24-story Villita Tower proposed near courthouse

by Ben OlivoDecember 16, 2018
JMJ Development is proposing this 24-story residential tower at 112 Villita St. A&B ARCHITECTS

Dallas developer JMJ Development brings its plans for a 24-story, 226-unit residential tower on Villita Street, a half-block east of the Bexar County Courthouse, to the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) this week.

The project, which JMJ Development is calling Villita Tower, includes the high-rise on an empty lot at 112 Villita St. on the west side of Jack White Way, and a five-story parking garage at 126 Villita St., where a one-story office building sit on the east side of Jack White Way.

It includes retail space facing Villita Street, and facing the river on two levels, as well.

In the HDRC agenda packet, the city's Office of Historic Preservation does not recommend approval of the two structures. Among its concerns is the lack of a "solar access study," which would show the high-rise's impact on the River Walk.

[ Editor's Note: I will inquire about whether the 17-story Floodgate or the 22-story Canopy by Hilton (currently under construction at Commerce and St. Mary's streets) submitted such solar access studies. ]

The city preservation staff also has issues with the demolition of the one-story brick building, which was built in 1916 by the Maverick-Clarke Litho Company and was a Western Auto Store in the 1930s. It's not a locally designated landmark, but OHP says it's eligible. OHP also says the garage should have "ground-level uses, windows or display space."

In 2017, JMJ CEO Tim Barton told the Express-News he expected the tower to cost $70 million to build. At that time, he also was planning a much taller structure at 32 stories, and he said he expected rents to cost between $1,500 and $3,000.

The Heron will reach out to Barton for an interview on Monday.

The project does not appear to have secured an downtown housing incentives package from the city.

It's unclear whether the Villita Tower would be eligible for incentives under the newly-revised Center City Housing Incentive Policy. If it is, it would receive a 75 percent tax rebate on the city portion of its property taxes (while 25 percent feeds into an affordability fund), and it would received city development and SAWS impact fee waivers. It could receive an infrastructure grant worth about $220,000 ($10,000 per unit) if at least 10 percent of its units (22) are rents to people making 80 percent of the area median income and 60 percent AMI).

However, under the new CCHIP rules, which go into effect Jan. 2, projects whose rents are more than $2.75 a square foot are ineligible. It's unclear whether Villita Tower would be ineligible, because the site map documents provided to the HDRC do not show each apartment's square footage.

B&A Architects of San Antonio is designing the tower.

JMJ Development is planning a five-story parking garage at 126 Villita St. A&B ARCHITECTS

Contact Ben Olivo: 210-421-3932 | ben@saheron.com | @rbolivo on Twitter

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