© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

San Antonio City Council uses eminent domain on Moses Rose’s bar for Alamo museum project

Moses Rose's Hideout on E. Houston St. is less than one block from Alamo Plaza
Dan Katz
Moses Rose's Hideout on E. Houston St. is less than one block from Alamo Plaza

The San Antonio City Council approved the invoking of eminent domain over Moses Rose’s Hideout, a bar near the Alamo on Thursday. The vote was 9-2 with council members Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Teri Castillo dissenting.

Moses Rose’s Hideout, named for an alleged Battle of the Alamo deserter, sits on a piece of property the Texas General Land Office and Alamo Trust said is needed for the ongoing Alamo museum project.

Eminent domain is a process used to acquire property for projects deemed of public use.

The state requested that the city approve the use of eminent domain after several offers to buy the property were rejected. The property owner, Vince Cantu, said no negotiations have ever taken place over the sale of the property.

The property at 516 E. Houston St. is less than a block from the Alamo Plaza and is adjacent to the Woolworth building, which will serve as the Alamo Museum in the overall project to redevelop the visitor experience at the Alamo.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the use of eminent domain was not a light measure and that it was “sad we are here” after development of the Alamo project was more than a decade in the works.

“My hope is with this action authorizing the use of eminent domain that that will accelerate for folks to get a deal done,” he said.

According to a timeline from the Alamo Trust, Cantu wanted $16 million in March 2020. The General Land Office offered $2 million in July 2020 based on a third-party property valuation it requested. Cantu rejected that offer. The state ultimately offered $3.5 million for the property in late 2022, but that offer was also rejected.

Before the vote, Cantu said he was hoping to have a meeting with the city or state before a final vote was made.

“This is the injustice of big government abusing their power and just running over the little guy,” Cantu said to the council Thursday.

Castillo and McKee-Rodriguez supported a motion to delay the acquisition process but it failed. The two ultimately voted against using eminent domain.

“I want to ensure that our small business owners aren’t at risk of a present day land grab, I understand there has been a planning process but I take issue with making plans with property that doesn’t belong to the person planning,” Castillo said.

Hope Andrade, former Texas secretary of state and a current board member of the Alamo Trust, said business in the Crockett, Woolworth and Plaza buildings have cleared out from those buildings. Moses Rose’s was the last space needed to clear.

“Despite multiple offers exceeding the valuation of this property we have not been successful,” she said. “The Alamo Management Committee has unanimously agreed that we have made every good faith effort to acquire Moses Rose’s Hideout and believe that the only option left is to urge the city council to support the use of eminent domain."

The Trust said the property is needed for a loading dock and a theater space for the museum. Not having the property would lead to the theater not being created and a loss of revenue equaling $2.3 million per year.

The vote means the acquisition of Moses Rose’s property will now go into negotiations during which either a deal will be made or the property will be condemned. Cantu said he has no faith in those negotiations.

“Sixty-six days from today they could be bulldozing my building and call that a negotiation. I don’t call that a negotiation, basically they want to negotiate with me but they wanted a loaded gun to do it,” he said.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules