Peanut factory to become housing

Plan to include student housing


SAN ANTONIO – Thanks to tax incentives and a $400,000 improvement loan, the Birdsong peanut factory at 1025 S. Frio will become a 98-unit housing complex after sitting vacant since 1986.

More than half of those units will be dedicated for student housing.

When the current owners purchased it two years ago, their initial plan was to build a small office park. Plans changed after the city of San Antonio showed them a study regarding student housing.

"It showed there was a demand for student housing to the tune of about 350 to 550 student housing units over the next 10 years," said Lori Houston, director of the city's Center City Development Office.

"You can see the UTSA Downtown campus is growing and I think this was a good move to get to it quick and be the forerunner in this part of the world," added Michael Padron, one of the managing partners of the group that owns the peanut factory property.

The group plans to build the majority of housing on adjacent property it purchased -- along with the peanut factory space.

The factory will be converted to up to 24 rental units, including possible condominiums in the four silos.

Construction is expected to begin in February 2013 and tenants could move in by August 2014 in time for the Fall semester. UTSA Downtown sits half a mile away from the property.

"We've seen some of the revitalization that's going on and we wanted to be a part of that as well and when the city graciously put this program out, we took a hard look at our project and it made sense," said Michael Wibracht, another partner in the project.

"It converts a closed-down old peanut factory into a new use. It cleans up a piece of property and it catalyzes redevelopment in the surrounding area," added Houston.

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