The prospect of 10,000 more college students living and attending classes in and around UTSA’s Downtown Campus is akin to the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the film turns from black and white to color.
It’s a transformative and long-overdue vision for the uninviting mini-campus, encircled by a moat of busy vehicle traffic and stuck in the shadows of an elevated expressway on downtown’s near Westside. With the Bexar County Adult Detention Center and Annex and Bail Bond Row as its nearby neighbors, and the underpasses used for university parking also home to day laborers and street people, it’s no wonder that so few students attend classes there and so little urban renewal has occurred nearby.
As of last week, the 242-unit Vitré multifamily development at Cattleman Square first announced in 2014 by the project’s local partner, 210 Development, went to foreclosure and auction. There are indications a new partnership will soon be announced to resurrect the project, but the fact that the original project fell so short of expectations underscores the challenges developers face in crossing Interstate 35 to invest in the underdeveloped Westside.