San Antonio approves $450M Alamo redevelopment project

1854 drawing of the Alamo mission. Public domain image

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The San Antonio City Council approved a $450 million redevelopment plan for the Alamo, marking a new chapter for the nearly 300-year-old site.

The council voted for the proposal on Thursday, signing off on disputed changes, including moving the 1930s Cenotaph memorial, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The vote comes after months of debate by city officials and residents over elements of the redevelopment plan, such as closing streets to vehicle traffic, moving the Cenotaph, and using fences or barriers to control public access.

The council approved a 50-year lease that gives the Texas General Land Office management and control of the plaza. Other changes include building a museum.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the decision “a turning point that finally gives the Alamo the reverent treatment it deserves.”

The Alamo, a former Spanish mission that was the site of an 1836 battle between Texas settlers and Mexican troops, is the state’s most visited historic landmark. Funds for the redevelopment are from the city and state, as well as the Alamo Endowment.

Sherry Driscoll, director of education at the Alamo, urged the council to approve the plan, particularly controlling public access to the plaza. She said many regular visitors to the plaza, such as street preachers, interrupt and detract from her efforts to share the plaza’s multilayered history.

Opponents such as San Antonio Conservation Society President Susan Beavin lamented the loss of open space.

“The proposed limitations on access convey the opposite message” of the Alamo as a symbol of freedom, she said.

Alamo Cenotaph Memorial with William B. Travis and Davy Crocket shown in foreground, left and right respectively. Image by gillfoto, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Officials said construction could begin in 2020. Immediate next steps include fundraising, hiring an architect to design the museum and developing a repair plan for the Cenotaph, which would be moved 500 feet (152 meters) south.

“We’re not trying to get rid of any traditions whatsoever,” said Councilman Roberto Trevino. “We’re simply trying to reveal more history.”

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com

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