San Antonio City Council OKs updated Hemisfair contract

Officials overseeing the redevelopment of Hemisfair in downtown San Antonio said they look forward to working with local company Zachry Hospitality toward transforming an under-developed portion fo Hemisfair into apartments, a hotel, and an event and commercial activation space to complement Civic Park, a planned new public park. (Courtesy Google Streets)
Officials overseeing the redevelopment of Hemisfair in downtown San Antonio said they look forward to working with local company Zachry Hospitality toward transforming an under-developed portion fo Hemisfair into apartments, a hotel, and an event and commercial activation space to complement Civic Park, a planned new public park. (Courtesy Google Streets)

Officials overseeing the redevelopment of Hemisfair in downtown San Antonio said they look forward to working with local company Zachry Hospitality toward transforming an under-developed portion fo Hemisfair into apartments, a hotel, and an event and commercial activation space to complement Civic Park, a planned new public park. (Courtesy Google Streets)

San Antonio City Council on April 7 authorized city staff to update an agreement between the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. and Zachry Hospitality for the development of parcels near the Civic Park portion of Hemisfair.

According to an HPARC press release, the agreement outlines the process to deliver a hotel, event activation space, parking options and more residential units than those proposed in the original contract signed in 2017.

Construction on each project will begin by March 2023 with completion estimated no later than March 2025, the release said.

City leaders said they look forward to working with Zachry Hospitality toward developing a large public gathering and event space inside a long-underdeveloped segment of Hemisfair.

“This agreement is an important step forward, bringing one of the most critical pieces of real estate in San Antonio back to life in a way that befits the vision we had at the beginning,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “Fifty-four years after the opening of the World’s Fair that sought to put San Antonio on the international stage, we take this action in ushering forward the next chapter in Hemisfair’s redevelopment and its impact on our city.”



Specifically, development plans adjacent to Hemisfair’s Civic Park call for a total of 525 new residential units, including 87 workforce housing units, a 200-room boutique hotel, living wages for hotel employees, public parking without city funding and 65,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space accessible from Civic Park.

District 1 Council Member Mario Bravo said developing the Civic Park area—located at the corner of East Market and South Alamo streets—will bring even more foot and bicyclist traffic to Hemisfair, which lies on the southern edge of the downtown business district next to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and close to the Riverwalk and La Villita.

“This is a core piece of downtown property that not only anchors San Antonio’s central business district but also serves the entire community as evidenced by the success of the public-private partnership next to Yanaguana Garden,” Bravo said, referencing the playground and gathering spot that does exist at Hemisfair. “I support this updated agreement with the understanding that the development team is committed to beginning construction as soon as possible, and I look forward to celebrating the grand opening of this project with our community when we welcome the NCAA Men’s Final Four to San Antonio, the first of many large-scale events to come at Hemisfair.”

According to the HPARC release, the council’s approval of the updated development contract green-lights $340 million in private investment in San Antonio’s downtown portion and resolves funding challenges resulting from COVID-19 financial effects.

Privately financed parking garages will support Civic Park and surrounding development as a result of the amended contract, alleviating the city’s previous commitment to supporting and operating a $60 million parking facility, the release said.

“Our original agreement with Zachry Hospitality was to create a world-class, mixed-use development that would benefit Hemisfair and all who visit for decades to come, and this update allows us to execute that vision in a post-pandemic reality,” Hemisfair CEO Andres Andujar, said. “With this amendment, we’re delivering amenities that serve our park visitors, contribute to San Antonio’s economic recovery and help secure the Hemisfair district’s financial sustainability.”

Officials with Zachry Hospitality, a local company, said ground-floor retail spaces will populate each building in the planned development, providing economic development opportunities for small, local and minority-owned businesses.

Timelines for design and construction are included in the updated agreement, with all four parcels to be completed no later than March 2025, Zachry officials said.

“The 1968 World’s Fair became a catalyst for the evolution of San Antonio’s identity and long-term economic success. The opportunity to build on my grandfather’s and father’s commitment and service to our community at Hemisfair is truly one of my greatest honors,” Zachry Hospitality CEO David Zachry said. “Today, I am immensely grateful to work alongside so many amazing members of our community who are reigniting the magic that Hemisfair created more than 50 years ago.”

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.