Broadway East”: a cluster of properties on both sides of Broadway just east of the Pearl.
They are pushing the limit on existing heights in the area with a proposed 20-story tower, which will house office space, retail, and a hotel. “The site warrants something extraordinary,” says Peter, stressing that a single story building would be a tragic underutilization of the one-acre plot. The impressive structure will serve to create a gateway effect from Midtown to Downtown.
Across Broadway, near the historic Government Hill neighborhood, Graystreet is trying its hand at creating a mixed-use district, with retail, office, and residential. Peter emphasizes that for Graystreet, the focus is not on developing one project with a shortsighted vision. For them, it’s about making sure the entire area benefits from the growth. As Peter puts it: “The tide raises all boats.”
Land preparations are underway at East Broadway, a new development property acquired by Graystreet Partners. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
Travis Park Plaza
Home to Graystreet’s offices, Travis Park Plaza will be receiving some unique tenants in the near future. Hopscotch, the interactive art exhibit, will move into the ground floor and potentially take over the basement. Graystreet is already planning to cut a new stairway into the ground, right in front of building. This will coincide with other landscaping improvements to the public space on the sidewalk. Peter also teases Lola Coffee as a future tenant, which will offer wine experiences as well.
Travis Park Plaza at Navarro and Travis Streets in Downtown San Antonio. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
With all these projects, Peter sees positive growth for downtown and the city as a whole. He thinks we are lucky to have so many historic assets already in place and that we have been passionate about preserving them. “San Antonio doesn’t need to try to be another place,” he explains. “Because there’s so much of it already here.”