Committee approves Playland Park for headquarters
By Cynthia M. Herrera
The board of trustees approved the citizens-advisory committee recommendation to build a district support operations building at Playland Park, 2222. N. Alamo St., during a regular board meeting Tuesday.
The 14-member advisory board was created May 15 to verify the need for the building, and validate or recommend modifications of a building to the board.
During a special board meeting July 21, $55 million in funding was approved for the building.
According to a presentation July 21, one student, faculty and staff member will join the advisory board, but Gloria Ray, chair of the citizen’s advisory board, said they would join during the design phase of the building. Ray is a retired senior official of Kelly Air Force Base.
Even though the advisory board recommended a student and faculty member be a part of the committee, Anna Bustamante, District 3 trustee and chair, said it shouldn’t have been done from the beginning.
Bustamante said, “I really do think we need to do that. It should have been done initially because that’s what I assumed was going to happen with those members at-large that we were going to choose.”
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said during Tuesday’s meeting that in 10 years, $802 million in bonds has been spent to build or renovate facilities; district facilities have used $2.4 million.
“During that time on the DSO facilities that house about 465 employees, we’ve had only 0.3 percent,” Snyder said.
“So that’s what really this was the emphasis for, the needs that we had. Environmental issues, concerns for employee safety, the aging conditions of the buildings, to avoid continued throwing money at some of these facilities, the overcrowding and having our DSO employees so distributed that it affects the productivity,” she said.
Support operations are in three buildings at two sites. Some of the buildings are portables.
According to a Tuesday presentation by John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities operation and construction management, employees at the Houston Street portable have seen homicides, prostitution, drug sales, public indecency and panhandling, including cases of panhandlers attempting to get in employee cars with them.
Some employees have reported being bitten by roaches and rodents, and others have witnessed individuals urinating on their office windows.
Ray spoke on Tuesday on behalf of the advisory members.
“After looking very closely at the conditions of the current district support operations, we came together and unanimously decided there was no other action to be taken besides moving forward with a new upgraded district support operations building,” Ray said.
She said the Alamo Colleges had built up the community with its ambitions.
“Alamo Colleges is very ambitious … We have children being born every day. Not everybody can afford to go to a four-year college. Not everybody can afford to get an education like those born with a silver spoon. Alamo Colleges has been very successful in the building up of this community. We must think of the future not just today. We decided, unanimously, that Playland Park would be the best opportunity for Alamo Colleges and the citizens of San Antonio and the students of tomorrow,” she said.
Potential plans for the building consisted of rebuilding at Sheridan or new construction at the Playland Park site.
The total cost to build at Sheridan would have been an estimated $53,249,476 and Playland an estimated $59,646,815.
The estimate includes: a four-story building at $44,091,976; demolition, $456,000; physical plant, $3,358,000; a conference center priced at $4,558,000 and moving costs of $3.5 million.
According to Tuesday’s slideshow, money spent on maintenance and facilities for 2015-16 would have been $14.6 million, however building at Playland for an additional $26,249,476 allows the Alamo Colleges to invest in a new building and save that money over the course of several years for maintaining all existing property.
Sheridan would have been an additional $25,746,815, or $500,000 or 1.95 percent less than Playland.
The Playland facility will total 270,000 sq. feet.
Solar panels, rainwater harvesting, SAWS recycled water, thermal energy storage are potential energy saving options. Building at Sheridan would have limited possibilities for energy conservation because of the amount of space, according to the presentation.
Strybos said rebuilding at Sheridan would enhance the community. It would also blend in with the revitalization along San Pedro Creek, which flows two blocks from Sheridan and is being redeveloped by the city of San Antonio. A new H-E-B grocery store is being built and the grocery chain headquarters is being expanded.
The advisory board said the downfall for building at Sheridan would be the reactions of surrounding neighborhoods and possible attempts to stop construction. The 3.5 acres was also a problem because it sets a limit to future growth.
Benefits for building at Playland included potential to grow in the future on the 12.6-acre plot and more flexibility in design.
Strybos also noted property and expected sale prices: $9.6 million for the Pat Booker Road building, $2.7 million for the Houston Street property and $3.6 million for the Sheridan Street property. Playland Park would have been offered at $12 million.
Total sales from existing properties for building at Playland are estimated at $15.9 million and $24.3 million had Sheridan been selected.