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Fronteras: Meeting The Needs Of San Antonio’s West Side — A Conversation With The Avenida Guadalupe Association

Gabriel Quintero Velasquez, president and CEO of the Avenida Guadalupe Association.
Paul Cruz
Gabriel Quintero Velasquez, president and CEO of the Avenida Guadalupe Association.

San Antonio’s economic segregation is perhaps most reflected in the city’s near West Side, located just west of downtown. The construction of highways in the 1960s physically separated the area from the city center and blocks of homes were torn down in the name of urban renewal.

One community development corporation, the Avenida Guadalupe Association, has worked to improve the Guadalupe Street corridor in the neighborhood, build affordable senior communities and provide housing counseling to underserved populations.

“The Avenida Guadalupe is really the backbone of the neighborhood,” according to the group’s president and CEO, Gabriel Quintero Velasquez.

A few weeks ago, local community activists Antonia Castañeda and Graciela Sánchez spoke with Fronteras about the demolition of some landmarks of the predominantly Mexican-American West Side community, including the Malt House restaurant and La Gloria dance hall. They also praised the preservation of a building — at 1312 Guadalupe St. — commonly referred to by local activists as Casa Maldonado.

The Avenida Guadalupe owns that property and dismissed accusations by Castañeda, Sánchez and other activists that their intention behind proposed revitalization projects are driven by prospective profits.

“We make decisions and our community of leaders makes decisions based on need. We don't make decisions based on what we aspire to for ourselves,” said Quintero Velasquez. “We make decisions based on the aspirations of the people that we serve.”

Another point of contention unfolding in San Antonio’s near West Side: the Alazán-Apache Courts. Many housing activists want to preserve the city’s oldest public housing community.

The San Antonio Housing Authority announced plans to demolish the Courts and replace them with mixed-income units, but those plans were adjusted last month to help avoid the widespread displacement of residents.

Fronteras will air a conversation with SAHA about its plans for the Courts, future housing efforts and their continued work in the community on Feb. 12.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren