A day that was to see paeans sung to the economic development of the East Side, with the opening of Alamo Brewing Company’s new facility under the Hays Street Bridge, turned into an angry earful.
A small, but vocal group of people stood atop the bridge and only stopped chanting and yelling during the Pledge of Allegiance, and when State Rep. Mike Villarreal spoke. They continued to express their anger during the prayer and when speakers, including State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Mayor Ivy Taylor, took the podium.
They were upset because on Thursday, the San Antonio City Council approved an amended economic development incentive agreement with the brewery. That agreement gave permission to brewery owner, Eugene Simor, to use a vacant lot next to the building, and space under the bridge, for parking, restaurants, retail, and perhaps even housing.
Simor stood behind the hard work he said he did over a four-year period to open his brewery. His frustration was almost palpable. “We did community outreach over a year-and-a-half, we did two years of hearings with the city," he said. "It went through the planning department. It went to the city council and passed 10 to 0 over two years ago. So we did our homework. We worked it hard. We did everything right. Not once did the protest group even offer to meet with me and express their concerns,” he stated emphatically.
The group, though, accused Simor and the city of making false promises to hire a significant workforce from the area. Simor has seven employees at the moment, with plans to grow up to 40 over the next five to seven years.
Many people hope the brewery is a part of more revitalization to come here. Simor, meanwhile, extended an olive branch, of sorts, to those unhappy with the state of affairs. “I hope in the future, maybe, we can find a way to work with them to get a solution they'll be happy with.”
The brewery is moving from its contract location at Real Ale in Blanco to San Antonio’s East Side.