Q: Why does the recent Lone Star Brewery announcement sound unbelievable?

A:

Here are the articles in question regarding the planned redevelopment of the historic (and second) Lone Star Brewery just south of King William in San Antonio:

http://www.plazadearmastx.com/index.php/business/101-news/2196-a-new-plan-for-lone-star-just-in-time-for-cchip

http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/article/Lone-Star-site-in-contract-3650212.php

I’m all for this happening, but there’s a few things in there that just plain don’t pass the smell test.  Here’s some quotes from the developer.

Red Flag #1 (quote from mysa.com):

The preliminary plans for the property are for a $60 million mixed-use development incorporating about 700 residential units that could be a mix of apartments, condominiums and townhomes, about 30,000 square feet of commercial space, a hotel and beer gardens, Readyhough said.

$60 million?  Really?  That number sounds at minimum, very high and very ambitious.  

Red Flag #2 (quote from mysa.com):

The company is seeking incentives from the city and county and could seek a Housing and Urban Development grant, Readyhough said.

Translation: “We need subsidies to make the economics work.”

Red Flag #3: (quote from Plaza de Armas):

Smith says his company plans to close by the end of summer and break ground immediately thereafter.  “We’re in good shape,” he said. “Ready to go.”

Perhaps this comes down to how one defines immediately, but $60mm developments (even those that are pipe-dreams) don’t get planned, architected, engineered, shopped through the various governmental entities for handouts, and bid in a few months.  

Red Flag #4: (my research only):

The economics don’t work for a project there yet.  Because it’s so cheap to build in the suburbs with little or no hassle from historic/city/neighbors and rents remain low because the City and Federals subsidize housing, rents don’t justify this development. Every rental project in Southtown in the past three years has needed HUD or City money to make it work.  Every single one.  

In the case of the only similar project in San Antonio during the past decade, Kit Goldsbury’s Silver Ventures continues to bleed money at the Pearl.

My conclusion, sad as it may be, is that this iteration of the newest for Lone Star redevelopment is a pipe dream.  I hope I’m wrong, but the signs say the opposite.

Michael Girdley