San Antonio City Council members unanimously approved the $ 7.4 million allocation for the final phase of the Alameda Theater restoration project in a meeting Thursday.
Built in 1949, the Alameda Theater served as a premier Mexican-American entertainment venue before closing in the 1980s. Efforts to renovate the city’s property on West Houston Street have been underway since early 2020, but have met delays due to lack of funding and the coronavirus pandemic.
âEveryone uses the word iconic, but it’s literally an icon,â said city councilor Manny Pelaez (D8). âInvesting in this area is as important as investing in the Majestic Theater, investing in asset restoration in Hemisfair, making sure our Tour of the Americas is magnificent. â¦ That’s what big cities do. Big cities take care of their icons. Cities without icons aren’t that great.
The Alameda Theater Conservancy, which in the past led fundraising for theater-related projects, will oversee the operations of the theater once it is fully restored.
A city council committee pushed the proposal to the full council in September, but not without asking city staff to seek a commitment from the Alameda Theater Conservancy to pay theater workers a living wage, as well as ensuring that tickets for theater performances remain affordable for everyone. Veronica Garcia, director of the neighborhood services and housing department, assured council members on Thursday that these two issues had been resolved.
“There is a commitment from the conservation side to ensure that in addition to market prices, there will also be an aspect that includes free and low cost programming,” Garcia said.
The salaries of staff and contractors at the Alameda theater will be compared to the minimum living wage set by the city, which means that the theater’s minimum wage will change with that of the city, Garcia said.
Several board members thanked Garcia for making sure that community compensation and accessibility was a priority for the Alameda theater group.
“I am delighted to support this project and to see it come to fruition in 2023,” said city councilor Teri Castillo (D5).
The Houston Street TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) will provide $ 7 million for the final construction phase of the Alameda Theater restoration project. The city expects Bexar County to spend an additional $ 7 million on the project later this month, Garcia said. City Council approved another TIRZ funding of $ 400,000 to address environmental issues related to the project.
Councilor Clayton Perry (D10) expressed reservations about the price of the project, noting that the city had already spent millions since the purchase of the theater in 1994. According to Garcia, the total investment before the addition of 7 million dollars approved Thursday was $ 20.8 million. This figure includes the cost of purchase, repairs to ensure the stability of the building and the resolution of environmental problems.
âI understand the importance of this to the Hispanic community, but again, we’re dealing with taxpayer dollars here and I want to make sure I take a look at it and say, ‘Yeah, it is indeed necessary, “” said Perry.
He voted in favor of the fundraising, acknowledging that the support of the Houston Street TIRZ had prompted him to do so.
âIf TIRZ says they are ready to invest money in this facility, I will support it,â he said. âBut I would really love to hear that tone of, ‘That’s kind of it.’ We’re not going to be charged or continue to provide day-to-day operation or maintenance funds.
The theater sits on San Pedro Creek and is also attached to the new Texas Public Radio Headquarters. The radio station also contributed $ 5 million for the construction of its offices.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg reminded his colleagues that “what happens in downtown San Antonio reverberates throughout the city.”
âThere is one important project going on that we look forward to seeing completed that is historic, which is environmental, which is economic, and that is the San Pedro Creek project,â he said. “And that will be the jewel, the crown of the cove of San Pedro.”
City staff predict that construction of the Alameda Theater will be completed in 2023.