After more meetings with the city, several community leaders are now backing the Midtown Regional Center Area plan, which focuses on managing growth in neighborhoods, mixed-use areas and light industrial zones.
Midtown is one of several regional plans that form SA Tomorrow, the city’s long-range comprehensive plan that will guide future development.
The city’s Planning Commission unanimously voted May 8 to recommend approval of the Midtown plan. The City Council is considering the proposal in June.
“I did have concerns in the beginning about how input was being gathered. However, after expressing those concerns, I saw changes from the Planning Department, which I have appreciated,” said Tobin Hill resident Anisa Schell.
The guidelines cover 3.7 square miles outlined by interstates 10 and 35, Fredericksburg Road, U.S. 281, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Burr Road and Olmos Basin Park.
Specifically, the Midtown regional plan includes recommendations for communities such as River Road, Tobin Hill, Mahncke Park and Five Points.
While crafting the overall SA Tomorrow plan, residents in these and other neighborhoods, such as the Monte Vista Historic District and Alta Vista, raised concerns about whether their own planning efforts would be left out of the process.
City leaders assured residents that neighborhood visions are part of SA Tomorrow, and their issues would be addressed.
Prior to May 8, commission member Cherise Rohr-Allegrini worried there had not been enough engagement between the city and residents regarding regional plans under SA Tomorrow.
Following the May 8 meeting, Rohr-Allegrini said support from community members gave her more confidence to back the Midtown regional plan.
“This is why community input is critical,” Rohr-Allegrini said. “I know these plans have gone through extensive community outreach, but I also know they sometimes don’t reach enough and many times voices don’t get heard. So, hearing from community members that they support it and why they support it helps me to be more confident of a ‘yes’ vote.”
Schell showed support for the plan on the Tier One Neighborhood Coalition Facebook page. The coalition includes Midtown and other urban core neighborhoods. “I like the plan. Overall, it matches up with the Tobin Hill neighborhood plan,” she added.
Criticism of the regional planning process has decreased, but some residents have expressed worry over individual issues of future land use outlined in the plan.
For example, two property owners convinced the Planning Commission to amend the Midtown plan to change a handful of lots they own on East Euclid Avenue to regional mixed-land use to better link with neighboring lots that already had the same designation.
Under the Midtown plan, neighborhood areas contain mostly quiet, stable, low- or medium-density residential communities.
Mixed-use areas support office, retail, service and recreational spaces.
Neighborhood mixed-use, involving smaller buildings, are concentrated along North Flores and North St. Mary’s streets, McCullough Avenue and Ashby Place.
Higher-intensity mixed-use remains along parts of San Pedro Avenue and lower Broadway.
Middle intensity, or urban mixed-use, is proposed for much of Main Avenue, Fredericksburg Road and other areas along Broadway.
An employment/flex mixed-use category is used along most of the San Antonio River in this region, creating a blend of places involving light fabrication, studio spaces, residences and small offices.
The light industrial area is in a neighborhood around the I-10/Fredericksburg Road intersection.
Karen Bishop, sustainable watersheds program leader for the San Antonio River Authority, told the Planning Commission that SARA backs the Midtown plan.
“The River Authority supports the plan’s vision and goals, in particular those that achieve multiple community health and sustainability goals such as using trees, landscaping and stream restoration to clean water, reduce flooding, make great public places, increase walkability, reduce urban heat, and leave a great legacy downstream,” she added.