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City launches pilot program to revamp areas of town

Two neighborhood leaders are hoping for a part on the southside to be revitalized, with help from the city's Corridor Program Pilot.
Two neighborhood leaders are hoping for a part on the southside to be revitalized, with help from the city's Corridor Program Pilot.
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The City of San Antonio just launched a new city pilot program focused on improving the economic activity in a corridor of town, called the Corridor Program Pilot. The city partnered with Main Street America, a national group known for corridor development across the U.S.

With funds from the State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds made available from the American Rescue plan Act, the collaboration will work with commercial corridors to receive direct organizational and development support for a two-year period.

One area of town has already had two community members focused on its revitalization. The southside, particularly at Southcross near Quintana, is an area once known as its own city.

“Southcross used to be its Main Street," says Andy Castillo, a neighborhood leader who moved into a historic building on Southcross. Castillo was inspired 15 years ago to restore what was once lost, “it was around 1900 to 1940 that this town existed, it had its own mayor, post office, jail," says Castillo.

People who grew up on this side of town, like Alfred Rocha, says "I want them to see what we see.”

Rocha is the Quintana Homeowners Association President, hoping to one day see the same thriving community he once grew up in.

All that's in the area now, is a few vacant buildings, a ballroom convention center, three churches, Freedom Music Studio, a local boxing gym and new coffee spot, Cuba 1918.

But, Castillo and Rocha want to see more, "full of businesses, people walking up and down kids enjoying the shops, people enjoying the shops, just a walkable, friendly community," says Castillo.

To create this vision, funding would help beautify the street with needs like parking, building renovations.

Castillo and Rocha are working to apply for the city's corridor program, hoping to receive the $425,000 that could be used to revamp the corridor.

Rocha says, "we can set the foundation, get everyone encouraged, maybe current businesses can look at a vision beyond their current scope."

The program says the two commercial corridors will receive, up to $200,000 in direct, operational funding support; and up to $225,000 in technical assistance contract funding to support the overall strategy and corridor development.

Training will also be made available from Main Street America.

Economic Development director Brenda Hicks-Sorensen says that funding could go to a variety of things like, "identifying banners, signage, you might have trash receptacles, and benches and so forth, ya know, branding for the area."

Hicks-Sorensen says the funding use will be based on the needs of the corridor.

According to the programs website, to be eligible, applicants must be a "Managing Organization" or make a commitment to forming a Managing Organization to be considered eligible for this program.

Managing Organizations must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a 501c3, 501c4, or 501c6
  • Be based in or have a significant presence in the proposed corridor
  • Currently maintain or intend to maintain an office in the corridor
  • Demonstrate a track record of measurable community outcomes
  • Demonstrate a proven ability to convene community stakeholders

Castillo says they're working with District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo on the application process, as well as figuring out the nonprofit aspect of the application.

In the meantime, they'll continue to push for preservation of the infrasture and rebuild the area that was once a popular part of San Antonio.

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"100 years of history here, I really think that it's not going away, and it's still here for a reason," says Rocha.

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