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San Antonio City Council hears plan to revive Civic Park at Hemisfair project

The Shallows at Civic League Park
The Shallows at Civic League Park

The San Antonio City Council on Thursday heard a proposal to revive the long-stalled Civic Park at Hemisfair project, a 10-acre urban oasis for large gatherings.

The goal is to have the project, which includes a mixed development of apartments, a 200-room Hilton Hotel, retail, restaurants, children's park, and parking, completed in time for the NCAA Final Four in 2025. The plan was formally hatched in 2017 between the city and site developer Zachry Hospitality.

Assistant San Antonio City Manager Lori Houston told council members construction on the project, which includes $57 million in public funding backed by voters and another $8 million for utilities, and $340 million in private funding was slowed to make room for events related to the last Final Four, the city's Tricentennial celebration, and because of the weakening downtown office market, and the pandemic.

Houston told council members new office space has been taken out of the development mix and the lease to be charged to site developer Zachry Hospitality has been reduced in an effort to get the five-year-old, delayed project moving again. That lease money will go to the redevelopment of the park.

"We've restructured the financial terms and so it's $1.15 million in lease payments," Houston said. That's a yearly lease total.

Houston told council members ground was broken this year on phase one, which is the park itself with a great lawn. She also shared the updated timeline on the project.

"The Civic Park started construction in January. We are going to continue design through December. The hotel, if all goes well, we will be able to start hotel construction in March of 2023. In June of 2023, we will do the construction on the housing, the retail, and the parking. And then the Civic Park construction will be complete in 2024 with the entire development complete in March of 2025," Houston said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he was glad to see the project to revive the historic Hemisfair area of downtown is back on track.

"The effort to bring this back into use by the public with a larger park and gathering space and restaurants and shops and a children's playground has been remarkable," he said.

The council will formally consider the proposal at its meeting on April 7.

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