By Sabrina Robles
Pulse Staff Reporter
Tourists visit San Antonio to enjoy the River Walk and experience the historic Alamo. Just off the beaten path, visitors might miss what Southtown offers. Five districts, Collins Garden, King William, Lavaca, Lone Star and Roosevelt, make up this region.
This vibrant and fast-growing combination of neighborhoods is rich in history and diversity. Take a stroll down the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River, or stop by the Blue Star Contemporary Art Complex with galleries, pop-up shops and restaurants, where you can experience local artists while being treated to live music.
“It’s an interesting group of people. They are very artistic, and they have a different way of looking at things. It’s pretty crazy. I would have never imagined 10 years ago that this is what it would become,” said Paul Rojas, a sophomore at St. Philip’s College, and who has family in the area.
These districts are also home to First Friday and Second Saturday, reoccurring events that showcase music performances, movie screenings and, of course, art. Everything from traditional to contemporary art is showcased near the intersection of South Flores Street and Lone Star Boulevard.
Gentrification is defined as a process of renovating and improving older establishments and homes of a district to suit a middle-class taste. In recent years, gentrification is a practice that some cities and communities, such as San Francisco’s Mission District and Grand Rapids’ (Michigan) Midtown District, have gotten to know very well.
“I don’t really like it because it’s just way too much, and I like [the neighborhood] how it used to be,” said Patrick Manjarrez, a UIW senior and longtime resident of San Antonio’s South Side.
“I think this is just a White man’s version of the South Side. That’s just me. This is just White people’s version of what they think Hispanic culture should be. It’s just another gentrified part of San Antonio,” said Manjarrez.
Old Lone Star Brewery was first built in 1884 on 32 acres of land and is now home to the San Antonio Museum of Art; it was the first large brewery in Texas. Toward the end of 1933, a new brewing company named Salinas opened on Lone Star Boulevard. This name kept until 1939, becoming Champion Brewing Company, before being purchased by Muchlebach Brewing Company, and finally settling on the ever-familiar Lone Star Brewing Company in 1940.
The Lone Star District has received so much foot traffic in recent years that the City of San Antonio approved a $300-million redevelopment of the Lone Star Brewery. The reinvented complex plans to feature a luxurious hotel, apartment complexes, multiple office spaces, along with retail and entertainment spaces.
According to mysa.com, the project is at a standstill after CBL & Associates Properties from Chattanooga, Tennessee, pulled out of their partnership with Aqualand Development from San Marcos, Texas. Parkview Capital Credit from Houston, Texas, gained control over Lone Star Brewery Development last summer. In late November, the property was saved from a foreclosure auction by NCC Financial based in Houston, Texas. The property’s fate is yet to be disclosed.
Gentrification can be cast in both a negative and positive light. While new businesses and developers investing into a community can give it a second life, longtime residents who have been in the neighborhood for decades feel the change is more bittersweet than the people outside looking in do.
“It’s just not the same. I don’t recognize my neighbors anymore. So long ago it was different. Your neighbors would greet you and take time to get to know you. This street isn’t like that anymore. All those new businesses and structures would have been good for the area, yes. Just with all these new people and businesses, it seems – almost feels like – the culture is changing,” said Alicia Salas, a resident of Lone Star Boulevard for 46 years.