Search
Close this search box.

“Breakfast taco diplomacy:” public engagement and Cedar Street Townhomes.

Townhomes on Cedar at Pereida Street greet the street with porches and front yards.
Porches and dormer windows draw from local vernacular.
Pressed steel shingles – legacy material, contemporary in context.
Pressed steel shingles – legacy material, contemporary in context.
Generous front yards provide a margin of privacy and green space.
The Cedar Street Townhomes’ garage access is off the main street.
Aerial model shows offset and opposed segments of the project.

“When an infill development involves a neighborhood you love, and literally grew up in, conversation with neighbors is Job One,” explains Jim Bailey, Alamo partner and project architect. “To start the conversation on Cedar Street Townhomes, our firm engaged in a two-year public process approaching fifty meetings of varying scale — sometimes as informal as breakfast tacos or coffee on front porches.”

As important as the architectural design process itself, our habit of actively listening to gather insight is a hallmark of how we work. Our sensitivity to the valid concerns of Cedar Street neighbors cultivated trust in the project, one-on-one and in public forums. The public engagement process we developed for this project proved so successful, the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation adopted specific techniques into their guidelines for new construction in historic districts.

Cedar Street Townhomes
San Antonio, Texas
35,907SF / 14 units
Completed 2019

Pereida Street block has a different exterior scheme from the Cedar Street block.
Pereida Street block has a different exterior scheme from the Cedar Street block.

The project of 14 townhomes at Cedar and Pereida Streets was ultimately approved by the City’s Historic and Design Review Commission with full support of neighbors, and neighborhood association. The design’s foremost intentions were to not only belong to but also contribute to its context. This meant understanding what components and elements make up the signature characteristics of the public realm in the King William district: from direct references such as material, color, and massing to social and cultural aspects such as the use of porches and yards.

The land value of the properties on Cedar Street demanded a maximum yield for development. Increasing housing density right in the middle of a well-established historic district would have to be reconciled with the genuine concerns of the immediate neighbors and the many strong voices for preservation in the community. “Our public engagement process – attention to the neighborhood, and respect for place – changed the consensus from what was initially “NO,” to “maybe,” and then, as the design evolved, into a strong “yes” of support,” Bailey recounts.

The architectural expression is different for the two segments of the project, a key uniqueness. The townhomes each “meet the street” in the same way, with porches and fenced parterres, but the exterior makeup of the Pereida Street block is completely different from Cedar Street. This strategy gracefully camouflages the new infill into the local fabric. This level of intentionality, and ability to be nimble with design solutions, keeps us top of mind for expert redevelopment architecture in historic urban settings.

Our public engagement process… changed the consensus from what was initially “NO,” to “maybe,” and then, as the design evolved, into a strong “yes” of support.

Jim Bailey

Project Team

Consultants

Structural | RSCR Engineers
MEP | KJ Engineers
Civil | Cude Engineers
Landscape Architecture | Stantec
Interiors/Lighting | Camille Chamberlain

Explore More Projects