Thursday, August 18, 2022

Master’s graduate takes on new role in San Antonio’s continued growth

Master’s graduate takes on new role in San Antonio’s continued growth


MAY 3, 2021 — When David Robinson Jr. moved to Austin in 2011 to pursue his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin and then later New York City, he never thought he’d return to his hometown of San Antonio to play a part in the city’s vast growth and revitalization.

But he did.

In 2019, David moved back to the Alamo City to help launch Blueprint Local, an investment firm that focuses on leading investors to intentionally deploy capital with impact into their communities. While getting reacquainted with his hometown, he had the desire to learn more about urban planning and the public sector’s role in shaping urban environments.

“Having a strong downtown will be important for the future of the city and the future of our region.”

“When I started working in real estate, I started to learn more about urban planning as a field of study,” David said. “When I moved back to San Antonio, I was working in the private sector but really wanted to complement my private sector experience with an understanding of how government approached urban development. I was interested to see both sides of the table. How can we work together? How do public-private partnerships come together to build cities?”

Not long after moving back, David enrolled at UTSA to pursue a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and a graduate certificate in real estate finance and development.

“Because I was here in San Antonio and working, I knew I wanted to study locally,” he said. “I had been learning so much about UTSA and its Downtown Campus and was quite impressed. I thought it would be a great experience to study urban planning at a time when the school was going through this massive urban planning exercise with the downtown campus expansion.”

By studying urban planning, David said he hoped to get a more holistic view of real estate development. His interest in urban planning started when he learned about Google’s Sidewalk Lab initiative, an organization which works to improve urban infrastructure through technological solutions.

“They use technology to drive innovation and push forward the future of cities and urban living,” he said. “Their mission to develop the urban form in a sustainable and holistic way.”

However, David also credits his father and former San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson Sr. for serving as a real-life inspiration.

“He poured himself into the community. In his own way, he really has been doing some urban planning as well,” David said of his father. “He started a school on the East Side, called the Carver Academy. Since that school was built, there has been a lot that's changed on the East Side, and I think that school played a role in redefining how people looked at the area.”

Since starting his graduate studies at UTSA, David has been a Dwight. D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellow and member of a winning team for the CITE Big Rowdy Idea Competition. Recently, he was a Graduate Dean’s Choice Winner for the COVID-19 Transdisciplinary Team Grand Challenge for a proposal titled “Life Under COVID-19: Oral Histories of Small Businesses in the Historic Westside of San Antonio.”

David, along with students from the Alvarez College of Business and the College of Education and Human Development, proposed a project to collect the oral histories of small business owners in West Side San Antonio to better understand how they were affected by the pandemic.

After graduating from UTSA this month, he will apply what he’s learned in his role as Weston Urban’s director of parks and recreation, a job he took on last fall.

“Weston Urban is trying to create a vibrant downtown where people can see a future and a career for themselves,” David said. “We just opened up Legacy Park next to the Frost Tower, which I am overseeing. A lot of my focus has been developing programs for the park, coming out of COVID and making it a place where people want to be.”

With COVID-19 forcing a lot of downtown employees to work from home, David said he wants to create experiences that will encourage people to return to downtown.

“People might not need to be in the office five days a week, but as they do come back downtown, we want them to have positive experiences — whether it be from movie night at the park, or from a barbecue, or watching a Spurs game,” he said.


David added that he’s excited to be part of San Antonio’s growth.

“Downtown has been changing in a massive way. We had so many vacant buildings along the Riverwalk and surface parking lots, so to see new restaurants and businesses coming in makes me really happy,” he said. “There’s a lot of promise for the future. San Antonio and Austin are growing into a Metroplex just like the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so we have to start thinking about how are we going to accommodate that growth. Having a strong downtown will be important for the future of the city and the future of our region.”

Valerie Bustamante

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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