Dear Friends and Media,
In 2014, River Oaks Properties, led by Adam Frank, demolished five historic buildings at the southwest corner of Mesa and San Antonio. The buildings had been constructed between 1896 and 1902 and acquired by River Oaks Properties between 1994 and 2007.
There has been a vast empty lot on the site every since.
Paul Foster (Mills Plaza Properties) acquired the lot in 2017. He also purchased the 10,276-sq.-ft. building adjacent to its south border, at 113 S. Mesa Street, which had an appraised value of $678,183. Its last tenant had been Anny’s Fashion.
Built in 1967, the groovy-looking midcentury modern structure would have been a “contributing” building within the future Downtown National Register Historic District, and thus tax-credit-eligible for restoration. In fact, it is listed on the draft nomination that was just unanimously approved by the State Board of Review of the Texas Historical Commission.
On September 11, 2020 a demolition permit was issued by the City at a cost of $4.08. (Some years earlier, the City made downtown demolition permits free for ten years in order to facilitate revitalization). The building was torn down in late 2020. I have attached photos of the demolition site by Marcos Rey, dated December 31, 2020 and January 10, 2021.
As far as I know, no archaeological survey was conducted, since none was required.
Mr. Foster now owns an empty lot that is approximately 32,000 square feet, since it combines the 2014 empty lot with the one that was just created (see the attached satellite view). So far, he has not acquired any properties around its perimeter, so we assume that no more demolitions are imminent.
I do not know what Mr. Foster’s plans are but I hope that he will build something beautiful that will complement the majestic Trost buildings that stand across from the lot. His rehabilitation of three downtown Trost buildings was exemplary; and although I do not like what his new parking ramp did to the view down San Antonio Avenue and I do not agree with him that an entire historic neighborhood should be flattened for a multipurpose sports arena, he deserves a lot of credit for his preservationist projects.
The media often fails to cover downtown demolitions, including mass demolitions, but I like to follow these things.
Enjoy your day.
Max Grossman, PhD
Board of Directors, Preservation Texas
Vice-Chair, The Trost Society
Co-Chair, Restore Sacred Heart Church