LSBA hears Leon Springs development plans
By Joni Simon, mysanantonio.com
Members of the Leon Springs Business Association were among the first to get a close look at the major development planned for a 21-acre parcel of land located between Leon Springs and Leon Creek.
“This is as good as it gets, qualitywise,” said Bill Kaufman, an attorney for San Antonio based Embrey Partners Ltd., of the project. Developers plan a “$30 million-plus” project to include up to 320 high-end Class-A apartment units inside a gated residential community, as well as several businesses to revitalize the area of Leon Springs east of Rudy's Bar-B-Q and the other historic structures standing at the corner of Boerne Stage Road.
Kaufman, speaking to the LSBA at The Dominion Country Club on July 19, said apartment living is “losing its stigma” among young people, whose attitudes toward housing have changed.
“When I grew up, everybody's dream was to buy a home,” Kaufman said. “Today it's different.”
Today, he said, the 4.2 million people who turn 22 each year “don't want to buy a house. First of all, their employment situation is fluid and they don't want to have a long-term commitment. Secondly, it's hard to buy a house today, it is almost impossible for a young person to qualify for a mortgage.”
He compared the development, which will consist of several two-story buildings overlooking tree-lined streets, to the Artessa at Quarry Village on Basse Road, which Embrey also developed.
“This will be low density and high quality,” he said. “We're talking about rents of between $800 and $1,200 per month. You'll have to make at least $50,000 a year to rent an apartment here.”
He said the target renter is the young professional who manages a store at The Rim or work in Boerne.
Kaufman fielded questions about the impact the project will have on traffic on the already-congested intersections around Interstate 10 and Boerne Stage Road, intersections which he says have already “been outgrown by the growth in the area.”
He says the Texas Department of Transportation has several plans in the works to make traffic run more smoothly.
These include building a turnaround lane between the existing Leon Springs Elementary school and the interstate, so people coming from Crown Ridge or The Dominion to shop at the H-E-B on the southeast corner of the interchange will no longer have to travel through Leon Springs and wait at two stop lights to get there.
There are also plans to expand Boerne Stage Road under I-10 to four lanes, and, eventually, the plan is to make all of the access roads in the area one way.
He pointed out that the area where the development will take place is currently zoned for “big box”-style retail stores.
“This will definitely be better for traffic volumes than building a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart back there,” he said.
He said the development will allow for new businesses along the north side of the access road, as well as inside the development.
Kaufman was also grilled about controversial plans to demolish a segment of Old Fredericksburg Road that currently runs behind the access road.
It is a non-maintained road which is decaying and filled with potholes, but it is also one of the few remaining portions of the Old Spanish Trail, an early transcontinental highway which was build in the 1920s, and was a precursor to the current Highway 90 and I-10.
Its demolition has been approved by San Antonio City Council and is awaiting approval next month from TxDOT.
“There will be signs marking the Old Spanish Trail, which will give the historical nature of the route more exposure than it currently has,” he said.
There are also plans to erect photographs of the trail in the clubhouse of the new apartment complex, much like photographs of the historic cement quarry are posted in the clubhouse of the Artessa at Quarry Village, celebrating the historic nature of that location.
He said the paving stones of the streets and sidewalks of the new development may even be a different color to honor the site of the trail.
“We want to embrace the historic nature of the road and of Leon Springs,” he said, adding that Rudy's and the historic stagecoach stop behind it will not be affected.
If everything runs according to plan, Kaufman said, construction will begin early in 2013, with the first buildings ready to be occupied a year later.
Response from the Leon Springs business owners was largely positive.
“Our current building will be torn down as part of this,” said Jim McKissick, who is the manager of SWBC Mortgage Leon Springs. “But this is awesome.”
Online with photos: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/LSBA-hears-Leon-Springs-development-plans-3731777.php#photo-3233205