Oil companies eyeing old Lone Star brewery

Developer wants to turn complex into mult­i-purpose facility

SAN ANTONIO - The first thing Mark Smith did was hire people to cut down the weeds that hid what the Lone Star Brewery used to be.

What slowly emerged was something Smith remembered: a 23-acre plot of land on San Antonio’s near south side, that was once a destination.

"The Hall of Horns has talked about letting us bring some iconic stuff. We're going to re-do this mural (that has) some graffiti on it," Smith said.

As the president of Aqualand Development, he has completed projects across the state.

It's easy for Smith to see past the weeds and neglect.

In money and memories, he has a lot tied up in the Lone Star legacy.

"It was so iconic because Lone Star (was) the national beer of Texas, and my grandparents used to sit over there in the beer garden and they'd be drinking beer and having a good time and we'd be out here swimming, and then you’d go walk in the Hall of Horns," says Smith.

The Hall of Horns was an attraction at the brewery complex showcasing exotic animal mounts and horns.

Forty-four years ago, the Lone Star Brewery was part of Smith's childhood. To him, it was much more than just a place that brewed beer.

Now he's banking on a rebirth, something modern-day San Antonio will still want to see, from looking at the murals depicting the city's history to swimming in a spring-fed pool or living inside the old brewery itself.

Part of Smith's plan includes the shale drilling taking place in South Texas.

We'd love (for) an oil company (to) have their facilities here, where they’re employing people, entertaining people, and housing people," says Smith.

It's not hard to figure out what would attract a developer to this area: the bones of the buildings are still in pretty good shape, but the first phase of this project won't have much to do with these buildings.

It's got more to do with people, and bringing them back to the brewery grounds.

"This and the beer garden will be the first things we'll get going," says Smith.

Like he did so many years ago, the Lone Star will be where he's diving in head-first.

He has a huge tract of land, history, and city support on his side.

"Look at it like another village in downtown. So if we had employment, housing and a grocery store and entertainment, we're kind of feeding the base of downtown," he said. "This is really going to be our main project for the next few years."

But this is not the first developer to try do something with the Lone Star.

Five years ago, KSAT walked through the site with another developer who had big plans. He was apparently derailed by the recession.

Smith said his company has the investors and the money to make it happen.

"We’ve had a lot of people that want to invest in the project, because of the iconic (nature) of Lone Star,” says Smith.

The first of several public meetings on the future of the brewery is Monday at 6 p.m. at the Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center, located at 1901 S. Alamo Street.


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