Construction in Alta Vista neighborhood impacting local convenience store

According to Public Works, the Breeden - West Russell Drainage Improvements Project will be done Summer 2023.

The shelves of Oscar De La Tienda are stocked with San Antonio and Texas favorites.

Cynthia Gomez is the owner. She named the store after her father.

“We were set to close on his birthday, so I knew I had to have a name that had an Oscar in it,” Gomez said.

Gomez said it’s a reflection of the Alta Vista neighborhood that surrounds it.

A neighborhood that is currently dealing with a large construction area extending down Flores from Russell Pl to Ashby Pl.

“So out of 18 months, 12 of them have been, all nearly 12 of them have been one or more or all of the roads have been blocked off,” Gomez said.

Since opening in 2021, the roads surrounding her store have been torn up for needed repairs and Gomez said it’s affecting her bottom line.

“It’s a convenience store. Margins are really thin and it have to sell a lot of chips to pay a water bill. And we just don’t have that kind of traffic,” she said.

Recently, the City of San Antonio approved allocating over $2 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for qualifying businesses impacted by construction, but Gomez said her store doesn’t qualify.

“Those are federal monies that are tied to COVID grants. And because we were not open in 2020 or 2019, we don’t qualify for that either. We open in the last quarter of 2021,” Gomez said.

Neighbors like Brandon McKelvey, who lives in the middle of the construction site, said they’re fed up too.

“I can’t take my trash out. That was a, there was like a month there where it didn’t come at all. And I have to walk across the neighbor’s yard just to get to my car,” McKelvey said.

Megan Burroughs and her two boys said they can’t walk their neighborhood anymore because of the closures.

“We love to play at San Pedro Springs Park, and so we used to go past the bodega on our way there or on our way back or both, and now we can’t. So we have to go all the way around and walk on the busy road,” Burroughs said.

They’re also worried about the neighborhood store, nervous their lifeline won’t survive with what feels like construction that won’t end.

“If this construction puts that at risk, it will certainly affect us,” Burroughs said.

“Now this is like become a little pillar of our little mini-community here. So yeah, it would be a huge loss,” McKelvey said.

According to Public Works, the project is slated to be completed this summer.

They’re improving the drainage system, reconstructing the street and reconstructing sidewalks and curbs.

Gomez said she knows the project is important but wishes something can be done to help her neighbors and her business.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.