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QueQue: H-E-B expanding downtown, Fear of Southtown loafing (times infinity), ICMA nods at SA, Casa Maldonado not so wretched?


H-E-B expanding downtown

The Brothers of Fallen Heroes were supposed to be providing a military salute at a fellow veteran’s funeral Tuesday night; it’s one of the principal duties of the four-year San Antonio nonprofit organization: free, respectful military send-offs, frequently including pall-bearer duties. Instead, Founder and President Bert Hernandez, served with an eviction notice earlier this month, was busily moving the South Flores office to a rented temporary building on his property north of Calaveras Lake. Yes, San Antonio: downtown is (perhaps) a step closer to getting its H-E-B.

Tenants of the Radio Jalapeño building (KEDA 1540AM), at 512 South Flores, were given 30 days to vacate by KEDA President Albert Davila due to a pending sale to H-E-B. “He caught us off guard. We’d been all over doing the July Fourth parades and all that stuff,” Hernandez said. “It kind of upset me when I got there and saw that paper there. From seeing it, it’s not even 30 days. It’s twenty-something days.”

Art at the Jalapeño, a monthly arts event organization now incorporating as a nonprofit, was celebrating their two-year anniversary when they got their notice, said Marketing Director Angel Ayala. “It was quite deflating to be thinking, ‘Hey we actually made it to two years,’ and then see that eviction notice.”

Assisted by sponsor Blue Moon beer, Art at the Jalapeño hopes to be relocated to the Tobin Hill area by this fall. Fallen Heroes aren’t so sure what the future holds.

“[Davila] had told me they weren’t going to do this until the end of the year. I said we’ll do a big event and we’ll have money to move out. Right now, all we have is $110 in the bank.”

While Davila did not respond to an emailed interview request, a station employee (who also promised to forward Que2’s message) said the radio station has more than 30 days to vacate. Or maybe they won’t have to at all. Despite the evictions, H-E-B spokesperson Dya Campos told the QueQue the sale hasn’t even gone through yet. “If we do acquire the property it will become an extension of our Corporate Headquarters,” she wrote in an email. Hernandez says the only thing stalling the sale is his exit.

The building sits beside the historic Commander’s House Park and just over the treeline from H-E-B’s corporate offices. Unfortunately, H-E-B officials would not return calls to either organization, which had been hoping for a chance to plead their cases for relocation assistance.

Fear of Southtown loafing (times infinity)

Evidently, the rumor mill’s been churning so violently down in Southtown that it’s finally spilled over into the courts. This month popular Southtown icehouse the Friendly Spot filed a petition accusing its next-door neighbors, owners of the Alamo Street Victorian Inn, of working in the shadows to malign the bar. Among the complaints, the Friendly Spot claims the Victorian’s owners have spread rumors via email that the bar hires sex offenders. The petition also asserts that Daniel and Robbie Boone, the Victorian’s owners, encouraged disgruntled neighbors to phone the police to establish “a pattern of complaints” against the icehouse.

Likely the most bizarre allegation in the five-page petition, filed July 14, is that the Boones attempted “to recruit volunteers to film children at the [Friendly Spot icehouse].”

A court hearing scheduled for Aug. 5 could determine whether the Friendly Spot can take sworn depositions and testimony from the Boones, along with owners of the nearby Gardenia Inn and a resident who lives behind the bar, all of whom are named in the petition filed this month.

“I can tell you no such email exists,” Robbie Boone said this week, flatly denying charges of rumor mongering or alleged plans to film the icehouse’s child patrons. “I mean, I think it’s really like a children’s birthday party, you know, where they play a game of telephone. … By the time it comes around the table, the story’s completely different from how it started.”

When contacted by phone about the court petition, Susan Elich, co-owner of the Gardenia, said only: “Sorry. We’re not going to talk about it.”

Friendly Spot attorney William Germany remarked, “What we’ve got here is just a nasty neighbor starting this rumor.”

Though he admitted he hadn’t seen the email, Germany insisted the document exists, and said Friendly Spot “agents” had seen the document — though he wouldn’t clarify as to who exactly qualifies as an “agent” of the icehouse. The petition states, “Petitioner became aware of the email on May 20, 2011, and despite its best efforts has been unable to procure a copy of the email.” It then goes on to say, “Petitioner’s agents have also received harassing phone calls in which employees are directly accused of being sexual predators since the initial email was published.”

Germany said he filed the petition in anticipation of a possible lawsuit.

ICMA nods at SA

Though some may quibble with Mayor Julián Castro’s insistence that San Antonio is the second largest city in Texas (thar’s metropolitan statistical areas, by gum!) and public targeting of national clean-tech dominance, the International City/County Management Association found our recent strides in sustainability worth spotlighting for the rest of the country.

After surveying more than 2,000 local governments in the United States, the ICMA selected the Alamo City as one of nine communities with progressive energy lessons for the rest of the nation. Included in the city profile in Breaking New Ground: Promoting Environmental and Energy Programs in Local Government are our efforts at reducing energy use through home weatherization outreach, energy rebates tied to tree planting, and investment in solar energy. Although we’re listed as the “only major city in the United States without a light rail or commuter rail system,” the authors of the study praised our growing investment in bicycle lanes and creation of a Bicycle Master Plan for the city.

 Casa Maldonado not so wretched?

Last month, when council unanimously cleared way for demolishing the now-famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Pink Building, Mayor Julián Castro couched his support in the expectation that the Avenida Guadalupe Association, who owns the building, alter their plan to further accommodate the wishes of groups determined to save the crumbling structure.

Now a small group, handpicked by the Avenida, is set for a marathon planning session Wednesday to finalize the designs for Avenida’s Promesa Project — Avenida’s planned 21,000 square-foot workforce training center and commercial office space. A total of 11 representatives get to vote on the final design for Wednesday’s meeting, two of which are from the Westside Historic Preservation group. Even though preservationists feel shorted by only getting two seats at the table (and repeatedly called Wednesday’s session a “charade”), they’re going into the meeting with ammunition they wish they’d had at the last council session, when their plans to save the building were all but shot down. Through an emergency grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the group commissioned an independent structural report on the building earlier this month — crucial, they say, because Ramirez and other Avenida representatives had repeatedly pointed to a report the Avenida commissioned in December saying repairs to the derelict building weren’t “structurally feasible.”

An analysis of structural engineer Patrick Sparks’ report suggests the total fix-up cost would run only $254,550. For much of the past six months, Avenida has said bringing the building up to code was either impossible or much too costly — floating estimates as high as $800,000 before council.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Gabriel Velasquez, an Avenida board member, suggested Sparks’ recommendations would only take the building to “stabilization,” not ready it for retail, which doesn’t jibe with the report’s plain recognition of “a plan to develop this property into retail space along with Class A office buildings to be built on the adjacent lots.” Still, Velazquez said the Avenida has “gone beyond the call of duty” with every step in the debate over the Pink Building’s fate, and that Wednesday’s meeting is meant to adhere to the mayor’s wishes to come up with an altered plan. “It’s going to be a session that looks at the Avenida’s proposal for that building and then looks at what can be done [to change it],” Velazquez said. “‘Proposal’ maybe isn’t the right word. I mean, it is our building.” •


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