Bexar County commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 30 to allocate $7 million to help finish renovating the historic Alameda Theater in downtown San Antonio.
The commissioners also approved $26.5 million to further fund the San Antonio River Authority’s redevelopment of part of San Pedro Creek into a park.
Creek project continues
The creek initiative money recently approved by the commissioners court will fund the final two phases of the $261 million project, according to the county. This will continue flood control upgrades and beautification efforts along the creek between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Guadalupe Street, and a segment south of South Alamo Street.
Phase 1 of the creek restoration was completed in 2018 and included creekside walking paths, art installations and public gathering spots between I-35 and West Houston Street.
Two other parts of the creek are under construction. One section, from West Houston Street to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, is scheduled for completion in late 2022, according to the county. Another segment, from Guadalupe Street to South Alamo Street, is slated to open to the public in spring 2023.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores asked the river authority to work with creekside property owners to make sure the project is fully linked on the south end near I-35 at the confluence with Alazan-Apache Creek.
“We need to exhaust all of our possibilities to see if we can make it continuous,” Clay-Flores said.
Theater project to restart
The county’s $7 million figure for the Alameda Theater, local officials said, will help restart restoration work at the facility, which opened in 1949 at 318 W. Houston St. next to San Pedro Creek. For decades, it was a renowned venue for the performing arts with a focus on artists from Mexico, other Latin American countries and Spain, local leaders say.
The city of San Antonio acquired the then-closed property in 1994 and has since partnered with Bexar County, Texas Public Radio and local restauranteurs La Familia Cortez to renovate and reopen the Alameda as a live performing arts and film center with a Latino and multicultural focus.
Phase 1 work, costing $10 million, took place between January 2020 and April 2021, and included construction of a new stage and a revamp of the seating arrangement, city and county officials said. The city and county each provided initial project funding.
The remaining $27 million worth of work was interrupted because $10 million was to be private funding that eventually did not materialize during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to local officials.
A $7 million allocation approved by the City Council in early November helped to fill a $14 million funding gap to kickstart Phase 2 work, local officials said. The rest of Phase 2 will be funded with $12 million in state and federal tax credits, local officials added.
County Judge Nelson Wolff noted the length and significance of efforts to revive the Alameda Theater.
“This is probably the longest restoration project in the history of Bexar County,” he said.
Following the City Council vote, District 7 Council Member Ana Sandoval said she remembers watching Spanish-language movies at the Alameda Theater with family during her childhood. She added reopening the theater will benefit the community.
“What we are talking about today is not just an investment in the future and our economy—it secures our heritage,” Sandoval said in a statement.
“I’m thrilled to see how this will integrate and guarantee Latino artistic presence in San Antonio. It will be the largest theater in the U.S. to be dedicated to this type of art presentation.”
The overall theater project includes a reconstructed backstage area that now houses TPR’s recently relocated headquarters.