By San Antonio Express-News
Downtown San Antonio is a jewel, and a recent federal historic designation should help keep it that way.
Here’s the news: The National Park Service has designated downtown as a federal historic district. The district includes more than 200 buildings and properties, including 37 already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here’s what it means: Properties in the district are eligible for federal tax credits equal to 45 percent of renovation costs. That’s a huge financial benefit for restoring and maintaining significant history in our community. Think of the 2015 renovation of the St. Anthony Hotel as a good example of what’s possible. But this designation creates much-needed continuity.
We must admit to occasional walks across the district on brilliant and sunny days, pausing to admire the stunning details of the Scottish Rite Cathedral, replica of a Greek temple; the ornate details in the facades of the Southwestern Bell Building and the Emily Morgan Hotel; and many other displays of architectural inspiration.
Downtown San Antonio is packed with wondrous architecture.
When we talk about downtown, the focus is often on the new — development at The Pearl or in Southtown; revival of the San Pedro Creek; the symbolic shimmer of the new Frost Bank Tower; the tension created with new high-end housing and an obvious need for affordability.
But this designation, thanks to the work of the city’s Office of Historic Preservation, will help preserve our rich and layered architectural history. As the city continues to move forward, its residents will always be able to look back.