New construction on a development located on the Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s campus has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally slated to break ground in April 2020, the VIDA San Antonio development would bring including shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and more than 5,700 residential to the A&M-San Antonio campus.
“The construction has stopped all for reasons associated with COVID-19, and not just the team but the economy and the market, it kind of all rolls into one,” said Thad Rutherford, president of SouthStar Communities. “I think everybody realized construction in April, which would have been last month, would not have been a smart move for many reasons. I think the uncertainty made us feel like what is the pathway forward?”
SouthStar Communities, a development company, is in charge of VIDA San Antonio.
The development will move forward but is postponed indefinitely until it is deemed safe to continue by all parties involved in the project.
“It’s not just us (SouthStar Communities) constructing infrastructure,” Rutherford said. “It’s other partners, home builders, multifamily developers, student housing developers. There’s other ones we have to coordinate with to build all of this infrastructure. ..It’s a coordination. It’s not just about when we think we should move forward.”
Rutherford said he has been keeping tabs on the coronavirus pandemic, city regulations and staying in touch with Texas A&M University-San Antonio President Cynthia Teniente-Matson and San Antonio districts councilman, to evaluate the next steps needed for the development.
VIDA San Antonio progress was paused in mid-March, Rutherford said. Key players monitored the coronavirus pandemic and discussed what was best for the future of not only the project but the people it would affect.
“In reality, it is on pause,” Rutherford said. “VIDA starting construction this spring is just not a reality. There’s too many unknowns and too many people involved and we really just had to sit down and pause for the time being.”
After hearing from partners in New York being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak earlier than those in Texas, contributed to the decision to stop plans to break ground for the safety of others.
“We didn’t want to break ground and it stop a week later,” Rutherford said. “That wouldn’t have been good. It’s costly and expectations would have been missed. We wanted to have a proper plan.”
Permits, safety and approvals among other priorities will play a role in determining when the project continues.
VIDA San Antonio is a part of SA Tomorrow, “an innovative, three-pronged planning effort to guide the city toward smart, sustainable growth,” according to the SA Tomorrow website.
A&M-San Antonio is one of the areas where SA Tomorrow plans for future development and growth.
“As far as us in the planning department for managing this long-range plan for the A&M area, we haven’t had any delays in permits but we’ve had delays in the process itself,” said Carlos Guerra, senior planner for the City of San Antonio Planning Department.
Social distancing and coronavirus shutdowns have delayed Input from other city officials and the community.
“We’re concerned for the students of A&M-San Antonio and the residents of San Antonio,” Rutherford said. “They’re our primary focus. We want to make sure everybody is OK.”
The goal is to move forward with the development later this year if possible, Rutherford said. The first phase of the project including residential homes was set to be delivered next spring in 2021.
Rutherford is working with Matson on helping A&M-San Antonio including donating to the food pantry and financial assistance.
“We’re more fortunate than some in this world, so we need to pay it forward and pass it along,” Rutherford said. “It’s one of the ways we still stay engaged in the community without being able to build all of the commercial and residential projects right now.”
All SouthStar projects have been paused for the time being; however, Rutherford says they are committed to moving forward.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and we’ve certainly invested a lot of our resources and money to make VIDA a reality,” Rutherford said. “We take pride in the Southside.”
Rutherford acknowledges the values, goals and growth of A&M-San Antonio and is focused on collaborating with the school on future developments.
“We wouldn’t be building VIDA if it wasn’t for Texas A&M University-San Antonio,” Rutherford said. “We knew that from the second we heard of the project.”
For more information on VIDA San Antonio, visit livevida.com.