Thad Rutherford, president of New Braunfels-based SouthStar Communities, received approval from the San Antonio City Council in November 2019 to acquire a 600-acre parcel off Interstate 410 and South Zarzamora Street for $30 million and create the development, called VIDA.
The development team will first focus on housing geared toward A&M students and faculty, beginning with 250 units across single-family homes and duplexes, plus multiple multifamily projects to be announced this summer, according to SouthStar. Work will start near Loop 410 and gradually move toward the university.
Rutherford could not yet reveal homebuilding partners. He said while the first focus is on housing because of the demand on the South Side, the team is also talking to development groups in other sectors about the community, with some possible retail in the first phase.
Rutherford and his partners were eager to get moving on construction in April or May. But because of the health and economic uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was on an indefinite pause while the team was evaluating safety concerns and changing market demands.
But the development team and community partners continue to see a need for housing on the South Side, especially around the university.
”The idea has evolved, and we had a speed bump in the spring thanks to Covid, but we never stopped planning and working,” Rutherford said. “Once it starts, these things generally don’t stop.”
The land was designated as a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone in 2007, when it was owned by Las Vegas-based Verano Land Group LP, to kickstart development on the South Side, meaning that the city would reimburse nearly $220 million in property tax revenue to the developer for public improvements.
Verano Land Group never moved forward on its plans and opted to sell the land in 2018. This followed a long-standing lawsuit against three of its former managing partners surrounding the donation of land to Texas A&M-San Antonio.
SouthStar also owns and operates Mission del Lago, another master-planned community nearby.