Already a Westside landmark, the historic train depot, with its iconic Indian atop its rotunda, is set to become VIA’s Westside Multimodal Transit Center in the Cattleman’s Square District.
“It’s almost like the Grand Central Station for transportation,” said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA interim president and CEO.
He said riders will have access to buses, other bus routes, street cars, bicycles, car rentals and possibly Amtrak and light rail service.
Arndt said the depot, most recently renovated as a credit union, will house VIA’S customer service and security operations.
He also said it will be the backdrop for a tree-lined grand plaza for community events, due for completion by 2015.
To make room for the plaza, Arndt said VIA is acquiring almost an entire city block across the street.
He said VIA must abide by “very stringent requirements that the state and federal government put on us as public agency.”
As a result of properties being sold, Tejano Explosion, a West Side Fiesta favorite for more than a decade, is moving two blocks away to the 1700 block of W. Houston.
“I know, progress, you can’t stop it. Really, I look forward to it,” said Romeo Garcia, the event’s co-founder and the owner of the Cattleman Square Tavern across the street.
Garcia said its new location is larger and more convenient to Market Square on the other side of I-35.
He said he’s already planning an event there for July 4.
However, Garcia said he may move Tejano Explosion to the grand plaza once it’s done.
Garcia and his partner, Jesse Diaz, said the Transit Center is a long overdue investment in the Westside, an estimated $35 million.
“To me, it’s about time they spend money on this area. I think VIA doing this will increase the value of the properties around here,” Garcia said.
Except for the Bexar County Jail and the Haven for Hope for the city’s homeless, Diaz said the area has been neglected for years.
At its worst, Diaz said, “The whole street would be lined with people sleeping and drinking on the street.”
But now that VIA security is more of a presence, the business partners said they’ve noticed less of that.
Diaz said he hopes the Transit Center will draw even more of the city’s attention to the area.
He said, “See if they can do something to improve the conditions.”