It's sink or swim today for an ambitious plan to build two high rise buildings over the old Joske's flagship store at Commerce and Alamo in the heart of downtown, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"We envision building a 500 unit hotel and time share component," Mike Beucler of Dallas-based Beucler Development told 1200 WOAI news.
He says his plan will be faithful to the dynamic architecture of the Joske's Building, which, with it's famous storefront windows, housed the main branch of the iconic San Antonio based department store until the franchise was purchased by Arkansas based Dillard’s in 1987.
Many San Antonians tell of seeing television for the first time as curious viewers would stand ten deep at the Joske's windows on Commerce Street in the early 1950s watching display sets showing the first grainy black and white TV images. Joske's windows were also famous for their elaborate Christmas displays.
Beucler says his plans respect all of the history which is packed intro that building.
"I think we have done an excellent job of trying to continue with the turn of the century 'Art Deco' product which is on the turn of the century Joske's buildings," he said.
The plan is facing opposition from historic preservationists, however. They say the entire area around the Alamo is part of an historic district, and among the guidelines is a regulation limiting the height of buildings. The Commerce Street tower, which would include the hotel, would be 23 stories tall, while the time-share building, which would front on Alamo Street, would be lower.
Supporters of the building point out that the Emily Morgan Hotel and the 40 story Marriott Rivercenter are also within the 'historic district' and since they stand there, it would be unfair to limit the size of the proposed Joske's building. Both the Emily Morgan and the Marriott were built before the current regulations were in place.
Beucler says the plan is to add commercial property to the street level of the building, which would add to the excitement in the tourist-heavy eastern half of downtown.
"We will probably have some commercial in a very light amount," he said. "We will have some restaurants and other commercial space, but the majority of it will be residential."
Beucler says if the proposal is approved, the design phase would take four to six months. Then construction would begin, probably by the end of the year, with the building taking about two years to complete.
It would be the largest downtown construction project since the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and would provide long term work to hundreds of skilled construction craftsmen.