Eastside effort

Developers snap up historic St. Paul Square property to create new San Antonio destination

Historic St. Paul Square to transform into new San Antonio destination

St. Paul Square San Antonio
The revitalization will cost more than $4 million. Historic St. Paul Square/Facebook

A San Antonio real estate company is giving a piece of San Antonio history a modern future. On October 3, the San Antonio City Council agreed to sell five buildings in the St. Paul Square Historic District, located on the city’s Eastside, to East Commerce Realty LLC.

The company, led by local real estate professionals Don Thomas, David Adelman, and Michael Jersin, paid nearly $1.76 million in the deal. The buildings, which are mostly occupied, add up to more than 38,000 square feet along Heiman and East Commerce streets.

At this point, East Commerce Realty isn’t revealing specifics about the estimated $4.54 million makeover of St. Paul Square. However, the firm’s executives vow to “make St. Paul Square a destination where San Antonians can live, eat, play, and shop that will bring more opportunities for economic prosperity … .”

According to City of San Antonio documents, the revamp of St. Paul Square and the Sunset Station event venue will include the creation of an outdoor green space with room for food, beverage, retail, and entertainment options; installation of a Spanish courtyard; restoration of fountains; and an upgrade of landscaping, sidewalks, and parking.

A company representative says it remains to be seen whether East Commerce Realty will buy more buildings around St. Paul Square. Every property acquisition helps “build and craft a curated brand for the district,” the representative adds.

With the October 3 deal, East Commerce Realty will own 12 buildings in St. Paul Square. Many of the other tenants in those buildings are bars and restaurants, including Smoke BBQ Brew Venue, Ash Basement Bar, Co-Founder Bar, Toro Kitchen + Bar, and Cellar Mixology. A Mexican restaurant and sushi bar are set to open soon in two of the spaces.

Aside from approving the sale of five buildings, the City Council on October 3 endorsed a redevelopment package for St. Paul Square and Sunset Station worth up to $1.325 million. This funding, granted through a mechanism known as a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, will pay for public improvements in the area.

“Historically, St. Paul Square has been a stagnant commercial, residential, and retail district. We want to change that perception and embrace the re-emergence of the district and the [Eastside] of San Antonio,” Thomas says in a release. “We plan to kickstart this growth with the rebirth of an outdoor concert venue, infusion of strong culinary and beverage operators, unique office tenants, residential expansion, and private partnership development.”

St. Paul Square, which takes its name from what’s now St. Paul United Methodist Church, dates back to the late 1800s, according to the City of San Antonio. The surrounding Eastside neighborhood has long been home to predominately been working-class and poor people of color, the San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside organization (SAGE) says, including a sizable African-American community.