Article Originally published by News4SanAntonio.com
SAN ANTONIO — After 13 years of delays, false starts and legal maneuvers, the effort to develop hundreds of acres around Texas A&M University San Antonio finally got a kick-start from City Council today.
SouthStar Communities of New Braunfels gained unanimous approval to buy and develop land from the Verano group. The project will consist of over 5,700 residential units.
The news was greeted enthusiastically by students.
"I think it's about time there's housing out here," says Erica Pons, a junior elementary education major who commutes about 25 minutes to campus each day. "It will be more appealing. It's exciting to see what this can turn into."
Emily Dzeyk, a senior education major who drives back and from from LaVernia each day, says the area could explode once the new housing is available in a couple of years.
"I think it would be really awesome for the students who have to commute," she says. "I have to drive like 35 minutes."
She is bullish on the potential for the campus to grow.
"They say this is going to be as big as College Station one day," Dzeyk says.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran is ecstatic about the development coming to the South Side. Just two months ago, she welcomed the news about truck manufacturer Navistar announcing plans for a new plant in the area.
Now it's housing for A&M-San Antonio, which currently has about 6,500 students.
"We are going to have condos. We're going to have townhomes. We're going to have single family homes and we're going to have apartments in that area," she says.
Retail will also be part of the project, which has been dubbed Vida San Antonio.
"Now this area is going to be just thriving and continuing to give new breath, new life if you will, to this whole area," Viagran says.
A press conference on campus to formally announce the project is scheduled for Friday. Council unanimously approved the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone assignment from Verano to SouthStar today.
Viagran says momentum is growing for development south of downtown.
"Nobody was telling the story of the South Side. I'm making noise loud and clear for everyone to say yes, this is the right time," she says. "We have gotten so much positive news on the southern sector. We knew that we were in a new era. We knew that we were going to change the narrative. Now we have these investors and people who are believing. To be able to really usher this and champion this has been an absolute honor."
"We have the land. We have the opportunity. We just need to be pro-active about it," she says. "Now people are coming in and saying yeah, this is a great area. That’s why they’re continuing to invest."