ILLUSTRATIONS by ALAMO ARCHITECTS
Concho Commons as it might appear from (top) the corner of LBJ Drive and Concho Street and from (above) Guadalupe Street and Concho Street. (Below) Plans include a sunken courtyard with restaurant seating.
by BRAD ROLLINS
City leaders have given conceptual approval to a commercial development between Guadalupe Street and LBJ Drive in what could be the first new downtown construction in decades.
With about 37,000 square feet of retail and office space, Concho Commons would be built on a 1.7-acre tract that has for years been a battleground between the city and property owner W.C. Carson, who in 2003 settled a lawsuit against the city with an agreement that provides for construction of a 142-unit, six-floor residential development. The planned development district approved 5-1 by the city council on Tuesday allows for a considerably more modest two-floor structure in what Mayor Susan Narvaiz called a victory for site-appropriate urban design.
“Opportunities exist today for people who want to invest to help us make downtown what we want it to become,” the mayor said.
The plan, however, is not without its ardent critics, including the Downtown Association and the Main Street Advisory Board whose members said the plan does not provide enough parking in an area with too little parking already. At the same meeting, the council considered revamped towing regulations in continuation of debate that has focused almost entirely on downtown.
“The only reason these people are not going to meet their parking requirement is because of greed [and] the only way to make them do it is to hold their feet to the fire” and reject the plan, said downtown attorney Larry Rasco, the immediate past Downtown Association president.
San Antonio-based developer Darren Casey Interests Inc.’s site plan provides for 93 surface parking spaces, 53-57 percent fewer than standards set in the city’s land development code which would typically require 158-169 spaces depending on whether the requirement is calculated based on square footage or restaurant seating. (The plan adds 14 new spaces on Guadalupe Street but these don’t count toward city requirements). On this basis, interim planning director Cecil Pennington recommended denial of the application, saying he did so reluctantly.
“There is no doubt this is a good-looking, smart project,” he said.