The San Antonio City Council is scheduled to vote on plans to expand HEB’s corporate headquarters Thursday, but a local group is hoping some alternative designs can delay that decision.

The nonprofit think-tank imagineSanAntonio has designed two alternatives that officials believe can be a win-win for the city, HEB, and King Williams Historic District residents.

“We could keep South Main (Avenue) open and consolidate all of the buildings that they have proposed on their property to the west. We could consolidate those (buildings) with a parking structure on their property,” said imagineSanAntonio president Bob Wise. “We want to allow them to grow and bring on all the employees that they need on their site, but they don’t have to grow horizontally across South Main, they can do it vertically.”

HEB currently has 1,600 employees at their downtown campus.

Expansion would allow the company to add an estimated 800 additional employees by 2020.

It would also include a new 10,000-square-foot grocery store.

Approving HEB’s plan would mean closing South Main Avenue to the public between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and East Arsenal Street.

imagineSanAntonio’s designs reposition the facilities HEB wants to build, but more importantly they keep South Main Avenue open to the public.

Wise said the alternatives also alleviate some of the safety concerns HEB has about their employees crossing the South Main by turning it into a “complete street."

“You narrow (lanes) down to slow the traffic, provide bicycle and pedestrian lanes, segregate the different kinds of traffic, and you make it with intentional crossings so pedestrians can get across it,” he said.

With a vote expected Thursday, King William residents were split on whether the alternatives would make a difference.

“Close the street,” said Merlin Berns. “I don’t use that street because employees walk across that street in the morning and I don’t have time to wait for them. “Is a parking garage a good idea? It can be if it’s done right. Is closing off the street a great idea? Absolutely.”

Deborah Botello is vehemently opposed to closing South Main Avenue, and but she said it may be too late to change the minds of city council members,

“They actually have room on their property to build a parking garage and there’s alternative things they could do in lieu of closing the street,” Botello said. “If I had to choose between them closing the street and going with this, (imagineSanAntonio’s designs) would be a better alternative.”

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