San Antonio City Council is taking the long view in its attempt to shape the newly enlarged Hemisfair Park downtown for generations to come, 1200 WOAI news reports.
In an unprecedented move, Council has appointed a third party, the San Antonio Conservation Society, to sue a future council if necessary if that council attempts to rewrite restrictions limiting the number of hotels which can be built in the park.
"To enforce these deed restrictions in the years and years ahead, where the people who are sitting here today may not be around to assert their influence," City Attorney Michael Bernard said.
The process of 'binding' a future elected body is very rare, and is actually outlawed in the U.S. Congress.
Hemisfair Park will be expanded to 18 acres downtown under an ambitious plan which was unveiled last year and approved earlier this year by the State Legislature. The existing park will be expanded by demolishing the older portion of the Convention Center, the west half of the building at Alamo and Market, near the 'Plaza of the States' and extending the park north to Market Street. The park may also acquire the land currently occupied by the John Wood Federal Courthouse, the round 'Confluence Theater' building from Hemisfair 1968. The Justice Department plans to construct a new federal courts building on the site of the old San Antonio Police Department headquarters on Nueva Street. There is also talk of Hemisfair acquiring the Federal Building next to the courthouse, and even the Institute of Texas Cultures building on Bowie Street, but there have been no negotiations on those structures.
The restrictions council approved, over the objections of the San Antonio Hotel Motel Association, will severely limit the property to only so called 'boutique hotels' of fewer than a certain number of rooms, excluding the giant tourist hotels which line Market and Commerce Streets.
"A hotel building with guest rooms may not be located less than 300 feet from another hotel building with guest rooms," Bernard said.
The idea is to make sure the Park is used primarily by local residents, and does not become another haven for out of towners.
Mayor Castro hopes to have the new enlarged park open by 2018, when San Antonio will mark its 300th birthday.
By the way, the new park will simply be called 'Hemisfair,' not its current name of 'Hemisfair Park.' The reason for that? Developers did market research, and determined that people associated the word 'park' when it involves parks in cities, with homeless people, beggars, and vagrants.