A first look at plans for Hemisfair Hotel in downtown San Antonio

A developer’s request to the city’s design review panel is providing a first look at a hotel tower planned for Hemisfair.

Six years in the making and forged through an agreement between the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) and Zachry Hospitality, the hotel is part of the developer’s plans for a mixed-use development within Civic Park.

The Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday granted conceptual approval for what’s being called the Hemisfair Hotel, the first step in the process for new development in the downtown area.

Construction on the hotel is expected to start in December, according to a timeline in the developer’s request to the commission, and open to guests in February 2025.

Situated in the northwestern corner of Hemisfair, Civic Park is under construction and, like the hotel, is also expected to be completed in time for the NCAA Men’s Final Four to be hosted in San Antonio on April 5 and 7, 2025.

Design plans for the hotel, by the San Antonio-based architecture firm Overland Partners, show a 17-story tower at 222 S. Alamo St. with street-level retail space and 200 hotel rooms above. The tower is shaped in a curve with either end designed to be situated near planned office and residential developments within the 5-acre section of the park.

The city’s Unified Development Code does not limit the number of stories for structures in the River Improvement Overlay 3, where the hotel will be located, as long as the height is consistent with other buildings in the vicinity and it does not block sunshine from reaching the River Walk.

The Hilton Palacio del Rio, built just before the 1968 World’s Fair, is 21 stories and the nearby San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk is 30 stories. The Grand Hyatt has 34 stories and is 425 feet tall, while the Tower of Americas is 750 feet from ground to tip.

Lisa Garza, representing the Conservation Society of San Antonio at a design review meeting on Aug. 23, said the design plans are “very compelling,” and “does not seem to overpower the site.”

In April, City Council voted to approve a revised agreement between Zachry Hospitality and HPARC that would move the project forward after delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing market conditions pushed the developer to cut the amount of commercial office space within the development.

The new agreement extended the project’s completion date by four years, to 2025. It also allows HPARC to defer payment to the city for the project through 2029 in order to give the park developer time to raise the needed funds. HPARC will reimburse the city with interest starting with an $8.8 million payment due in September 2029.

The city will collect all San Antonio hotel occupancy taxes and city sales taxes, and rebate all state hotel occupancy sales taxes to HPARC, according to the agreement, which will in turn rebate the taxes to Zachry to help offset parking costs and other public improvements at Hemisfair.

“Each day Hemisfair is one step closer to creating one of the world’s great public places, and a hotel … helps us reach our goal,” stated Andres Andujar, Hemsifair CEO. “While a majority of the built area in the Hemisfair District will be mixed-income residential, a hotel delivers on the strategy that a mix of uses is vital to the long-term sustainability of the Hemisfair neighborhood.”

Read the original article on the San Antonio Report.

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