The new Frost tower downtown is officially open. The latest addition to San Antonio’s skyline is also the first downtown office high-rise built in a quarter century, according to Frost officials.
About 650 Frost Bank employees just finished their move into their shiny new high-rise on West Houston. The bank lobby on the first floor is now open to customers.
Bill Day, the senior vice president for corporate communications, said bank employees will occupy only the lower half of the 23-story building. New tenants are still moving into the upper half.
“We love the fact that we are in this new space,” he said. “We’re very proud to say we work here. No matter which direction you come from to San Antonio, you see that distinctive blue building standing out in the skyline.”
He said the $142 million building sits on a former Frost motor bank location. Hundreds of Frost workers are staying downtown, and soon hundreds of people from other companies will join them in the building.
Many of those workers will live, shop and eat downtown, providing an economic boost to the West Side. Day said Frost is proud of its role in revitalizing the area, which wasn’t previously known as a social hotspot or vibrant community.
“This is changing all that because of the growth in San Antonio and the development and the desire to be downtown. Things are going to happen here,” he said.
The West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce agrees things are happening. Chamber President Kristi Villanueva said young people are a driving economic force downtown.
She said they believe in shared work spaces and incubators for new ideas and products, like the Geekdom offices.
“They’re under 35. They’re thriving. They’ve got a ton of great ideas, and then the fact that they collaborate so much with each other,” she said. “I mean everyone else needs to get on board with that too.”
Small business owners are happy to see the Frost building open up and the potential foot traffic it could bring to them. Jose Morales manages the CommonWealth Coffeehouse at the base of the Weston Centre on nearby Pecan Street. He said they plan to expand outside on the sidewalk in hopes of attracting new customers from the Frost building.
“We’re starting to fix our outside seating as well, maybe like a little stage and everything. They want to have live music later on, so I’m sure that is going to attract them,” Morales said.
Another growing attraction to the area is the San Pedro Creek Cultural Park project. County commissioners have already spent $130 million on the project. Another $85 million has been pledged to the San Antonio River Authority to finish it.
The creek project includes the renovation of the Alameda Theater and a new home for Texas Public Radio.
The authority estimates the project will eventually have a $1.5 billion economic impact on downtown, attracting new housing and businesses and generate $225 million in local property tax revenue.
The upper portion of the creek has already been transformed, and it opened in May 2018. Downtown residents and workers can take a lunch break on new seating along the creek, go for a walk or run on new walkways or dip their toes in new wading pools.
There are also landscaped public areas, waterfalls and murals. Converse resident Belen Hernandez said she loves the improvements. She frequently brings her son to the creek when they visit downtown.
“I usually walk him through here, and we go down and we stop here since there is shade and feed the ducks, and we spend a good amount of time here,” Hernandez said.
Kerry Averyt is the river authority’s senior engineer on the project. He said they are well into the first phase of the four-part project to improve the creek as it flows south through the West Side of downtown.
He said work on the lower half of the creek will be less expensive because much of it will remain rustic. Averyt said the phases in and around downtown are more expensive because of street closures and bridge replacements at Houston, Commerce and Dolorosa.
He expects the entire project to be completed by 2025.