Historic Travis Building Gets Sustainable $ 5 Million Upgrade

Downtown San Antonio is about to become a little more sustainable.

The Travis Building, a historic former office space on St. Mary’s Street, is slated for $ 5 million in sustainability renovations funded by the Texas Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

The statewide funding program, called TX-PACE for short, will help convert the 10-story mixed-use building and six-story garage to include more energy efficient features, such as LED lighting. , reflective roof, heating and air conditioning. , and modifications to water conservation and plumbing. The upgrades, which are expected to be completed by spring 2022, are expected to generate estimated savings of $ 8.5 million over the life of the building.

The building, which will retain its historic appearance, will have 63 multi-family units with retail space on the ground floor.

Discussions on the renovation project have been underway for two years.

“It’s so exciting for the city to be able to see older properties being redeveloped like this,” said Diane Rath, executive director of the Regional Council of Governments of Alamo, “and to use the latest technology to benefit from energy savings, but also to preserve what makes these buildings so special.

TX-PACE was adopted by the City of San Antonio in 2020, nearly a decade after the funding tool was approved by the Texas Legislature for use in the state. The city is partnering with AACOG, which administers the program locally.

The program is used to encourage owners of commercial properties – industrial or agricultural – as well as properties owned by non-profit organizations and multi-family residential properties to create more sustainable facilities. Projects aimed at making buildings more energy or water efficient may be eligible for the funding program, the two types of projects often going hand in hand.

Financing through TX-PACE is often more affordable than traditional bank loans. Another key difference with PACE funding is the way it is repaid. Debt is secured by a special appraisal inscribed on the title, which means that the payments are included in the owner’s property tax bill – ideally with reduced operating costs offsetting or exceeding the higher tax bill. As long as the homeowner pays his taxes, the lender will be reimbursed.

In the case of the Travis Building, the projected savings are $ 3.5 million more than the cost of the renovations. The program will not fund projects where the cost exceeds the savings.

TX-PACE advocates hope other projects like the Travis Building will follow. Rath said the region presents many opportunities for sustainability.

“We were very, very aggressive in making presentations to the developers and educating them about the project,” said Rath. “We have worked with people not only from the city of San Antonio, but also from surrounding communities like Leon Valley, Castle Hills, Universal City and Live Oak. They all adopted (TX-PACE), and I think Alamo Heights is on its way to the New Year.

Elena Bruess writes for Express-News through Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. ReportforAmerica.org. [email protected]


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