|Port San Antonio Update
Work extending 36th Street into the heart of Port San Antonio advanced briskly this summer and current phases are on schedule to be completed in 2012. The project creates a new road extending from Highway 90 into the heart of the Port at Billy Mitchell Blvd. Besides improving connectivity, it will enable extending a taxiway at Kelly Field and developing 150 acres for new air-served facilities, including hangars and workshops.
The 36th Street project is a true local, state and federal partnership—and with good reason. The land for new aeronautical facilities will support an additional 8,000 future jobs once fully developed, according to a study conducted by the SABÉR Research Institute.
The project kicked off in 2010 thanks to $15 million awarded by the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that completed funding for current phases. The City of San Antonio’s Capital Improvements Management Services Department is overseeing the effort. Project partners San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and CPS Energy will move and upgrade water and power infrastructure, including the relocation of a substation and power lines out of the way of the future taxiway. Furthermore, throughout the month of August, SAWS oversaw the step-by-step demolition of an obsolete water tower on the land to be developed.
And in August the long-term vision of the 36th Street extension received a boost when the Federal Highway Administration provided $1.7 million in funding to construct a future phase extending the road from Billy Mitchell Blvd. to General Hudnell Road—improving access for thousands of workers. The funding also supports long term plans for an emerging regional trade corridor that includes SH 151 to the north and in time will extend beyond the Port and to I-35 to the south. The corridor will unite the fast growing northwest part of Bexar County and economic generators to the south, including Port San Antonio, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Toyota.
Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, long an advocate for Port San Antonio, provided instrumental support to secure the latest funding for the 36th Street project. “This award represents the people of San Antonio’s willingness to come together in order to reinvest in our community and create jobs,” he said. “Once again, San Antonio has shown itself to be an example of how communities can overcome economic hardships through a commitment to collaboration. Congratulations to everyone involved with this great project.”
A newly launched website, www.KellyHeritage.org, chronicles 100 years of milestones on the land which is today Port San Antonio. In addition to recounting a history that begins with the 1917 collaboration between the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and military officials to acquire farmland on which Kelly Field was first built, the site has many interactive features. Users can access numerous historic photographs and videos.
Furthermore, www.KellyHeritage.org offers access to a five-part radio series produced by Texas Public Radio featuring interviews with former Kelly workers and community leaders who were part of the legacy of the former base. The website also features a photo gallery where members from the community—particularly former Kelly workers or their families—can submit images that recount personal stories connected with the former Air Force base.
“This website is a powerful reminder of how important this place was, is and will continue to be to the community,” said Clara Ernst, Port San Antonio’s Vice President of Administration, who worked at Kelly Air Force Base from 1967 to 1973. “It’s a great way to reconnect with our history and help preserve it for future generations.”
Port San Antonio was again recognized as one of the region’s leaders in sustainable construction and property management. In September the Port was singled out as the Public Sector winner as part of the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2011 Going Green Awards. The honor recognizes the way in which the Port, which is the region’s largest commercial real estate management and leasing organization, has made sustainability an important part of its redevelopment of the 1,900-acre property.
In recent years two Port San Antonio buildings were certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In 2009 the Port’s 29,400-square-foot headquarters became the first property in San Antonio to be LEED Gold certified under the commercial interiors category. The following year an 84,000-square-foot office building the Port upgraded for longtime customer ACS, A Xerox Company, was certified LEED Silver. Among their features, both properties have low consumption water and electric fixtures; occupancy detectors to optimize lighting and interior temperature levels; and saw most of the unused materials from their respective constructions go to recyclers rather than ending up in landfills.
This year’s award also recognized the Port’s significant landscaping accomplishments. The Port encompasses hundreds of acres of grass and thousands of plants and trees. In 2010 the Port’s in-house team recycled 16,500 cubic yards of grass trimmings, leaves, branches and other organic material into compost to be used at the Port and elsewhere in the city. Furthermore, water-saving measures, including drip irrigation along flower beds, saved a quarter million gallons last year.