Great universities have one thing in common. They have an area right off campus, frequently known as 'the strip' which is packed with book stores, coffee shops, clubs, and other businesses which cater to students. Think Guadalupe Street, which runs just west of the University of Texas campus in Austin.
UTSA doesn't have a 'strip,' and northwest side Councilman Ron Nirenberg thinks it needs one.
Nirenberg has asked city officials to come up with a special type of zoning called 'university district' which would help steer private investment of campus oriented developments around UTSA's Main Campus on the city's northwest side.
"UTSA is an important economic, educational, and cultural asset for District 8 and the entire city," Nirenberg said. "The City of San Antonio should use every tool available to align our mutual goals. This will raise the profile of one of the nation's fastest growing and regionally successful universities."
The 'university district' zoning would also guarantee that college oriented business all locate in the same area around UTSA, and not spill into nearby residential neighborhoods.
Nirenberg says a 'strip' which would include amenities that would help attract students to UTSA, would also help the campus reach the coveted 'Tier One' level.
The addition of a commercial district is also a major divider between major destination universities, which have them, and commuter colleges, which don’t.
San Antonio has quietly become a higher education powerhouse, with 94,000 college students in the San Antonio area today, more than in Austin or College Station. That number is expected to jump to 127,000 in the coming decade.