SAN ANTONIO – The historic Hays Street Bridge east of downtown has gone from the brink of demolition in the 1990’s to becoming a popular gathering spot for cyclists, joggers, even yoga classes.
Yet, the land below it has been the source of past disputes.
A local brewery, Alamo Beer Co., won a major battle, but activists said they hope the Texas Supreme Court will take up the legal fight they lost on appeal over an area they wanted for a park.
Now it’s The Bridge apartments planned for the side opposite from the brewery.
Eugene Simor, the landowner and brewery founder, said he and developer Mitch Meyer have planned to create 148 units in three- and four-story buildings.
Simor said they will be small, but affordable, “with a price point that’s designed for working people downtown, $1,000 a unit or less.”
He said, “There’s not a lot of what’s called workforce housing in the inner city.”
However, the height of the buildings concerns Graciela Sanchez with the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Sanchez said they will be higher than the bridge itself.
“The current development is not going to enhance the bridge. It’s going to cover that bridge, to erase the most beautiful view of the bridge,” Sanchez said.
But Simor said even a one-story building or a line of tall trees could obscure the view of the bridge from the street.
“In a perfect world, the bridge would be put on a pedestal surrounded by thousands of acres of open land,” Simor said.
He also said the three-story building will be closest to the bridge, but it will be set back more than 60 feet “to not crowd the bridge.”
But Simor also plans to build a restaurant below with tables above on one side the bridge.
“I can’t get up here if this is your green space for your apartment complex,” said Liz Franklin, a member of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association.
Simor said, “There’s no plan as part of The Bridge apartment development to impede that in any way.”
He said when he built the brewery south of the bridge, the elevation was low enough to preserve the skyline view of downtown.
Even so, Franklin said she would tell Simor, “It’s about doing the right thing, respecting the greater San Antonio community. You can do better than that.”
The back-and-forth will likely continue between now and the Dec. 6 vote by the San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission.