It’s an exciting time for San Antonio! Here are just a few of the city’s recent and upcoming projects. For more of what’s new in San Antonio, explore www.visitsanantonio.com/media..
San Antonio Convention CenterAnnounces $40 Million Renovation (2011)
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center (HBGCC) is debuting $40 million in renovations throughout 2011. From the $26 million refurbishment of the 2,400-seat Lila Cockrell Theatre to the new Plaza Acequia, a 20,000 sq. ft. outdoor event space, this art-filled facility on the River Walk is a true masterpiece. Energy-efficient additions, new digital signage and a Visitor Information Center are also among the improvements.
First Phases of River Walk Expansion a Success—More to Come (2013)
San Antoniois in the midst of a $358.3 million project to lengthen the River Walk from three to 15 miles. The Museum Reach was added in May 2009. This connected downtown with museums, cultural districts and the historic Pearl Brewery to the north. The Mission Reach (noted as the largest ecosystem restoration in an urban area) will join the original River Walk to four of the city’s Spanish colonial missions to the south in 2013, though sections are being opened as completed.
Witte to Open South Texas Heritage Center (May 26, 2012)
The Witte Museum is about to welcome their 20,000-square-foot South Texas Heritage Center, along the banks of the newly extended San Antonio River Walk. Collections and archives trace the legendary history of South Texas with saddles, spurs, branding irons, land grants, art and firearms. The center will provide engaging experiences of South Texans including Texas Indians, Spanish settlers, Tejanos, ranchers, trail drivers, farmers and oil and gas industry leaders. This new facility will offer a grand entry hall; exhibits on ranching, farming, Main Plaza in the 1840s, oil and gas industry, horse culture and life along the border; gallery dedicated to the Witte’s seminal 19th and 20th century early Texas Art collection; classroom space for educational programs; outdoor amphitheater, sculptures and much more.
Formula 1 Debuts in Texas (2012)
Formula 1 racing is coming to Central Texas with the Circuit of The Americas, just 83 miles from downtown San Antonio. The new racetrack will welcome the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX on November 18, 2012. It is designed to be the only purpose-built facility in the U.S. to host the FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX through 2021 and V8 SUPERCARS from 2013-2018. It will be the only FIA-certified Grade 1 track in the United States, and one of only 26 Grade 1-certified motorsports facilities in the world. The venue includes the 3.4-mile Circuit of The Americas track designed for any and all classes of racing and the overall footprint includes an outdoor amphitheater that accommodates 15,000-17,000 people.
Smartphone Tour Enhances River WalkExperience (2011)
Use a smartphone or pad device to explore 12 points along the San Antonio River Walk. Download a QR code reader from your smartphone, then look for the QR codes on wayfinding and interpretive signs along the River Walk. Snap them with your device’s camera to access images and narratives.
InauguralMilitary RiverParade (Saturday, May 19, 2012)
San Antonio celebrates National Armed Forces Day with an inaugural Military River Parade. 25 decorated river barges with live entertainment and participants from all branches of military service will transform the River Walk into a symbol of patriotism. The public is encouraged to help decorate the river by purchasing yellow ribbons in honor of deployed loved ones. The parade departs from the Arneson River Theater at 3:00 p.m. and will last until 5:00 p.m.
Casa Navarro Reopens after Extensive Restorations (February 2012)
After a full year of restorations, Casa Navarro, a State Historic Site, has reopened to the public. This historic property was the 1850s homestead of Texas hero José Antonio Navarro (1795–1871), a rancher, merchant, leading advocate for Tejano rights, and one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.
128-Year-Old Brewery Redeveloped into Urban River Village (Ongoing)
Once the birthplace of Pearl Beer, this long-time staple of the San Antonio economy is being redeveloped into an art-filled urban village next to the River Walk. Preservations and additions are being made with detail to the site’s historic character and incorporate the latest-available, eco-friendly technology including the largest solar panel system in all of Texas. Once complete, Pearl Brewery will be the city’s “it” spot to live, learn, shop, work and play. A few highlights include the Culinary Institute of America’s newest campus, which focuses on the cuisines of Latin America; the Aveda Institute; restaurants by top San Antonio chefs, and the historic Pearl Stable entertainment venue, as well as a new river theater adjacent to the River Walk.
Lila Cockrell Theatre Reopens After $26 Million Renovation (January 2011)
The Lila Cockrell Theatre has reopened after an extensive $26 million refurbishment. Perfect for general assemblies, corporate presentations, performing arts events and concerts, the Lila Cockrell Theatre boasts three levels of seating for a total of 2,400 people, as well as the latest in technical support. A grand entryway lit by contemporary crystal chandeliers; interior finishes designed in rich red and gold mosaic tile inlays; embedded light fixtures incorporating the city’s famous quatrefoil icon; and creative works of art from one of San Antonio’s most talented local artists make the theatre a unique and memorable setting for any occasion.
Historic Jingu House Reopens at Japanese Tea Garden (2011)
After $1.2 million in improvements, the historic Jingu House at the Japanese Tea Garden is now open to visitors. The two-story, 2,200 square-foot house features new restrooms, a new dining and patio area, an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lift and complete interior restoration. The renovated gardens offer a lush year-round garden and floral display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with colorful Koi.
San AntonioInternational AirportAdds New Terminal (November 2010)
Traveling to San Antonio International Airport just became more convenient with the opening of a new eight-gate terminal. The $108 million dollar Terminal B replaces the older of the airport’s two terminals and caps off several years of airport renovations, which include a new long-term parking garage, the bi-level roadway system, consolidated baggage handling system and a new central utility plant. Home to Continental and American Airlines, Terminal B also has dining options from local chefs, charming shops, public art and free Wi-Fi. Architects utilized tile designs from the area’s historic missions and incorporated regional elements such as limestone. Friendly airport ambassadors are also on hand to make sure everyone experiences the charm of San Antonio
Éilan Hotel Resort & Spa to Open (Winter 2012)
Set amid the rolling landscape of San Antonio's Hill Country, the Éilan Hotel Resort & Spa will combine the intimacy of a boutique hotel with the splendor of a luxury resort. Not only was the Éilan Hotel inspired by the unpretentious, natural elements of true Tuscan design, but the hotel was also developed with the utmost of respect for the environment. Proudly carrying LEED Silver status and featuring an impressive portfolio of sustainable processes. Éilan will provide 165 rooms, over 26,000 square feet of meeting space and close proximity to one of San Antonio’s most upscale shopping, dining and entertainment districts.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Opens in Historic Downtown San Antonio (October 2011)
This 120-suite hotel, is located just steps from the historic Alamo and the River Walk, in one of the San Antonio’s historic buildings. Visitors can enjoy business services, fitness center, pool, separate living and bedroom zones and fully accessorized. Property features include low flow showers and faucets, biodegradable food trays, CFL light bulbs, dual flush toilets, recycled flooring, Energy Star appliances, carpet and surfaces made from recycled product and other sustainable product selections.
Hyatt Regency Debuts First Phase in $30 Million Renovation (November 2010)
Located on the River Walk and just steps from the Alamo, the Hyatt Regency San Antonio has been a San Antonio favorite for 28 years. In November 2010, the Hyatt Regency debuted the first phase of its $30 million renovation. Included was a new façade, lobby, artwork, bar and restaurant—all redesigned to keep this landmark hotel as cutting edge today as it was when it opened. The second phase of the renovation, scheduled for completion in July 2011, will include the enhancement of hotel meeting spaces and the ballroom.
Hilton Palacio del Rio Unveils $24 Million Renovation
The Hilton Palacio del Rio hotel, located on the River Walk, recently underwent a $24 million renovation to all of its 482 guest rooms. The 43-year-old hotel is 22-stories tall and was constructed to provide additional space for 1968 World’s Fair visitors. The structure was built using a modular construction method and only took 202 working days to complete; holding the Guinness World Record for the fastest building of its size built using a modular construction method. Rooms have new interior walls, carpet, furnishings and expanded bathrooms.
Embassy Suites Riverwalk Adds 285 More Rooms to River Walk (November 2010)
Located along a serene stretch of the River Walk, the new Embassy Suites River Walk offers magnificent views, 285 suites and over 11,000 square feet of meeting space. It’s also home to John Besh’s newest restaurant, Lüke.
Culinary Institute of America Welcomes New San Antonio Campus (October 2010)
The CIA has opened a new 30,000-square-foot campus at San Antonio’s historic Pearl Brewery. The CIA San Antonio campus focuses on the cuisines of Latin America and takes advantage of San Antonio’s access to regional ingredients and Tex-Mex culture. Programs are offered for future chefs as well as food enthusiasts. Classes can also be arranged for small group meetings.
Alamodome Presents the All-New Illusions Theater (September 2010)
Within walking distance to the convention center and the River Walk, the Alamodome has unveiled San Antonio’s newest specialty theater and live entertainment venue, Illusions Theater. Featuring a capacity of 3,500 to 11,000 people, the theater’s state-of-the-art curtain and LED lighting system create an exciting setting while offering the benefits of tremendous versatility for concerts, performances, corporate presentations and general assemblies.
Convention Center Debuts Lonesome Dove Room (July 2010)
The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center recently welcomed the new Lonesome Dove Room. Offering seating for 150 to 500 people, the Lonesome Dove Room is more than a ballroom; its fine Western art and rich furnishings evoke the maverick history and rustic elegance of the landscape that inspired it. The venue flows out onto a river patio along a quiet stretch of the River Walk, seamlessly transforming into an al fresco setting for private groups and events.
World’s First Special Needs Theme Park Opens in San Antonio (April 2010)
Designed specifically for individuals with special needs, Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park. Morgan’s Wonderland is completely wheelchair-accessible and features more than 25 elements and attractions including rides, playgrounds, gardens, an eight-acre fishing lake, 18,000-square-foot special-events center, 575-seat amphitheater, picnic area and rest areas throughout the park.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa Opens (January 2010)
The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa offers two PGA TOUR, TPC golf courses designed by Pete Dye and Greg Norman; a 26,000-square-foot spa; 1,002 luxurious rooms and suites; and over 140,000 square feet of unparalleled meeting space. In 2010, the Valero Texas Open moved to the new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.
On the Horizon:
BriscoeWestern Art Museum(2013)
The upcoming Briscoe Western Art Museum will add a new dimension to San Antonio’s art scene along with upscale meeting space. This one-of-a-kind museum will be devoted to celebrating the art, people and history of the great American West with an emphasis on the Western art of San Antonio and the South Texas region. Included will be an arts and education center as well as an artist in residence program. A renovation of the former San Antonio Library and Hertzberg Circus Museum, to cost approximately $18 million, will provide more than 40,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition areas.
Aquatica San Antonio (2012)
In May 2012, SeaWorld San Antonio will introduce Aquatica, an 18-acre aquatic park with up-close animal experiences, high-speed thrills and relaxing, sandy beaches. Aquatica’s signature experience is a family raft ride that twists and turns through an underwater grotto that puts guests face-to-fin with several species of stingrays. Guests will also have the opportunity to wade with rays in an in-water connection program, and there’s a separate pool for park goers to feed stingrays. Located within SeaWorld San Antonio, Aquatica will have a separate admission fee.
Six Flags to Debut New Swing Ride (2012)
Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ new SkyScreamer swing ride will take flight in spring of 2012 with aerial views that will surpass the park’s quarry walls. The new ride will be 20 stories high and will accommodate 32 guests at a time. It will have a 98-foot circle and reach speeds of up to 40 mph.
TobinCenterfor the Performing Arts (2013)
San Antonio’s former Municipal Auditorium, an event venue built as a stunning WWI memorial, is being renovated into the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Scheduled for completion in September 2013, this San Antonio treasure will retain its historical charm and grandeur while featuring exceptional sound, acoustics and seating arrangements. Plus, its location on the esteemed Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk will make it a gateway to the cultural heart of San Antonio.
Reimagining HemisFair Park
San Antonio’s beloved HemisFair Park is located in downtown, aside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. It features numerous water features and public art installations while also being home to the Tower of the Americas, Institute of Texan Cultures, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México and the Instítuto de México. HemisFair Park originated in 1968, when San Antonio hosted the world’s fair, which brought business, development and notoriety to the city. San Antonio is looking to reimagine what this beautiful place can be by preserving its many historic buildings; maintaining the lovely green spaces and gardens; and introducing spaces to live, work and play—all in an environmentally friendly way.
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The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, a department of the City of San Antonio, is funded through the hotel/motel occupancy tax. The bureau is a marketing, sales and service organization dedicated to the promotion of San Antonio as a meetings and visitor destination for the purpose of positively affecting the city's economy.