West Bexar County experiences explosive growth

Population of five zip codes combined equals state's 10th-largest city

SAN ANTONIO – West Bexar County along the Loop 1604 corridor has been experiencing explosive growth in the past three decades.  

An example of the growth was evident Wednesday, when Santikos Theatres celebrated a new entertainment complex in the Alamo Ranch area with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Santikos officials said their latest entertainment destination would be the first 100 percent laser projection multiplex movie theater in the world.

District 7 Councilman Cris Medina said new amenities, such as the new Santikos entertainment complex, underscores the area's growth.

"The new Casa Blanca theater out on Potranco and 1604 does speak to the growth that we have out in that part of the city and the county," Medina said.

District 6 Councilman Ray Lopez said he's lived in the area for 35 years. Lopez said he remembers when the area was filled with cow pastures.

"Over the course of the next 25 years, there will be about a million people out in that community," Lopez said.

Lopez said he first heard projections for growth in the area in 1990 while serving on the Northside Independent School District Board of Trustees. He said the projections have come to fruition, thanks to proper planning.

"How do we manage for a 25-year span out to make sure that the roads are going to stay adequate? That the sewer and water and electricity is gonna be adequate for the growth that's coming," Lopez said.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who was present at the ribbon-cutting, agreed that the growth is remarkable.

"We will soon have a city the size of Waco out here in the next 10 to 20 years. That's how fast it's growing out here," he said.

Wolff said that the unincorporated areas will face problems with urban blight if someone doesn't figure out who is going to provide services.

"At some point, before it gets too big, they're either going to have to incorporate or create their own city. Or they're going to have to talk to the city about annexing them because it will deteriorate," Wolff said.

The onus of deciding whether to annex the unincorporated areas would first be decided by the city of San Antonio, Lopez said. He said that the city is not in a position to make a quick decision on annexation. 

Lopez also said that if discourse should begin to materialize, residents in the Alamo Ranch area will have to weigh pros and cons of incorporating versus annexation.

"Do you want to pay taxes to a small municipality that you incorporate, and ultimately have to pay a higher rate, or do you incorporate with a larger city?" Lopez said.