City approves tax breaks for Hays St. Bridge development

Local organization angered by decision

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council unanimously approved Thursday a nearly $800,000 tax-incentive package for further development of the area surrounding the Hays Street Bridge.

The Alamo Beer Company will receive $450,000 in tax rebates, a $295,000 public improvement grant, and a $50,000 retail recruitment grant to develop the 1.7-acre tract of land at 803 North Cherry Street.

"As a result (of the vote), the second phase of our project now will be going forward with the restaurant, retail, and a residential component," said Alamo Beer Company President Eugene Simor. "What you'll end up seeing is a public space, picnic tables, horseshoes, washers, just a really nice place to hang out in the shade underneath the Hays Street Bridge."

The brewery will begin operations on Friday, but Simor said arriving at this point has been difficult.

"The last two years have been pretty hard, changing our project location from one side of the bridge to the other, but this was the final piece of the puzzle," he said.

Members of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration group said they were surprised by the city's decision. The group fought in court to keep the publicly owned land from being privately developed in the hopes that it would become a park. A judge ruled in July that the land could have other uses, paving the way for privatization.

"We had been in good-faith negotiations with the city of San Antonio to see how we could all best comply with the jury's verdict and the judge's order," said Gary Houston. "The judge's order and the jury's decision, we thought, had protected this as open space."

Houston said the group will reconvene to discuss whether to challenge the land transfer that is currently underway between the city and Alamo Beer.

"We need to study the amendments and the council decision before making that decision ourselves," he said.