Texas A&M University-San Antonio being surrounded by mesquite trees, wild animals and 2,000 acres of untamed land will soon be a thing of the past.
SouthStar Communities, a development and management firm, announced in November the launch of VIDA San Antonio, the city’s newest master planned community.
The project will include shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, healthcare services and more than 5,700 residential units.
VIDA is expected to break ground by April 2020 and have move-in ready homes by 2021.
Thad Rutherford, president of SouthStar Communities, said the first phase of development will feature five kinds of housing and some commercial areas.
The five types of housing options include:
- Detached Homes
“We think the impact is immeasurable. The housing, retail, restaurants and the things that are not here right now where people work,” said Rutherford. “We see VIDA as the catalytic next step for this entire area of economic prosperity.”
The San Antonio City Council reassigned the tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) to SouthStar from the Verano Land Group, the previous owners of the 600-acre planned development.
The Verano TIRZ finance plan says “The life of the TIRZ is projected to be 37.82 years with the TIRZ being in existence through September 30, 2045.”
Rebecca J. Viagran, District. 3 council member said it has been 12 years in the making to move development forward.
“If you think about it, the center of gravity for economic development is shifting to the southern sector of San Antonio,” she said.
She said the timing and the leadership is right everywhere.
“It’s high time that we have more housing, great quality house stock in this area and we’re getting it here. I think it’s the best opportunity to plan it the correct way, get those streets that we need, public transportation, trails for bikes, bike lanes, different multi-motor transportation options and I think we’re having that opportunity now,” said Viagran.
Mission Del Lago is SouthStar’s current community in San Antonio and VIDA San Antonio will be their sixth development in Texas.
Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of A&M-San Antonio, said the university is an anchor to the regional growth and development of the Southside.
“It is really important for our university to continue to grow and leverage the collaborations that are going to be happening around us. This is a long time coming,” said Matson.
She said she hopes the development brings edgy and fun hangout places for students to congregate at.
“I love to see students, faculty and staff be able to bike to work or walk to work and not have to cross 410 and just be right here,” she said.
Matson said the university has a lot of opportunities for research, collaborations and new services.
“This project will allow us to catapult and springboard forward in a very big way,” she said.
Communications sophomore Matthew Serna said he’s conflicted about VIDA San Antonio.
“It’s kind of hard to be pro development when the earth is dying and I feel like we should at least take a portion of that and turn it into a park to preserve it,” said Serna.
He said that housing is important and that he understands that people on campus should have access to more convenient places to go but he sees it a different way.
“Right now it’s telling me ‘hey we care more about this than we do about actually living and getting oxygen,’ that’s just my opinion,” Serna said. “I’m just pro earth, man.”
In addition to residential, retail, a town center and a future school, VIDA San Antonio plans to add ‘The Mad,’ connected greenways and parks with a walkable environment.
Amaury Nora, coordinator of assessment and accreditation at the College of Business at A&M-San Antonio, said he currently lives northwest of San Antonio and that he’s happy to see new development around campus.
“It makes it very exciting to know that I can actually move closer to work now,” he said.
He said that the Southside of San Antonio has been left out of development over the years.
“I think it’s great for San Antonio and for those who live in south San Antonio,” Nora said. “It basically helps the economy. The dollar goes round and round. So having it spent here in south San Antonio will definitely help this area.”
Criminology junior Alexis Franco said she’s concerned about VIDA San Antonio. She said that traffic is very bad on the Southside and the development can bring in more problems.
“It’s a lot of people that are going to live in those homes,” she said. “I think it would cause a lot of traffic trying to get to school here.”
Biology junior Alycia Rodriguez said she’s excited and thinks the development will bring in cool hangout places.
“I’m happy to hear about new development around campus. But by the time it’s finished I will be long gone from A&M-San Antonio,” she said. “It’s a bummer that some won’t experience the new community.”
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