Placemaking is alive and well in San Antonio, Texas, where the city is building on their renowned River Walk to create new multi-use destinations for tourists and locals alike, including the newly re-opened Main Plaza. Phil Myrick reports on his recent trip to kick off work in San Antonio’s historic St. Paul Square District with Ethan Kent.

San Antonio is sometimes called the Venice of North America because of its beautiful River Walk

Phil Myrick

Just back from San Antonio, which is entering a very exciting stage of evolving its downtown. Through a series of game-changing moves, there is growing momentum to invest in quality of life changes that serve and attract residents,  from very large scale projects like the new Hemisfair Park downtown and multi-use destinations to the re-development of downtown districts to the newly reopened Main Plaza (PPS led the initial visioning process for this plaza, which was recently named by the APA as one of the Greatest Public Spaces in America).

San Antonio's New Main Plaza was recently named by the APA as one of the Greatest Public Spaces in America

This is an intentional shift in strategy toward elevating the city’s rich, authentic culture to serve its citizens first, rather than focusing on the tourist market. Although Riverwalk is one of the world’s great places, there is a general hunger among locals for more authentic places that are rewarding for locals.

Several private enterprises have been fulfilling those needs, including individual hangouts and districts that have grown organically, like Pearl Brewery, the subject of a 2005 PPS-led study to investigate the economic viability of creating dynamic, civic oriented public spaces within a successful private development, which has since become one of the most talked about places in the city.

This new momentum has a new intentionality coming from leaders in both the public and private sector. We are very very excited to see San Antonio joining a growing group of cities to take Placemaking and livability on as core strategies!

A rare but comfortable combination of bar and play area was a community anchor for the new dynamic King William District

By the way, anyone who visits should check out these places: Aldaco’s, Azuca, the Friendly Spot Ice House, and Pearl Brewery