New $150 million mixed-use development planned for East Side

SAN ANTONIO – Jackie Gorman, CEO of San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside, couldn’t hide her excitement after seeing renderings of a new $150 million mixed-use development just south of the Alamodome.

"If he can pull off everything that he has planned, I can't wait," said Gorman on Friday afternoon. "If he even pulls off a quarter of it, I can't wait."

Essex Modern City, a project by local developer Efraim Varga and Sacramento-based investment firm Harris Bay, would cover 8 acres of property on the city's East Side between Interstate 37 and the corner of Essex and Cherry streets.

The first phase would cover about 5 acres and include 80,000 square feet of office space, 65,000 square feet of retail, 248 apartments, 160 condominiums, 80 townhomes and a food hall.

"It really could be a catalytic project when you think about where it is, its proximity to the Alamodome," Gorman said. "It really could be that bridge that crosses I-37 and really expands downtown east of the freeway."

The project, which is expected to begin later this year and take about three years to complete the first phase, will focus on attracting mostly, if not all, local businesses to fill available retail and office space.

"Change cannot happen in a community without new people. You have to bring in new people, new income, new money and that's not necessarily gentrification,” Gorman said. “The thing about this project and the other work that's going on in the East Side is the pace is such that as responsible stewards of the community and responsible drivers of development, we have to make sure that we are creating places where people who are currently in the community can stay."

A second phase could include a condo tower up to 11 stories high.