St. John's apartments design now features one big round corner

by Ben OlivoMarch 17, 2019
The eight-story, 250-unit St. John's Square development is being proposed for the southeast corner of St. Mary's and Nueva streets. Rendering courtesy Mark Odom Studio

You don't see many buildings with rounded corners in downtown San Antonio. The obvious example that comes to mind is the circa-1891 Clifford Building at 429 E. Commerce St., on the River Walk, longtime home of Royalty Coins.

Perhaps the old Joske's HemisFair-era fiberglass facade counts as having rounded corners, but it's also not the original, early-1900s brick structure, which owner Ashkenazy Acquisitions Corp. destroyed when it built the new space for the Dave & Busters, H&M, among others.

The Crockett Hotel has a rounded corner.

There certainly are more chamfered-cornered buildings—buildings where the sharp edge has been flattened—like the Emily Morgan hotel (which opened in 1924 as the Medical Arts Building) or the circa-1890s Reuter Building, home of the Mirror Maze attraction.

Now comes a proposed design for the St. John's Square apartments—an eight-story, 250-unit, mostly-market-rate building with a wide rounded corner on the southeast corner of South St. Mary's and East Nueva streets near La Villita. The building's other corners, facing east and south, are plain old 90-degree angled.

Austin developer Dennis McDaniel, who built the Steel House Lofts, is teaming up with the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) and St. John's Lutheran Church (which owns the 1.3-acre property) on the development, which is projected to cost anywhere from $30 to $50 million to build.

On Wednesday, the Historic and Design Review Commission will consider the design, whose facade features brick, metal panels and stucco.

The St. John's Square will also feature "walk-up, brownstone-like" units on the ground floor and at least 6,000 square feet of retail space facing St. Mary's and Nueva.

What's AMI?
The AMI for a family of four in the greater San Antonio area (including New Braunfels) is $66,800, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Here's how it breaks down for lower-income households:
» 80% - $53,440
» 60% - $40,800
» 50% - $33,400
» 40% - $26,720
» 30% - $20,400

The mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments would be primarily market-rate—roughly 80 percent of the units. The other 20 percent would be rented to households making 80 percent of the area median income—which, for a family of four, is $53,440 according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—McDaniel told the Heron last year.

McDaniel has signed a 99-year lease on the property from St. John's Lutheran Church, McDaniel said. In return, the church will have some of the garage parking spaces and revenue from the rents. In August, SAHA's commissioners voted to seek 4 percent low-income housing tax credits, a federal program that's intended to aid affordable housing growth.

The city of San Antonio is also chipping in with a $3.2 million incentives package from its Center City Housing Incentive Program—$2.3 million of which is a rebate on city property taxes over 15 years.

Last year, Tim Alcott, SAHA's real estate and legal services officer, said SAHA was considering other funding methods is has access to as a housing agency.

The development will not affect the Law Office of Nicholas & Barrera building, which sits at the corner of South Presa and Nueva streets.

For more background on how the St. John's Square partners came together, read "St. John’s Square would offer workforce housing near La Villita"

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

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