By Ben Olivo & Benjamin Gonzalez | San Antonio Heron
The City Council voted last Thursday to sell the former Continental Hotel property at 322 W. Commerce St. to Weston Urban, the San Antonio-based developer whose portfolio includes the Frost Tower and more than a dozen properties in west downtown. Construction on an apartment mid-rise on the property could potentially be for "future students, faculty, and staff" at University of Texas at San Antonio's expansion on Dolorosa across the street south.
[ Scroll to the bottom for a map showing Weston Urban's properties. ]
The purchase price for the four-story Continental Hotel and the adjacent parking lot, located a half-block west of City Hall, is $4.7 million.
Two years ago, Weston Urban purchased the abutting two-story Arana building and the O. Henry House Museum, which face the 600 block of Dolorosa; all structures including the Continental are bound by West Commerce, San Pedro Creek, Dolorosa and South Laredo. There are no plans yet for the O. Henry House, where American writer William Sydney Porter lived in 1885, said Weston Urban President Randy Smith.
Weston Urban intends to preserve and refurbish the Continental Hotel and Arana buildings, rather than eviscerate them leaving only the facade—a common practice in San Antonio. On the lot between the buildings, a new structure containing 274 apartments rising 8-12 stories will be built. At least half of the apartments will be reserved for people making 80% of area median income, which is $72,000 for a family of four according to preliminary 2020 federal estimates.
"I think it would scale real well with the (Bexar County) buildings, with the Vistana," Smith said last week. "I do not view that as a high-rise site."
Last year, the city started the process of finding a buyer for the Continental Hotel building, which has been owned by the city for many years. The late-19th century building last housed the Metropolitan Health District offices until 2016. The campus expansion is expected to add more than 3,000 faculty, staff, and students to the area by 2028.
The development also includes a parking garage with 432 spaces—68 of which will be available to the public during the day.
Construction is expected to begin November 2021, and be finished two years later.
Aside from UTSA's growth just south, there are plans north of the site to renovate old commercial buildings into a collective retail and restaurant hotspot—the San Pedro Creek project flowing alongside all of it—lead by James Lifshutz' redevelopment of the Kline's building.
Proceeds from the Continental Hotel sale will be deposited into the City Tower fund, which supports the city's renovation of the old Frost Tower at 100 W. Houston St., Kelly Saunders, spokesperson for the Center City Development and Operations (CCDO), said via email.
For the Continental Hotel and Arana project, the city is recommending Weston Urban receive $161,000 in city fee waivers, $1 million SAWS impact fee waiver, and $500,000 in an infrastructure grant from the Houston Street and Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. Under the Center City Housing Incentive Policy, the project is also eligible for a city property tax rebate for 15 years, the estimated value of which was not provided by the city.
However, Smith said Weston Urban may partner with a public facility corporation, government-created nonprofits, which would exempt the project from paying any property taxes.
The city also anticipates to receive $18,500 a year in sales taxes from the retail portion of the project.
» Developer: Weston Urban (San Antonio)
» Address: 322 W. Commerce St.
» Property owner: Weston Urban buying from City of San Antonio
» Type: Apartments w/retail
» Height: 8-12 stories
» Units: 274 units units
» Rental type: Half market-rate, half priced at 80% area median income or lower.
» Land size: 1.86 acres total
» Cost: Unknown
» Financing: Unknown
» Public subsidies: City recommended $161,000 in city fee waivers; $1 million SAWS impact fee waiver; and $500,000 in an infrastructure grant from the Houston Street and Westside Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. Also, 15-year city property tax rebate via the Center City Housing Incentive Policy. Potential for full tax exemption via a public facility corporation partnership.
» Return on investment: Unknown
» Construction start date: November 2021
» End date: November 2023
» Architects: Unknown
June 4, 2020
The City Council unanimously votes to approve the sale of the Continental Hotel to Weston Urban.
The City of San Antonio issues a request for proposals for a developer to build apartments at the Continental Hotel site. Weston Urban is the only respondent, and was awarded the sale.
» Read more: "Former Continental Hotel to become mixed-income apartments"
The City of San Antonio moves Metropolitan Health District from the old Continental Hotel building.
Here are the latest area median income (AMI) levels for the greater San Antonio area (Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson counties), according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Want to know more about how AMI works? Click here.
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Correction: A previous version of this article implied the apartments for the upcoming project would be built for UTSA faculty and staff. Anyone can eventually live there. Also, the article erroneously stated a condition of the sale.