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The Flats at Big Tex: A former granary gives character to a contemporary housing development.

New buildings draw inspiration from previous and retained industrial structures on site.
Serrated building form echoes the skyline of old granary silos on site.
Blue Star Street, festively lit.
Half a mile of the west bank of the San Antonio River.
Stoop-served units on Blue Star Street.
The public trail project and the private development were designed simultaneously and coordinated.

Big Tex sidles up to the San Antonio River ecosystem restoration project, one of two major expansions to San Antonio’s famed River Walk. The buildings offset along the bend in the river, affording city skyline views. It energizes almost a half mile of reclaimed industrial acreage, transforming the site into prime riverbank real estate for apartments and restaurants. The Flats at Big Tex are directly adjacent to the Blue Star Arts Complex, a downtown draw.

In the Southtown Arts District adjacent to the historic King William neighborhood, three- and four-story buildings straddle Blue Star Street on a challenging site to create a rich urban experience that is linked to a hike and bike trail through a series of plazas and courtyards. The former granary’s iconic silo structures: retained artifacts from its agricultural and industrial days, mark the project indelibly on the city skyline. The rhythmic forms and material composition of the existing silos and massive legacy structures are echoed in the corrugated metal and locally made D’Hanis brick facades of the new buildings.

NRP Group
San Antonio, Texas
500,000 SF / 336 units
Completed 2016

Sawtooth “silos” above the Eagleland Bridge in this trail-based development.

The project is situated on a bend in the San Antonio River opposite the river-facing side of the King William neighborhood, on the site of an abandoned granary, which for decades had been a nuisance and eyesore. Naturally, while redevelopment was desirable, an infill project of this size drew local attention. We recognized the sensitivity of the project’s impact, and worked to overcome numerous challenges during the extended predevelopment process.
Our engagement included the untangling of multiple public, semi-public, and private parcels, easements, and rights of way to develop a trail alignment at the top of bank and a tuning-fork shaped development site on a long dead-end street. Incorporating more than 40 unique unit types to maximize the yield of the highly irregular site required meticulous due diligence toward code variances.

Our ultimate reward for investing time and care is a project that is completely at home in the neighborhood – always a key goal. The development honors memory and embraces the “now;” a sense of nostalgia through preservation of iconic artifacts, balanced with a contemporary design expression and set of amenities. Its location at the Mission Reach hike and bike trailhead gives easy access to the outdoors. Important as well, Big Tex is a desirable option in the competitive housing market in downtown San Antonio.

The Flats at Big Tex provides a wide range of living accommodations and proved the viability of development along San Antonio River south of Downtown.

Irby Hightower, FAIA

Project Team

Consultants

Structural | United Structural Consultants, Inc.
MEP | EN, Inc.
Civil | Bury + Partners
Code/Life Safety | PDI
Landscape Architect | TBG Partner

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