San Antonio, Texas (2005)

Client: Silver Ventures


The historic Pearl Brewery, located along the San Antonio River in San Antonio, stood empty for many years after its closing in 2001. Silver Ventures, a local developer, purchased the site in 2002, and has developed an ambitious and innovative vision for the redevelopment of the brewery. The vision is to transform the Pearl Brewery site, and the surrounding neighborhood, into a mixed-use development that combines education and learning with an array of other uses, including residential, dining, culture, arts, shopping, and recreation venues. Today, Pearl Brewery is currently undergoing a transformation into an iconic cultural gathering place.

Silver Ventures hired Project for Public Spaces to lead a study investigating the economic viability of creating dynamic, civic oriented public spaces within a successful private development. Pearl Brewery’s public spaces will play a particularly important role in transforming the site into a major destination and a vibrant district that nurtures community and diversity, as they will host the many uses and activities planned for the new development.

PPS participated in a two-day design charette with the development team to generate ideas for proposed uses and activities, as well as the character of the public spaces in the new mixed-use development. The main ideas that resulted from this exercise focused on creating a village atmosphere with a human scale, preservation of historic structures, and creating a place that fosters arts, multi-cultural experiences, and learning. PPS used the results of the charette to create a program of activities, amenities to support those uses, and character for eight specific sites within the development.

PPS’ experience has shown that 80% of the success of any public space is dependent upon its management. With MJM Management Group, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in public space and facility management, PPS developed a management program for Pearl Brewery, which included recommendations for maintenance, security and hospitality, programming, marketing and promotion, commercial tenant management, and parking.

PPS also recommended creating a management entity that can meet the challenge of managing the rich variety of public spaces that Pearl will feature. Based on analysis of different types of management entities and case studies of successful public spaces, PPS and MJM determined that the most appropriate public space management entity is a not-for-profit organization, to allow for more flexibility and access to larger variety of funding sources.

As San Antonio Express News reported in 2006, the details the recent changes at Pearl Brewery and the steps towards implementing the vision to create a modern village with a strong sense of community.