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Old Posted Jul 9, 2008, 3:46 PM
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sakyle04 sakyle04 is offline
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SAN ANTONIO │ Official Hemisfair Redevelopment Thread

The SA Current had a lengthy article today highlighting some of the issues involved in revitalizing HemisFair Park. Any thoughts?

photo on flickr - bill evans

I really sliced up the article by Clint Hale, which can be read here: http://sacurrent.com/news/story.asp?id=69025

Some highlights:

...HemisFair Park is what it is — a one-shot tourist magnet that, with the exception of the playground, isn’t really much of a park at all. So it comes as little surprise that some area architects and developers are pushing for a radical makeover for HemisFair’s 140-plus acres that they claim will help revitalize the downtown area.

“With gas prices like they are, there is great interest in coming back to the inner city, where there’s an established infrastructure,” says Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. “It’s live, work, and entertainment, and we’re looking for a 24-hour destination in San Antonio.”

Downtown entertainment (see: River Walk, Sunset Station, Blue Star) and — to a lesser extent — work (local businesses and corporate offices aplenty) are not at the core of the proposals submitted to the city to date. Rather, the push is on to bring housing to HemisFair Park, maybe knocking down a couple of landmarks along the way. Those include, potentially, the federal courthouse, the contents of which — thanks to a recent land-swap agreement — will eventually move to the SAPD’s current downtown locale.

According to Seahn Lobb, president of the Lavaca Neighborhood Association, a number of proposals for HemisFair’s transformation have been submitted to the city, including a much-discussed but still private design from local starchitects Overland Partners.

San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger was unable to speak with the Current regarding the fate of HemisFair due to some unidentified out-of-town commitment. He told the Express-News in April that he understands the city’s adoration of its historic buildings, but he acknowledged that progress sometimes leaves a few casualties in its wake.

“While I am a big believer in historic places and I believe that roads are sometimes the enemy, it’s just not working, and we really need to take a fresh, innovative look and let that land be used,” Hardberger told the E-N.

“We feel that it’s very important that we retain the park as a significant open space in the middle of downtown, and it’s very important that we strive for absolutely as much park space as possible,” said Ben Brewer III, president of Downtown Alliance San Antonio. “HemisFair certainly provides that kind of opportunity, and there are ways that might involve tearing down buildings or moving them around to free up more open space.

“There are [some proposals] on the table, and we have begun the process of gaining input,” DiGiovanni says, “but we have to move on to the implementation stage.”

And sooner rather than later say the interested parties: The man helping spur HemisFair’s redevelopment — Mayor Phil Hardberger — is slated to leave office in less than a year.

“I don’t know about a specific timetable, but I do know that this is something that needs to get started before Mayor Hardberger gets out of office,” Lobb said. “It’s like a ticking time bomb, and time is running out. And even if [Hardberger] starts it, that’s not to say the next mayor will continue it. So it needs to get as far ahead as possible if we want to do something.”
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