Monday, June 28, 2010

Downtown: The place to Live?

As San Antonio has grown, its population has moved farther and farther away from downtown, leaving it mostly to the tourists and the few urban professionals and well-to-do empty-nesters who can afford to live in a luxury apartment over the River Walk.  Now Mayor Castro has taken up Mayor Hardberger's banner to make downtown San Antonio a place that San Antonians can enjoy and actually live in.

What would make more people to move downtown?  More affordable apartments and single family dwellings, better public schools, a grocery store and better sidewalks and transportation options.
These are all proposed fixes in the SA 2020 initiative.  Public planning meetings will be starting in October to dream up a better downtown with possible funding from the upcoming 2012 bond program.

Some ideas proposed by Engineer Andrés Andújar of Parsons 3D/I are
for example, to create a linear park along San Pedro Creek, convert the county jail into housing and build a new, energy-efficient headquarters for CPS Energy, making its riverfront office space available to become a more valuable, taxable project. He would take the San Antonio Independent School District out of its headquarters at the entrance to the Lavaca neighborhood and put it in a redeveloped HemisFair Park, which would let the Lavaca property become something more neighborhood-appropriate. He would return Santa Rosa Street to its historical roots as a palm-lined, landscaped downtown boulevard to complement ongoing development there.
The benefits to the city as a whole are numerous.
As downtown improves, the taxable value of the property would rise in much the same way it did along the River Walk, ultimately paying back any public investment.
The dense urban core is cheaper to service than far-flung suburbs with everything from police and fire to streets and sewers. So, downtown does more than pay its own way; it subsidizes other areas.
A 2007 study by economist Steve Nivin, then chief economist for the city’s economic development department, found downtown property and activities generate $88 million a year, but that downtown costs the city $62 million a year for basic services.
 A city is only as good as its downtown.  Improving downtown SA is well worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. What would make more people to move downtown? More affordable apartments and single family dwellings, better public schools, a grocery store and better sidewalks and transportation options.

    Exactly.

    ReplyDelete