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Student Housing Included In West Side Downtown Loft Development

Ryan Loyd

San Antonio is adding yet another urban living project in the downtown area, but this time a significant number of units will be designated for students.

The project, located at the old Birdsong Peanut Factory site on S. Frio on the near West Side, will have 98 lofts., with 30-50 percent of them for student housing.

The official groundbreaking on Wednesday marked the beginning of a 19,000 square foot facility. Mayor Julián Castro, who has pushed for urban living and has said this is the "decade of downtown," said he was surprised by a peanut factory in San Antonio.

"I didn't know about the old Birdsong Peanut Factory," he said. "I didn't even know we had a peanut factory in San Antonio. But apparently this place closed in 1986."

The overall scope of these projects fits into the SA2020 plan, which calls for 7,500 units to be available to people in the downtown area. Cevallos Lofts, the Can Plant at the Pearl, and other rental properties are already available.

Center City Director Lori Houston says one-third of the housing planned for the next few years is already under construction, online, or in the planning phase.

On the other side of all the developments are critics who say the housing developments offered are not affordable. Houston said prices are competitive, and she is working with developers so they understand the city’s housing incentive policies to make them affordable for students.

"[We’re making sure] that we're putting these projects in an area that the prices are not too high, and working with the universities to make sure that we can develop these relationships necessary to make this an area where students want to live."

The project is in Councilman David Medina's district 5.

Medina said $130 million has gone into redevelopment of the district over the past year, including the Blue Star phase two, the Westside Multimodal Center, and Habitat for Humanity subdivisions.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.