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Renderings show big changes, some think big improvements, for Alamo Plaza

SAN ANTONIO – With a wide-open space and more historic look, the plan for a new, largely closed-off Alamo plaza is bold if nothing else.

Renderings unveiled Tuesday night show glass walls along the mission's historic south wall and Houston Street. The intended effects include separating the site from the rest of the city and providing a more accurate look at what the Alamo encompasses.

"We want to be able to restore integrity to the site," said Becky Dinnin, Alamo Endowment executive director. "We've lost a lot of that because you don't know where you are if you're standing in the middle of the plaza right now."

There would be no mistaking where you were standing in the new plaza. The south wall would include a representation of the South Gate, through which most visitors would be directed.

"I think it's a major improvement," said San Antonio resident Bryan Jaeger. "I think it's something the city has needed for a long time.

The site, which would be closed to cars, would clip off portions of Alamo Street and Crockett Street.

"It's always better not to have traffic when you're trying to walk around," said Lee Back, who was visiting San Antonio.

Though convenient for Alamo visitors, the change may not be for drivers.

"It looks cool," downtown worker Aaron Kapp said. "I'm not a big fan of closing the streets, though. This is a pretty important throughway for downtown."

The design could also cut off foot traffic through the plaza. The south gate would serve as the main entrance, though the renderings show other breaks in the wall, too. The Houston Street side, however, would be blocked.

The designs don't just include keeping the modern world out, but also kicking it out of the plaza.

The plan is to relocate businesses from the Crockett, Plaza and Woolworth buildings opposite the Alamo to make way for a museum. District 9 Councilman Joe Krier, who called the plan "one of the most dramatic and exciting proposals for the Alamo I've seen in my entire life," said the unrelated shops and "schlock" being sold near the Alamo mean the site doesn't inspire people when they visit.

"We will change that by this plan and make it a lot more like the nation treats areas, like Gettysburg monument and Colonial Williamsburg, where we maintain the historical integrity of the site," Krier said.

Of course, not everyone is convinced. A first-time visitor to the Alamo Plaza said the current setup "looks great."

"I like it the way it is and I've only been here 30 minutes," Steven Krautheim said.

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