Hemisfair – San Antonio, Texas – Advisory Service Panel

Date:  April 28 – May 3, 2019

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Sponsor: JPB Foundation through the 10 Minute Walk Campaign and Hemisfair

Subject Area: Parks, Development

Panel Chair: Alex Rose, ULI Trustee and Senior Vice President of Development at Continental Development Corporation

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Background and Panel Assignment

The Advisory Service Panel team came to San Antonio to provide strategic advice on the transformation of the eastern portion of the Hemisfair site downtown into an urban district with park space that serves as a focal point for the community.

The panel was conducted in conjunction with the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a national movement striving to ensure that residents of urban neighborhoods throughout America have access to a high-quality park within a ten-minute walk from their homes. The 10-Minute Walk Campaign, which has been endorsed by over 230 mayors, involves a partnership between the Urban Land Institute, The Trust for Public Land, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

The advisory panel was supported by a generous charitable gift from Silver Ventures, a San Antonio-based private equity investment firm. The gift was made in furtherance of Silver Ventures’ commitment to encourage best practices in the development of San Antonio’s central city.

The panelists considered the following key questions:

  • Finding opportunities to strengthen the attractiveness of the park and identify opportunities to leverage private development that brings people to the area and supports surrounding economic impacts;
  • Identifying appropriate future uses for the existing building inventory of historic and non-historic properties, including potential commercial uses and strategies to establish development requirements to develop the park, and achieve sustainability and resiliency goals; and
  • Incorporating best practices from similar park models across the country, with a specific focus on financial sustainability.

The panel made recommendations regarding the final phase of Hemisfair’s master plan, known as the Eastern Zone, with the goal being to create an active urban district that will foster community cohesion and advance the area as a critical connector between previously disengaged sectors of the urban core.

Summary of Recommendations

By analyzing market potential, design and planning, development strategies, and implementation considerations, the panel formulated key recommendations, summarized as follows:

Create a vision for the Eastern Zone: Identify appropriate infrastructure and design interface between parks and development that incorporates future uses for the existing building inventory of historic and non-historic properties, including potential commercial uses and strategies to establish development requirements to develop the park and achieve sustainability and resiliency goals.

Cultivate a development strategy: Find opportunities to strengthen the attractiveness of the park and identify opportunities to leverage private development that brings people and residents to the area, supporting surrounding economic impacts.

Strive toward long-term sustainability: Incorporate best design and fiscal practices from similar park models across the country.

Use financing tools and methods to make goals attainable: Incorporate best design and fiscal practices from creative models across the country.

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