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City Investing in Preservation of Historic Neighborhoods

The city of San Antonio will use two events in October to help to improve a select group of homes in a historic district, and to offer improvement grants for commercial corridors.  More than 50 students from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Architecture and San Antonio College (SAC) architecture program have partnered to repair five homes in the King William Historic District.  The city’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) has agreed to work with UTSA and SAC to coordinate the Students Together Achieving Revitalization (S.T.A.R.) project. The King William Association is sponsoring the revitalization of five historic homes.  The houses are located at 204 Wickes, 1027 South St. Mary’s St., 430 E. Guenther, 635 Mission, and 126 Crofton.

Students working on STAR project
Students working on STAR project

The rehabilitation of these historic homes was scheduled to take place the first weekend of October. Volunteer contractors have been assigned to mentor architecture and construction science students as they would help homeowners with minor exterior repair and maintenance to their historic homes.  “This program is an innovative and proactive approach to prevent further deterioration of San Antonio’s local historic districts and spark revitalization,” said Shanon Miller, OHP director, in a news release.  “It’s also a great service learning opportunity for the students while assisting homeowners with projects such as siding repairs, window rehabilitation, yard maintenance and painting,”  Such home rehabilitation projects involving the city and architecture students are ongoing.

STAR Program Receiving grant from Wells Fargo
STAR Program Receiving grant from Wells Fargo

Additionally, the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development’s (PCD) Operation Facelift program will offer 10 façade improvement grants up to $20,000 in selected commercial corridors to help improve local businesses.  Business and commercial property owners in the corridors are invited to attend one of five information sessions offered in October to learn more about the grant program and pick-up an application.  Operation Facelift is designed to reverse the deterioration of commercial structures, promote consistency in design and create aesthetically pleasing and functional commercial districts.  “Since its launch in 1998, Operation Facelift has provided more than $1.4 million in grants to businesses in 21 target areas throughout central San Antonio, leveraging more than $126 million in private investment,” said John Dugan, PCD director, in a press release.  “We are very pleased to make available the Operation Facelift program to seven new target areas this year.”

Operation Facelift Past Project
Operation Facelift Past Project

The information sessions will cover program requirements and the application process. Businesses and commercial properties must be located within one of seven REnewSA target areas to apply for the grant.  The information sessions are scheduled for: 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at El Progreso Hall, 1306 Guadalupe; 8 a.m. Oct. 8 at San Antonio Animal Care Services, 4710 Texas Highway 151; 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at KIPP Academy, 731 Fredericksburg Road; 8 a.m. Oct. 15 at Straightline Management, 734 N. New Braunfels Ave.; and 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at Mission Events Center, 5614 S. Flores St.  The REnewSA target areas are Avenida Guadalupe, Edgewood, Five Points, Harlandale, Las Palmas, South San/Kindred and Wheatley. Interested individuals can view maps of the REnewSA target areas and register by visiting or calling 207-4686.

Operation Facelift provides grants up to $20,000 for façade rehabilitation on a reimbursement basis. There is no match required, but applicants must demonstrate they have invested in past property improvements and are providing a needed service to the surrounding community.  This kind of work typically includes replacement of store front glass, repair and painting of exterior walls, repair or replacement of canopies and awnings and repair or replacement of attached building signage.  Design consultation services are provided free of charge. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant.

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