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enior Vice President & Director of Research at REOC San Antonio

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Balcones Heights could become Greater San Antonio’s “Miracle Mile”

plans and maps on the tableMost people who remember what Balcones Heights was like in the 1960s likely believe its best days are long gone, but city leaders there have big plans for Northwest Side community, all but swallowed up by San Antonio. Those plans include transforming a key stretch of Fredericksburg Road, one of the region’s more historic roadways, into a more vibrant corridor.

“The city is transforming itself from a suburb, which is what it was designed to be 50 years ago, into an urban center,” said Lorenzo Nastasi, director of community initiatives for the city of Balcones Heights.

This is not your typical suburb. Roughly 80 percent of the approximately one-square-mile area, incorporated nearly 60 years ago, is occupied by commercial space, with only 20 percent left for residents. Much of that commercial development shows signs of wear and tear from time and neglect.

The seeds for change were planted in 2009, when the city of Balcones Heights completed what Nastasi characterizes as a “very aggressive” master plan for the community. That project came on the heels of a previous effort by the Coalition for Fredericksburg Road Economic development, or C-FRED, a group Balcones Heights helped create, to seek out new economic opportunities for the corridor. Nastasi was part of that effort.

The city’s plan is centered around transportation-oriented development.

VIA’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line passes through the heart of Balcones Heights. The public transit authority is currently working with Balcones Heights officials and with owners of Wonderland of the Americas mall on a mixed-use project that would include new residential and retail components, as well as a new transportation center to support VIA’s BRT. Such a project would bring new curb appeal to a key section of Fredericksburg Road, and Balcones Heights officials believe it could also spur additional development activity.

“We are banking on a lot of the promises of BRT,” Nastasi said, explaining that the planned project is at a point where the participating parties are now “negotiating terms.”

NRP Group LLC has already bought into the vision for Balcones Heights. The company is developing a new residential project on city-owned land near the Fredericksburg Road corridor called Balcones Lofts. Nastasi said its the first new multi-family construction in the city in more than three decades.

 

“My goal is to turn it into (Greater) San Antonio’s ‘Miracle Mile,’ ” said Nastasi about Balcones Heights.

Click to read entire article: Balcones Heights could become Greater San Antonio’s “Miracle Mile” (San Antonio Business Journal, 09-25-15)

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