International Downtown Association: San Antonio IDA Panel Report

By SA2020 | Dec 14 2010

San Antonio, TX
May 3-6, 2008

Introduction

Downtown San Antonio is a study in contrasts. The internationally renowned River Walk, one of the top tourist attractions in Texas and an asset to San Antonio’s convention business, is vibrant, attractive, and well-maintained. At the same time, street-level downtown San Antonio needs significant improvement to match the quality and economic contribution of the River Walk. New downtown apartment, loft and condo projects are beginning to give residents enticing reasons to consider living downtown; yet San Antonio lags behind several other Texas cities in delivering enough units to create a true “urban village.” Local residents take out-of-town visitors to downtown for an evening on the River Walk, but many avoid downtown because it is considered too congested, too touristy, and too difficult and expensive to park.

The City of San Antonio has recognized the challenges facing downtown and invited the International Downtown Association to convene a group of downtown experts in early May 2008, to assess current conditions and recommend organizational and governance changes in the management and leadership of downtown San Antonio. The IDA Advisory Panel convened on Saturday, May 3, and delivered preliminary recommendations on Tuesday, May 6, after an intensive series of meetings, interviews, tours and deliberations.

This report offers the City a number of options to consider in terms of a new organizational structure and mission; and recommends the option the panel believes will move downtown San Antonio in the desired direction most efficiently, most effectively, and with the broadest support of local leaders and citizens.

The report is divided into four sections:

A listing of observations by panelists concerning downtown’s current condition, attitudes and perceptions about downtown, and the challenges facing downtown leadership.

Findings and conclusions based on these observations.

Preliminary recommendations regarding the creation of a new governance, leadership and management structure for downtown.

An addendum listing panelists and the process.

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