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Old 04-01-2008, 12:26 PM
10 posts, read 28,785 times
Reputation: 16


I'm visitng San Antonio for the first time considering relocating here. What is up with all of the brown architecture in the downtown skyline? It appears old and rund, not exciting. Is there some ordinace about buildings in town or an aversion to style?

Old 04-01-2008, 12:29 PM
Location: Far North San Antonio
73 posts, read 90,852 times
Reputation: 23
Many of the buildings were built with limestone quarried within the city and metro area. There are a fair deal of glass towers in the surrounding metro area.

Is that playing a factor in moving here?

Last edited by TomBradyFan; 04-01-2008 at 12:58 PM..
Old 04-01-2008, 12:52 PM
10 posts, read 28,785 times
Reputation: 16
Thanks for the information. It is playing a minor role in the decision. I currently live in Atlanta and thought, for some reason, the skyline here would be a little more exciting than it is. Do you know of any planned downtown developments? Also, what's up with the Riverplace Mall - it is a bit rundown.
Old 04-01-2008, 01:00 PM
Location: Far North San Antonio
73 posts, read 90,852 times
Reputation: 23
Rivercenter Mall is what you're referring to. It's actually set to go under major revitalization starting this year. From a new look to new fine dining restaurants to a highrise hotel.
Old 04-01-2008, 01:07 PM
2,027 posts, read 6,347,436 times
Reputation: 630
There are some ordinances that prevent buildings from casting shadows on some historic buildings and such. The committee that approves the projects has too much power right now. They are strict to their ideas of what SA should be. This is something that is changing (the committee was recently reduced in size). When I moved to SA last year, the skyline was the most disappointing thing I'd ever seen. That is why I don't mind living so far North of downtown. I'm all for whoever pitched the idea that the new Tesoro headquarters spur a new "downtown" like development in Stone Oak.
Old 04-01-2008, 01:33 PM
217 posts, read 613,907 times
Reputation: 44
Yeah, coming from Atlanta you will be disappointed. Most of San Antonio is kind of rundown looking. People who grew up here don't see it that way though, so you won't get much agreement in this forum. I came from Chicago.
Old 04-01-2008, 01:53 PM
Location: San Antonio North
4,147 posts, read 7,216,170 times
Reputation: 1008
Have you actually seen these building closely? The color is ugly but the architecture is very detailed and amazing. Can it be better? Of course and there are major developments going on downtown search this forum you will find the threads.
Old 04-01-2008, 01:56 PM
824 posts, read 1,599,791 times
Reputation: 597
I’m guessing you meant “old and ruined”?

I’m sorry you think so – but I’d be very careful about forming an opinion about the quality of any city’s architecture based solely on the downtown skyline. I don’t think that the appearance of a skyline has any correlation whatsoever to the vibrancy of a city (certainly true in SA’s case). In fact, it’s mostly because downtown SA is so vibrant that land & construction are very expensive. As a result, you don’t see nearly as many new buildings as you might think, given that we actually have a 24-hour downtown, a rare thing in American cities.

Also, SA doesn’t have many "typical" downtown skyscrapers (25+ stories, lots of steel and glass) because during the 70’s & 80’s real estate boom (when skyscrapers were built in many big cities), SA wasn't a very dynamic market. We were considered a third-tier city and a “blue-collar military town”; as a result, SA saw little construction of that type (which I think is a very, very good thing).

What SA (downtown in particular) does have is what most major cities would kill for: vibrant neighborhoods that are (more or less) intact and filled with an incredible concentration of late 19th & early 20th century buildings. Incidentally, these neighborhoods feature the finest historic architecture in Texas (don’t trust me: go ask architects in Dallas, Austin, or Houston).

To comment directly to your question: there are several major projects planned for downtown, including new hotels, apartments, condo towers, etc. The most prominent project, though, is the Pearl Brewery redevelopment, a 22-acre urban village located just north of downtown (on Broadway) adjacent to the Riverwalk extension. Construction of retail, office, apartments, etc. is already underway.

The city has also recently completed a master-plan (and a TIRZ) for the area in between the downtown core and Pearl called “River North”, designed by Moule & Polyzoides, one of the preeminent town-planning firms in the country. It should be implemented in the next several months.

Have I changed your mind yet?

Oh, and to comment to “tgannaway89”: if choose to live in Stone Oak, you forfeit any credibility to make comments regarding “ugly architecture”.
Old 04-01-2008, 03:10 PM
Location: Far North San Antonio
73 posts, read 90,852 times
Reputation: 23
Originally Posted by Robert123 View Post
Yeah, coming from Atlanta you will be disappointed. Most of San Antonio is kind of rundown looking. People who grew up here don't see it that way though, so you won't get much agreement in this forum. I came from Chicago.
I have to disagree with everything you said. Most of San Antonio is most certainly not rundown looking. This there are some run downed looking areas od the city but to make a statement like that is dumbfounding.
Old 04-01-2008, 07:31 PM
4,268 posts, read 8,344,944 times
Reputation: 1783
Interesting. I'm not from San Antonio (moved here part-time in 2001 and then full-time in 2004) and I love the downtown skyline. So much so we live downtown. No, it's not Chicago (love that skyline too - spent a lot of time there), but it's very San Antonio, very southwest. The culture here is quite reflective of its history and I think the buildings reflect that. I'm not so impressed with the big boxes, but I love some of the older buildings like the Tower Life and Emily Morgan and Nix.
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