$450M Alamo plaza redevelopment approved
- The San Antonio (Texas) City Council approved a deal with the Texas General Land Office that could see up to $450 million invested into redeveloping the plaza around the Alamo, which is the site of the historic Battle of the Alamo and a symbol of the Texas Revolution.
- The 50-year lease agreement would allow the state agency to execute on the Alamo Master Plan, which includes restoration of the Alamo Mission and Long Barracks; delineation of the Alamo's footprint, which, according to the San Antonio Express-News, includes removal of existing curbs and steps and lowering the ground in some areas to return it to its original level and to expose the base of historic buildings; construction of a 135,000-square-foot museum and visitor center complex; and relocation and repair of the the Alamo Cenotaph. The plan, which will entail conversion of some streets to pedestrian-only paths, will also create a distinctive entry into the expanded plaza.
- According to the city council staff, Texas has allocated $106 million for the project, with San Antonio set to contribute $38 million and the Alamo Endowment more than $200 million. Construction will reportedly be complete by 2024.
Construction projects that include renovations to or demolition around historic sites, particularly when they involve work on landmarks as beloved as the Alamo, are often subject to protests, and contractors can find themselves on the front lines simply by virtue of their physical presence on the jobsite.
In Rock Island, Illinois, demolition crews will likely have to navigate protestors when the 1896 Rock Island County courthouse, which was built by Civil War veterans, is razed to make way for landscaping, a berm and security bollards for a new justice center annex. Even county officials showed up to demonstrate this week, citing the building's historic significance and claiming that the money spent on asbestos remediation prior to the demolition could be better spent elsewhere.
However, when these projects include restoration, new construction often ensures that historic buildings survive, even if their primary use changes. For example, Walsh Construction is converting the 102-year-old historic Cook County Hospital in Chicago into a Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotel, as well as adding medical space and a museum dedicated to the building's history. As part of the $1 billion redevelopment, Walsh must restore the structure's Beaux Arts façade.
- San Antonio Express-News City Council approves major overhaul of Alamo Plaza
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter