Vision for the Alamo Plaza

Vision for the Alamo Plaza

Photo: John Davenport – San Antonio Express News

The City Council spoke favorably Wednesday of a master plan process for Alamo Plaza that could lead to an unprecedented upgrade to the historic mission and battle site.

During a work session, council members encouraged a 21-member panel of residents and the city staff to keep pushing forward and carefully coordinate with the state on creation of a “premier visitor experience.”

But council members Shirley Gonzales and Joe Krier cautioned Lori Houston, director of the Center City Development & Operations Department, to keep the Texas General Land Office, which oversees the state’s Alamo complex, engaged in the process, especially with a new land commissioner taking office in two months. The Land Office has created a nonprofit foundation that is raising funds for a visitor center in or near the plaza.

The Alamo Plaza Advisory Committee has met for more than five months to develop goals for a plaza master plan. Councilman Diego Bernal, who is co-chairman of the panel, has said a plaza upgrade could be funded with up to $22 million redirected from the recently scuttled streetcar plan and a 2017 bond package. The council is expected to adopt the panel’s work Dec. 11.

The city will hold a competitive process to find a design and consulting team best qualified to complete a master plan in mid-2016, with recommendations on buildings, streets, open spaces and other design elements to attract more visitors. Although the state complex includes the mission-era church and Long Barrack, the adjacent city-owned plaza sits on land that was the focal point of a 1700s mission, American Indian burial ground and the epic 1836 siege and battle.

Bernal said the committee, whose members include representatives of the Land Office and private interests around the plaza, seeks a plan that acknowledges “every stripe” of culture with ties to the site.

 Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has said he envisions a visitor center opening by 2020 to house artifacts, including more than 200 recently donated by rock musician and Alamo enthusiast Phil Collins. The Land Office has not determined a cost for the facility.

Alamo devotees have long said the site needs more exhibit space. Some have suggested a visitor center be built in the Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building on the plaza’s north end, one of the historic structures on its west side or on a 9,122-square-foot cul-de-sac along …….more here. 

By Scott Huddleston

Staff Writer | San Antonio Express-News

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