Lifestyle and Culture Attract Families Downtown

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by Lisa Y. Taylor

Like an experienced tour guide, 5-year-old Carson Uber knows where the red and blue downtown trolley lines go and tells out-of-town family all about the Alamo. For the last two years, his parents have raised him on a ground-floor apartment of the Cadillac Lofts, among the bustling streets of downtown.

The Ubers take the trolley to La Villita, Market Square and the Central Library and make the most of memberships at San Antonio Children’s Museum and the Institute of Texan Cultures.

“Living downtown puts you in the center of everything happening in the San Antonio area,” says Carson’s mother, Kristi Uber. “By foot, you can experience a festival or museum, have lunch or dinner at a restaurant, grab an ice cream on the River Walk

and then come back home. You never have to get in your car if you don’t want to.”

A residential renaissance combined with expanding cultural and recreational facilities is

giving families with children more reasons to call downtown home, says Ben Brewer, president of the Downtown Alliance San Antonio. According to the group’s data, 1,200 downtown apartment units have been built within the last three years, 800 are under construction, and another 1,000 have been proposed.

“In the near term, we are going to see more singles, empty nesters and young professionals moving into the downtown area,” Brewer says. “I also think that will evolve over time. Particularly with some amenities that will be built like the HemisFair

redevelopment or the new Children’s Museum, that we will see more families moving downtown.”

HemisFair Renewal

A pioneer in downtown living, Michael Berrier, and his wife, Suzanne Martinez, raised their two daughters in the historic Lavaca downtown neighborhood. In fact, their children were literally born in their stone home. Their girls attend college now, yet Berrier still cherishes the “rainwalks” they used to take.

“We would put on our slickers and walk along the downtown streets to the HemisFair and then to the river to see the rain and water moving,” says Berrier, who co-owns La Tuna downtown. “The river is an ecological wonder. It has egrets, kingfishers, Harris hawks, and of course, ducks.”

Across the street from the Lavaca neighborhood, HemisFair is poised to begin transformative redevelopment. Th e master plan of one of the first phases, the seven-acre Plaza de Artes features the expansion of the current playground and the installation of water elements, climbable art, a music garden and an archeological dig center with artifact replicas. Construction is pegged for completion in mid-to-late 2014.

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