First Look: Zachry unveils vision for Hemisfair development

Hemisfair Mixed Use Development - Overland Partners

Originally published by San Antonio Business Journal

Zachry Hospitality unveiled formal plans for a new hotel, office tower and market that represent a major milestone in the transformation of Hemisfair.

The plans include a 200-room hotel spanning 14 floors along the western edge of Hemisfair that will fly Hilton’s Curio brand flag. San Antonio-based Zachry, which played a prominent role in developing HemisFair ’68, also plans to build a 150,000-square-foot class-A office tower, which will be eight stories tall and complement the new hotel to the north.

Both projects, along with a planned market, have been designed to frame new green space at Hemisfair and to provide unique passageways offering compelling views of downtown landmarks. All three projects have been designed as mixed-use developments that will incorporate public and retail space, reinforcing the desire to attract locals and visitors to the area.

“Everything that we did was focus on what [Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp.] had started,” said Rene Garcia, vice president of development for Zachry Hospitality. “When they were trying to decide how this master plan should look and feel and what it needed to do for the community, they did a lot of public outreach. We took the work product that was part of that.”

That’s one reason why Zachry officials believe there is support for the projects from an important list of groups, including the Lavaca and King William neighborhoods, Centro San Antonio, the San Antonio Conservation Society and the Urban Land Institute, among others.

San Antonio’s Historic and Design Review Commission still must weigh in on the proposed designs.

Seeking a single vision

Omar Gonzalez, director of real estate for HPARC, said it was clear Zachry was the right pick for the public-private projects.

“The Zachry group met all of our criteria and in fact exceeded our criteria in some places,” he said.

The fact that one developer has been selected for the multiple projects is expected to create continuity in the connection with Hemisfair’s planned civic park and other green spaces.

“Having a single developer gives us a single vision,” HPARC’s Drew Hicks said. “It lets these spaces work together.”

Zachry has turned to San Antonio-based Overland Partners to design the multistructure development, which also includes two levels of underground parking with 800 spaces connected to the hotel and office building.

“We looked across the country. But we wanted someone that had the qualifications — which they do by far — and also someone who understood San Antonio,” Garcia said. “Our focus was not another development that is for tourists. This is genuinely about creating a destination spot for our community.”

Robert Shemwell, principal with Overland Partners, said the Hemisfair site represents the “mythical corner” of Main Street and Main Street, and what happens there is critical because it’s “within a stone’s throw of all of the historic and cultural icons that form the collective memory of what San Antonio is and of what people expect San Antonio to be.”

Said Shemwell, “What you will see is a lot of coordination between the building footprints and passageways and how they connect to gathering areas in the park. That will build vitality and purpose with these spaces.”

For Zachry, the Hemisfair projects represents an opportunity to extend a legacy.

“It’s is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a project like this,” Garcia said. “This area continues to live. To be part of this is amazing.”

The plan is to begin construction in late summer and have the projects completed by first or second quarter 2021, Garcia said.

The original story can be found here.