South Side hopes never materialized
Owners of land around Texas A&M declared in default over agreement
It’s been described as “one of the best development opportunities Texas has seen in decades.”
Yet the 1,825 acres — on which hopes for a planned mixed-used development surrounding Texas A&M University on San Antonio’s South Side have been pinned — has remained relatively undisturbed for years.
More than 5,700 residential units and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial space have been approved to be built on the land, but all that’s there now are acres of trees, brush and cacti, along with roaming cows in the shadows of the college.
The lack of activity led the city of San Antonio in August to declare owner Verano Land Group in default under a development agreement. The city said Verano has not kept to a construction timeline spelled out in the agreement.
“We are unhappy and disappointed that this hasn’t followed the timeline,” said Verónica “Vero” Soto, director of the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department. “We know we need economic development in that area, and we know we need the housing in our city.”
For its part, Verano is trying to find a buyer for the proper- ty. The developer, which has owned the property for about 12 years, put the land up for sale in 2014 before deciding against selling. It’s now flipped-flopped again and put it back on the market.
“We are talking to at least three or four different groups that have, in our judgment, the capability to provide the city with development down there,” said Joe DeSimone, a Verano general partner, in Hendersonville, Nev.
“We’re not master-plan developers in Texas,” DeSimone said of the owners, who in- clude some investors who made their fortunes in Nevada’s gaming industry. “We think there’s probably betterqualified people who will add more value to the community.”
Verano is hoping to line up a buyer in the first quarter of next year. An asking price for the land has not yet been determined, DeSimone said.
The delays are raising longterm concerns for college officials, who have been anxiously awaiting housing and shops to help attract more students. The school has about 6,700
A cow stands in the foreground on land owned by Verano Land Group Land on San Antonio’s South Side.
The lack of commercial development around Texas A&M-San Antonio is a point of frustration for the college, said Bill Spindle, its vice president for business affairs.