Catalytic Real Estate Development in San Antonio’s Promise Zone

HR&A led a multidisciplinary team to create an inclusive, place-based, and market-guided strategy for economic development in the city’s Promise Zone.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated the Eastside, a 22-square mile economically distressed area, as a Promise Zone in 2014, streamlining access to federal programs that could support neighborhood revitalization. San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside a nonprofit steward of the Promise Zone, also known as SAGE, engaged HR&A through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to complete an Economic Development Strategy that aligns Eastside investments with neighborhood goals.


The HR&A team, which included Alamo Architects, Moore Icafano Goltsman (MIG), and Infrastructure Design Solutions Engineering (IDS), conducted a series of analyses to deliver a targeted and actionable strategy for economic development on the Eastside.


The team began with extensive outreach to SAGE, its public partners, neighborhood stakeholders, and the broader community to identify the core goals for economic development and opportunities and challenges related to those goals. We then analyzed the existing context of San Antonio’s Eastside to learn about the demographics, physical layout, and strengths and challenges around economic development and reviewed a set of potential policies to advance SAGE goals within this context.


Guided by SAGE’s focus as an economic development organization, we then identified opportunities to realize these policies with new real estate development. We conducted a site analysis of the entire Eastside to identify all vacant, underutilized, and neglected parcels, as well as “prototypical” parcels for which we created illustrative development concepts that reflect both community aspirations and market context.


We then conducted rigorous financial analysis to evaluate the feasibility of each concept. Based on this analysis, we identified existing incentive programs that can support development on the Eastside, as well as new policies that can facilitate a broader range of development uses and locations. Lastly, we developed an organizational implementation strategy to help SAGE prioritize among recommendations and develop the capacity needed to pursue these priorities.


This Strategy lays the blueprint for the next generation of growth on the Eastside, and will form the foundation of SAGE’s work plan in the coming years.