idea is to 're-activate' familiar urban spaces
The City of San Antonio tonight will take the first steps toward the possible renovation and redesign of Alamo Plaza, using urban redevelopment concepts known as 'Better Block,' which aim to 'recharge' urban neighborhoods,' 1200 WOAI news reports.
The idea behind the 'Better Block' idea is that if exciting activities and attractions are added to a familiar urban environment, it will attract local residents and result in a more crime and blight free area, and will become more attractive for economic development.
The idea, according to Lori Houston of Center City Development, is to cut down on the often lengthy process of getting permits, environmental studies and construction needed for large scale urban renewal, and to conduct the operation 'better and faster.'
"We will doing some dining on the Alamo Plaza, some music, and some food vending," Houston said of this weekend's Better Block event, which gets underway tonight.
"There will be a scavenger hunt, we have food, nice music, a dinner in conjunction with the Chefs Coalition, and after that there will be a lantern tour," she said.
Houston said a special Alamo Plaza Self Guided Tour will be introduced, complete with a smart phone app, and QR codes on information cards available at the Convention Center office on Alamo Plaza. There will also be living history re-enactors, children’s hand-on activities, and small vendors. The entire event is timed to
Houston says the idea is to be long term changes to Alamo Plaza to make it more attractive to locals who are not just there providing tours to friends from Wisconsin.
She says the experimental weekend will including the closure of Alamo Street to enable dining, food trucks, and local craft beers, and other activities to take place on the Plaza, but she says the closing will only be for this weekend.
The event is timed to celebrate Davy Crockett’s 226th birthday. Crockett was born in rural east Tennessee on August 17, 1786.
"The street will be closed on Friday evening and Saturday morning," she said. "It will open back up. We are not expecting a permanent street closure."
But that could change. She says the basic design and flow of Alamo Plaza has not changed for nearly twenty years, and it would be a perfect area to under the types of low cost revitalization envisioned under the Better Block concept.
Better Block ideas are already being implemented on Lower Broadway, which is the scene of the city's successful Siclovia, and is currently seeing a renaissance, with new apartments and condominiums and small businesses opening in the area.
She says a third Better Block initiative is anticipated, probably on the West Commerce area near City Hall.