What’s Up, San Antonio?
DOWNTOWN HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE ECONOMIC AND TOURIST HUB OF SAN ANTONIO, BUT IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE AREA HAS ALSO BECOME A MAGNET FOR WELL-TO-DO SAN ANTONIANS LOOKING FOR AN UPSCALE, URBAN HABITAT.
IT USED to be that the students who attended college around San Antonio would graduate and leave,” says Emily Spicer, real estate editor for the San Antonio Express-News. “This was a town for those that wanted a suburban life. They worked in the downtown area then went home to their house in the suburbs. That has changed.”
In the last couple of years, developers have been converting old buildings in downtown San Antonio into fantastic residences. The new lofts are ultra-luxurious, very upscale and have been incredibly well received. Leading the charge into town from the suburbs are aging baby boomers and retirees. Studies show that after the children move out, these empty nesters are turning their backs on the suburbs and moving downtown as a way to scale back while remaining engaged with cultural activities and a more social environment.
The same attractions that lure tourists to a downtown area—green spaces such as the River Walk, retail stores, entertainment venues and restaurants—are also pulling in residents.
Surrounding shops and restaurants have been working hard to catch the eyes of the discerning locals—both young and old—since 2005. The four-star Pesca on the River, which opened a year and a half ago, has a sophisticated ambiance highlighted by a dramatic stone-and-glass oyster bar that sets the tone for exquisite terrace dining along the river.
Another new addition is the kid-friendly Rainforest Café, which also has locations in Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Hotel and Walt Disney parks. Inside the restaurant, cool mist floats through the air amid sounds of far-off thunder and waterfalls. The menu is equally entertaining, with appetizers like “Leaping Lizard” lettuce wraps and “Raging Thunder” buffalo wings to tempt kids’ palates.
The appearance of downtown’s deluxe market has had an effect on all of San Antonio real estate. While the average price for a home in 2004 was between $130,000 and $250,000, in 2006, a one-bedroom apartment in downtown San Antonio cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
“Last year was a record year for real estate in San Antonio, and that is continuing to reflect in the downtown area,” Spicer says. “What makes a great booming, urban residential area—restaurants, bars, culture, nightlife—is already here, and now the developers are making it possible for a lot of new residents to move to San Antonio.”
Downtown has become so hot that it has influenced real estate prices in nearby neighborhoods as well, including the King William Historic District, just south of downtown. “There has been a boom there with the restoration of older buildings,” Spicer says. “We are seeing a great deal of factory-turned-loft spaces, which is a magnet for artists and the hipster crowd.”
DOWNTOWN RESTAURANTS OPENED SINCE 2005
152 E. Pecan St.
PESCA ON THE RIVER
212 W. Crockett St.
306 W. Market St.
245 E. Commerce St.
401 S. Alamo St.
110 E. Crockett St.
EYES OVER TEXAS
600 Hemisfair Plaza Way