Cherry Street to become a 'walkable streetscape' on East Side

Residents, urban designers demanded changes in project

SAN ANTONIO – One of the city's oldest streets is undergoing a $2.6 million face-lift that could serve as a gateway to the revitalization of the near East Side.

Nine blocks of Cherry Street will become a "walkable streetscape," said Nicolas Rivard, an urban designer with Overland Partners who also lives in the neighborhood.

Rivard said it will have "sidewalks that are separated from the street with a landscape buffer, seeding and street trees," features that were dropped from the project due to cost concerns.

"The community said that's not acceptable," Rivard said.

He said it took online petitions, letters of support and working with city leaders to get those amenities restored.

Rivard said an additional $250,000 needed to complete the streetscape was found left over from another project.

"It will set a precedent for the quality of design that the neighborhood accepts and expects from the city when streets are redone," Rivard said.

Much of the work is at the foot of the historic Hays Street Bridge, where below there is a new brewery and pub.

Juan Garcia, former president of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association, said, "It's been a catalyst. It shows what can be done when someone is interested in investing in an area that needs it."

He said the streetscape on Cherry Street also should add to the ongoing revitalization of historic homes in Dignowity Hill.

He said the Cherry Street project could be a sign of what's to come.

"We're definitely hopeful," Garcia said.

Stanley Mitchell, who often walks for his health on the Hays Street Bridge, said he wants to see what Cherry Street will looks like by the end of the year.

"It's coming together. I see it, and hopefully everyone else will see it," Mitchell said.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.