SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio beer maker is one step closer to realizing his dreams of building microbrewery on the East side.
The San Antonio Planning Commission voted Wednesday to support Eugene Simor's plans to build a new home for his Alamo Beer.
Prior to the vote, dozens of citizens weighed in on Simor's plans for the microbrewery on a vacant lot located at the corner of N. Cherry Street and Lamar Street that was donated to the city in 2007.
Some believe the $5.7 million investment could lead to more development on the East Side. Others worry it will ruin the recently restored Hays Street pedestrian bridge.
Neighborhood preservationists spent $3.7 million in public and private money restoring the bridge, believing the land next to it would become a park.
Simor envisions a microbrewery with a skywalk tying a restaurant and beer garden to the bridge. He also wants to use a portion of the bridge deck for seating and he would like to create a park like setting with seating under the bridge.
The commission approved those uses.
"I'm very happy with the outcome, and I'm quite pleased with such grand neighborhood support," Simor said.
Right now, the lot is an eyesore with tall weeds and trash everywhere. The bridge itself has been tagged repeatedly with graffiti and lights are constantly broken. The vandalism forced the city to install a video camera on the bridge to keep a closer eye on the structure.
Simor promised he'll do a better job of protecting the bridge if he can build his brewery here. He's agreed to clean up any graffiti and to keep up with general maintenance of the bridge at no cost to the city.
"As people use a historic structure it actually helps to preserve it," Simor said. "It's when it's abandoned and left fallow that it goes into disrepair."
While Simor won this battle, some neighborhood preservationists promised to keep fighting his plans.
Nettie Hinton spent years raising money and restoring the bridge. She hopes to stop the project and protect the bridge. She said if the city wants development they should consider building housing on the lot instead.
"If you don't want to do it as a park then use it for affordable housing in a community that does not have a lot of affordable housing," Hinton said.
City Council will vote on the project in August.
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