A crowd of local officials and area residents and civic leaders gathered October 14 for the grand opening of the first phase of East Meadows apartments. It’s a mixed-income neighborhood on San Antonio’s Eastside, located at the former Wheatley Courts public housing complex. When the other two phases are done, East Meadows will have 412 total mixed-income housing units and will have added a BiblioTech to the neighborhood.
East Meadows is the result of a long-range planning process that included a $30 million federal Choice Grant award to transform the neighborhood. Wheatley Courts was one of the city’s oldest public housing developments. In its latter years, Wheatley Courts was a scene of constant crime and blight. Demolition on the complex began in September 2014. The third and final phase of demolition and abatement on the site started this past June.
The Eastside is the only community in the county to have received all four White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative grants: Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods, Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, and Promise Zone. East Meadows is designed to be a walkable, sustainable, intergenerational neighborhood with new homes that blend with its existing surroundings. All of East Meadows will offer 332 homes for families in one-to-four-bedroom garden apartments and townhouses, and 80 one- and two- bedroom homes in a building for seniors. The first phase, which is now open, consists of 215 total multi-family units. Construction in the first phase of East Meadows saw existing foundations crushed and recycled to create base material. Foundation steel rebar, doors and windows were salvaged and recycled. When the entire project is finished, all phases will comply with Build San Antonio Green sustainability requirements. The new community includes a 2-acre park. A mixed-use structure on Walters Avenue houses a BiblioTech, an all-digital public library that aims to bridge the literacy and technology gaps in low-income neighborhoods.
Officials attending the grand opening, such as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, spoke of East Meadows as having the potential for helping to transform the Eastside.
The San Antonio Housing Authority is a general managing partner on the East Meadows project, with the firm McCormack Baron Salazar serving as special limited partner and property manager.
East Meadows is part of a wider, longer-term vision that includes expanding SAHA’s existing mixed-income Sutton Oaks community and opening up some key land for commercial/retail development. In conjunction with this, there is a public/private effort underway to implement a Critical Community Improvements plan to add more green space, an urban farm, upgrade pedestrian and transit connectivity, and incentivize area small businesses to enhance their exteriors.