Former Continental Hotel to become mixed-income apartments

by Ben OlivoSeptember 11, 2019
The former Continental Hotel will be rehabbed into a mixed-use, mixed-income development. Photo taken by Ben Olivo | Heron on Sept. 9, 2019
The former Continental Hotel will be rehabbed into a mixed-use, mixed-income development. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

The city of San Antonio has started the process of finding a buyer for the former Continental Hotel in west downtown, 322 W. Commerce St., which it wants rehabbed into a mixed-income, mixed-use development.

The estimated sales price for the building is $4.58 million, according to a recent city presentation. The building is located a half-block north of Dolorosa street, where the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) plans to construct three schools as part of its downtown expansion.

The three-story brick and limestone building, which was built in the late 19th century, was last occupied by the Metropolitan Health District. Currently, the building sits in the middle of the construction zone for San Pedro Creek, which runs along its east wall.

The developer that is chosen must include affordable housing into the rent mix. In recent months, city officials identified the Continental Hotel as a property it's willing to unload to the private sector for the creation of more affordable housing. According to a presentation given to the Audit and Accountability Committee, the apartments might also serve "future students, faculty, and staff of UTSA's expanding downtown campus."

Last year, when city and UTSA officials announced plans to quadruple the size of the downtown campus, they identified the Continental Hotel as housing for faculty and staff. A map rendering of the expansion showed multiple stories being added to the 35,000-square-foot building.

This week, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston said the housing at the former hotel will be for everyone, including UTSA employees and students who may qualify for some of the lower rents. It's unclear how low the rents will be priced, or how many affordable apartments will be created. In other parts of west downtown, the city is selling several properties to the university, but this is not one of them.

"UTSA just wanted to make sure it was disposed of in a way that fits their needs," Houston said. "And what they need is more workforce housing in the area."

The City Council is slated to vote on the agreement in January.

The former hotel is situated in the middle of west downtown, where a major development boom has already begun with the recently-opened 24-story Frost Tower, which was co-developed by Weston Urban. Weston Urban is also obligated to create at least 265 housing units in the area, because of the agreement between it, the city and Frost Bank that resulted in the new tower. Other developers have plans for more housing and retail development.

UTSA is also planning to partner with a developer to build apartments on a two-acre parking lot just north of the campus and east of Pico de Gallo restaurant. According to bid solicitation documents filed by UTSA, the apartments would not be regulated to just UTSA students, faculty or staff.

From a public improvements perspective, the ambitious redevelopment of San Pedro Creek continues. The $75 million segment includes doubling the width of the channel to 30 feet in some parts.

Read more about the changing west downtown:

» UTSA has more up its sleeve for downtown campus

» City Council approves sale of Dolorosa properties for UTSA expansion

» Cattleman's Square Lofts would add affordable apartments near UTSA expansion

» Weston Urban purchases iconic Toudouze building; eyes synergy with UTSA expansion

» UTSA campus to connect to West Side community in university's expansion plan

» San Pedro Creek's current phase a major undertaking with channel widening, archeological digs

» As downtown development spreads, displacement and gentrification are set to roll over the West Side

Contact Ben Olivo at 210-421-3932 | | @rbolivo on Twitter

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