Austin-based Argyle Residential is approaching the end of the permitting process for a new 327-unit, five story multifamily apartment complex in downtown San Antonio: Heritage Plaza.
The developer takes the final step this week, requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness from the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission, before site permits can be pulled. Their request is on the commission’s consent agenda for today.
The residential structure has a wrap-around design that reaches a height of 64 feet, 4 inches, and is attached to a five-story parking garage. It is located on the 300 block of Dwyer Avenue and the 400 block of the parallel street, South Main Avenue. This residential community is oriented for frontage on all four boundary streets: Dwyer and South Main Avenues, and Stumberg and Old Guilbeau Streets.
The block, known as Heritage Plaza for decades, was named for the complex of office buildings that occupied the site since the mid-20th century. Those structures were demolished earlier this year.
Argyle Residential, the developer, retained the Heritage Plaza name for the new development, which is being designed by GFF Architects. In 2014, City Council worked with a different developer in order to create a mixed-income community, but the deal feel through because downtown prices were too high to provide any affordable housing.
According to the site plan, the project will be a mix of efficiencies, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, also including a garage structure on the south end of the block with access from Old Guilbeau Street. There will be a courtyard with a pool occupying the center of the block.
The proposal was reviewed by the commission’s Design Review Committee in March. The committee made comments at that time concerning scale, massing and the building’s relationship with a historic property facing Dwyer Avenue. Built in 1910, the historic site located at 315 Dwyer Avenue is a city-owned two-story home that is presently used as The Law Offices of George A. Scharmen.
The historic house is in the middle of the block, and the new development surrounds it on three sides. The committee felt that architects should borrow more design features and materials from the historic building, adding more variation across the entire length of the facade by altering heights and finishes.
“Allow more visual thru-way behind the historic property,” the committee added.
The above schematic for the east elevation facing Dwyer Avenue shows how GFF stepped down the building’s height to 35 feet around the historic property, eliminating the fifth and fourth stories and installing rooftop patios to either side above the third floor. There is also a wide entrance south of the historic building that leads into the community’s courtyard. The building does have significant variation in the facade — the exterior appearance on the southern half, most apparent from Old Guilbeau Street, differs so much it appears to be two separate apartment buildings.
Most of the perimeter will have 72-inch-wide sidewalk and street trees spaced every 30 feet on center. Apartment units north of the garage will be two deep, separated by an interior corridor. The units wrapping around the garage are arranged single file, but align with the same interior corridor.
Argyle Residential is primarily active in Austin, but the company also has projects in Dallas and Denver, Colorado. In San Antonio, the firm also built the Rivera on Broadway at 1130 Broadway Street, a mixed use residential/retail community whose main attraction is its proximity to the Pearl Brewery district. The Rivera is a four-story building that consists of 302 apartment units and 2,838 square feet of retail wrapped around a five-level parking structure.