Fans of the Boehler House's iconic lean can rest easy for now. The Historic and Design Review Commission denied the motion to relocate the former Liberty Bar as applied for by Bill Shown, managing director of real estate for Silver Ventures, the developers behind the Pearl complex.
The item, initially slated within the Commission's consent agenda was pulled out for individual review, which allowed citizens-to-be-heard to air their grievances and concerns or raise questions on the proposal.
Shown did clarify his initial indication of turning the space at 328 E Josephine into a parking lot, citing that it would be an immediate solution and not longterm use for the space.
"That said, it could take us months to deliberate and figure out in our minds the highest and best use for the site and the neighborhood," Shown said.
Debbie and Courtney King, great and great-great granddaughters of Fritz Boehler, the original owner of the home, spoke on the home's history and their opposition against relocating the home, even if the Pearl kept the iconic lean. They also expressed concerns over the still unknown area the smaller home would be relocated to, which the applicant hadn't specified.
Jody Williams, first Vice President of the San Antonio Conservation Society shared President Sue Ann Pemberton's written comments on the matter, citing Chapter 35 of the City's Unified Development Code which encourages the reuse of existing buildings. Williams went on to note that the Society's support of relocating a historic building is a last resort to save the facility.
When Shown was asked to address citizens' questions he, again, referred to the Pearl's commitment to thoughtful preservation and celebration of the area's history, making sure to distance himself from any, and I quote, "Disney-esque" connotations. He also cited the Granary 'Cue & Brew, a building that was relocated about 60 feet from its original location with the Commission's approval.
The difference, of course, is that The Granary was moved 60 feet as opposed to a block and a half, and it wasn't dissected to accommodate said relocation, which would be the case if the former Liberty Bar were to make that leap.
Commission members each noted the complex's mission of preserving history but most expressed concern over what the move would mean for the building's history and its relationship with Josephine Street Cafe, the still unknown purpose for either building if they were relocated, and unknown plans for the current space, which Shown basically argued was an industrial eyesore of car-centric Josephine and US 281.
While the motion to deny the building's relocation passed, HDRC chair Tim Cone suggested a motion to approve the relocation of the second, smaller house, when a location is determined for it, which Shown agreed to.
Courtney King and boyfriend Erik Larkin, former bar manager for Boehler's Bar & Grille, said they were happy with today's outcome.
"The main building is going to stay at the forefront of the Pearl when you exit from 281," King said. "They're going to end up with the building in the long run," King said.
For now, the future of Minnie's Tavern is still unclear.
“Our team is regrouping to assess the situation now that we have a determination from HDRC. We will make the decision about whether to proceed with the purchase of the property over the next few weeks," said Elizabeth Fauerso, chief marketing officer for the Pearl, over email.