Leading SA: Centro San Antonio Economic Development Director discusses new public database, big projects

SAN ANTONIO – If you have been downtown recently, you have probably noticed the construction, the cranes, and the big projects.

Sarah Esserleiu Khalil, Centro San Antonio Economic Development Director, joined Leading SA to discuss the new public database and the big projects on the horizon.

“We have been working for about a year to build this tool, but really, this comes about because we’ve had a lot of construction and a lot of questions about that construction... We wanted to have a way to see it easily and demystify some of the construction. [The map is] broken down by private and public [projects,]” Khalil said.

The database is open for the public to use and is intended to be user-friendly.

You don’t need to be sophisticated [or] know terminology about development or construction. You can just go to the tool and kind of click into it. Also, we when we talk to businesses and they’re considering maybe opening a location downtown, they want to be able to know what exactly is going on and what can they count on in the coming years as far as office workers or tourism or more residents downtown to know if it’s a good spot for them to open. So we wanted this tool to be broad open to kind of the investment and business community, but also for the public. This is curious about construction downtown,” Khalil said.

A key initiative right now is Downtown 2.0, where people live, work, and play in our city’s urban core.

Khalil spoke on why the resident growth downtown is vital to the initiative, adding how other downtown residents impacted their cities during the pandemic.

One is that walkability and that vitality can only come about if there are more residents to support the retail. And what we saw in the pandemic was, you know, hospitality and office kind of went away for a couple of years, and that made it hard for the resident population downtown there. There weren’t many residents in our downtown [like] in some other downtowns. It was really the residents that kept their downtown alive... Office remains kind of a new challenge, but we are seeing more apartments, and downtown can be a very livable place,” said Khalil.

Khalil even highlighted some present and future aspects of downtown living.

“We have the Pearl is fantastic. Downtown is great, but the core is really built around kind of that walkability. You have the River Walk, you have a lot of other great things that have come up. I mean, Legacy Park. And when the weather is great, you want to go over there and hang out. When Civic Park opens, hopefully later this year you can go and hang out on the lawn as well. And just there’s a lot to do and it’s very kind of urban, walkable environment that we have,” Khalil said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.