Signed, sealed, delivered
This week’s journalistic peregrinations confirm that you might disappear an entire building in the right paperwork. A lobbyist here, an outgoing director there, and ala-kazaam! Another lot cleared for a strip center, a Walgreen’s — maybe a nail salon and shoeshine for the employees of American Payroll Institute, aka the current owners of the former 1929 Jorrie Furniture Building at 131 San Pedro Avenue. API declines to say for sure, because they are just the bearer of what in this case is a particulary messy, heavy, and, to some, unwelcome bit of news: Yes, they bought and scuttled it, but soon-to-be-owner Wade Interests will remake it.
Like the Queque, your affection for the empty hulk at San Pedro and Quincy might stem from Anton Vidokle’s 2005 Artpace installation, which blanketed the faded pink tin panels with colorful geometric shapes derived from obsolete corporate logos. (Sleep on that, API.) Or maybe you’ve rubbernecked at the sort-of-neoclassical plaster reliefs — the work of Kelwood architects, designers of the Aztec Theatre and the Landa Library — revealed when those ’60s-era modernizing panels were peeled off.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see another historic building torn down,” said the Conservation Society’s Marcie Ince.
Almost as heartrending as seeing due process subverted by the lobby class. Although outgoing SA Preservation Officer Ann Benson McGlone says the owners were told their recent purchase was likely historic, meaning a trip to the Historic & Design Review Commission, they hired a lobbyist and went straight to former Planning Director Emil Moncivais, who pulled the equivalent of a midnight presidential pardon. “It was just built like a rock,” lamented McGlone. “There was nothing wrong with it at all.”
McGlone shares a few more choice words on the demo process in the MashUp
Laying a golden egg
Now that the Venue Tax has been safely extended by the voting bloc, the City is free to discuss its plans for the River Bend and Rivercenter Mall and HemisFair extensions. Or: the parts of the River Walk actually used by tourists, which will be improved upon with monies from the 2007 bond, lease revenues, and the capital-improvements fund rather than, uh, tax monies from the hotel and car-rental industries. Three million of the expected $15-million bill for decorative-
cement maintenance, retaining-wall retainers, and electrical-panel upgrades is already accounted for, despite our prospective ’09 budget hole, although, says Downtown Psy-Ops Paula Stallcup, “I think, like all of our other requests, it’s important to work with the Budget Office” etc. etc. (insert language to your liking that suggests with a term-limited City Council and people who’ll sign off on a demo when they’re short-timing, you never know).
Since they’ll be paying for your new soccer fields and riverside run, the least you can do is forward www.sanantonio.gov to your regular out-of-town houseguests: that’s where they’ll be able to weigh in on the River Bend plans (as long as their suggestions are in keeping with the touristy nook’s WPA-era historical Hugman ambience) for the next 30 days or so. Stallcup says the timeline is end of summer for finalizing dreams; three to five years for realizing them. •