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Groups reverse course on HEB expansion

HEB Arsenal expansion gains support

The San Antonio Conservation Society and King William Association both reversed course this week and no longer oppose HEB's expansion plans at their downtown headquarters which includes closing down a stretch of Main Avenue.

After lengthy and in-depth presentations by HEB officials regarding their redevelopment plans for their Arsenal, both the San Antonio Conservation Society and King William Association reversed course and no longer oppose HEB's expansion plans at their downtown headquarters which includes closing down a stretch of Main Avenue.

"[We are] really quite pleased with the direction it was taking from our point of view," said Conservation Society president SueAnn Pemberton. "Preservation of the whole site was more important than preservation of a street that was put into place in 1949."

The stretch of Main Avenue that runs through the Arsenal historic district was added to improve traffic flow through downtown before highways were constructed nearby.

A traffic study, along with HEB's plan, proved to both groups that the closure would not affect street traffic significantly and improve bike and pedestrian traffic, including access to the Commander's House, a city-owned facility used by many nearby seniors.

"People will actually get to go into the Commander's House from the front door as opposed to the back door, which has been the case for some time because now the chain link fence and the barbed wire that's on the Flores Street side will go away," said Pemberton.

The King William Association board voted 7-6 on Thursday to no longer oppose the expansion plan. Both groups said more information was the biggest factor that changed their opinions.

However, Main Access, a grassroots organization opposed to the project, doesn't plan to stop their fight.

"We are fully confident that [the Conservation Society and KWA's] about-face does not reflect the views of the majority of their membership," said Charlotte Luongo of Main Access. "Furthermore, many other community organizations and neighborhood associations continue to oppose the privatization of South Main Avenue, including the more than 2,000 citizens supporting Main Access."

KWA also decided to not provide financial support to Main Access. Barring delays, the city council could vote on the Main Avenue closure on Dec. 5.

HEB spokesperson Dya Campos declined to comment on the added support but said the company would have to add the proposed HEB store on South Flores within a year of the council's vote.

A timeline for the remaining improvements, including nearly $4 million in roadway, pedestrian and bike access, was not given.

For a list of recent stories Charles Gonzalez has done, click here.

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