VIA Transit looking to develop apartments, retail space at Centro Plaza on West Side

If the developer, Dream On, can secure private funding, construction would begin next year

SAN ANTONIO – For the first time, VIA Metropolitan Transit is working to develop housing near its bus station, making it San Antonio’s first transit-oriented community.

VIA is taking steps to develop apartments and mixed-use retail space at the abandoned Scobey storage unit right next to the Centro VIA Plaza downtown.

The transit company purchased the empty industrial Scobey complex for $5.2 million in 2017. VIA owns the property, but the landlord’s responsibilities will be contracted out.

At least half of the units will be leased out at an affordable price for people with incomes below the median income and another portion will be leased at market price. The property is also expected to have office and commercial retail space.

VIA spokesperson Lorraine Pudilo said the location is beneficial for its proximity to downtown.

“Anyone can benefit from having a transit agency across the street, from having just a comprehensive community where they can access commercial transit, educational resources, such as UTSA downtown, which is walking distance from here,” Pudilo said.

Plus, Centro Plaza is home to three of the 10 most-traveled bus routes.

“Central Plaza is a major connector. It’s a hub, so it helps connect our residents, you know, from downtown to the Medical Center and also, you know, to the South Side sector. It is a hub,” Pudilo said.

VIA made a non-binding agreement with developer Dream On to explore possible private funding to upgrade the abandoned building at a January board meeting. The agreement allows both parties the freedom to leave without penalty.

During a January board meeting, a board member expressed concerns about the plans, claiming only one developer has shown interest in the property next to Centro Plaza over the last seven years.

“If we have no experience in this field and we have no tenant despite all the millions of boardings we have in Centro Plaza, then how are we going to have 90 or 95% occupancy?” board member Bob Comeaux said.

However, Pudilo claims the transit-oriented community will generate profits that will go right back to funding rides.

“Our goal is to move people farther and faster. Any revenue that were to come from this project will be reinvested into VIA’s operations and its services,” Pudilo said.

District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo said she will meet with VIA and Dream On in the coming weeks to discuss community outreach.

“As with any housing project, our office is always focused on bringing deeply affordable housing to District 5 that serves our communities’ needs. We are meeting with VIA and Dream On in the coming weeks to discuss a long-term community outreach plan for the Scobey project. In those meetings, we will discuss our office’s expectations for community input from residents and the need for deep affordability in the West Side. We know this project has a lot of interest, but I believe the community’s thoughts and concerns must be prioritized and adhered to throughout the entire development process.”

If Dream On can secure private funding, construction would begin next year and it is expected to be completed by 2026.

About the Authors:

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.