Be The Pearl

Urbanism/Urban Design/Public Policy/San Antonio

The Pearl Brewery Complex has been a success by nearly every measure except affordability. A cultural hot spot in San Antonio, you probably can’t go a day here without someone – including me – telling you about it1. So it makes sense that every developer wants to replicate the success in some other area.

That brings us to this gem of an advertisement for Vargas Endeavors’ “Pearl-like” complex planned for near the Alamodome 2.

Forgive me if I’m not hyped for a planning stage.

That aside, the real reason I was moved to fire up the scripts was this paragraph about the Dome 3. (Emphasis mine.)

“Since the Alamodome, very little has happened with this area,” Warrick said during an interview with the Rivard Report prior to the Thursday vote. “That’s what makes this so exciting.”

The Alamodome was a highly-controversial project when it was built two decades ago on the lead-contaminated site of the former Alamo Iron Works. It was supposed to bring jobs and development that never came. Perhaps until now. A $43.5 million improvements package was approved in January 2015 that is slated to improve connectivity to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center expansion and Hemisfair Park.

Whoa whoa whoa. I realize that some of this is simply a bit of literary dramatic writing from Iris Dimmick, the author (and managing editor of the Rivard Report) but this is a bit disappointing from a publication with designs on being important 4. It would be lovely to see these publications put some time and effort into connecting the dots for the community. Especially since the day before Iris herself wrote the story on Ivy Taylor’s push for a Triple-A baseball stadium. Now would be a great time to toss out the latest and greatest research on publicly financed stadiums as (poor) economic engines. Put it in context, Iris.

Finally, we have a series of WTF quotes from District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick.

“We definitely have plenty of room,” Warrick said of the surrounding area that is dotted with homes, warehouses and industrial complexes – some vacant, some in use.

“But we also don’t want to force people out too quickly before they can take advantage of (education and employment) programs,” the councilman added, speaking to the building fear of gentrification and displacement that the looming increased property values that many commercial and residential neighbors have.

“It’s not about making sure you can stay in the community,” he said, it’s about making sure that current residents have access to programs like Promise Zone to Work and job training opportunities so that the people in the community can rise with the neighborhood and choose to either stay or move elsewhere.

“Because does everyone want to stay?” he asked rhetorically of Eastsiders. “It’s not (or won’t be) the same neighborhood that you were in before.”

Man that’s some Triple-A hedging on gentrification. So you do in fact want to force people out, just not quickly. Way to mix in cursory mentions of programs for underprivileged folk while you lay the groundwork for rationalizing the impending displacement. Do they want to stay? Really?

The comments section sure noticed this, too.

Whatever happens with this development, I hope there are more medium options for food and shopping. If you browse around a truly mixed neighborhood, you’ll see a place to get some cheap food, a casual place, and the high-end place. While those designations are all relative – one man’s cheap is another’s expensive – you can’t get a < $10 breakfast to go here. That’s important because everyone wants that. That’s the market that Taco Cabana and every taco shop is in.

I mean, if Vargas’ new development has some of that, I could see maybe why those residents would want to stay, Councilman.

  1. Yes, as of this writing, I live at the Pearl complex. :D 

  2. I mean, it is near in that it is not far from it but it really is closer to Page Middle School than the Dome. Okay it’s about a mile to the Dome and 1800 ft to Page. It just seems weird to say it’s right under the shadow to me. Maybe I’m getting cranky. 

  3. This blog is powered by a series of shell scripts. Meh. 

  4. – Perhaps. Until Now! (dun dun dun!!) –