Recommendation #1Support the creation and growth of neighborhood commercial districts.
The Southeast Community Area lacks retailers and service providers for everyday goods and services for its residents. Although there are existing community-serving businesses and restaurants along the WW White Road and Hackberry Street corridors, there is still ample room for new retailers that provide everyday retail goods and services including groceries, healthy foods, and health care services. The Highway 87 Corridor may also have potential for a concentrated district to form as development along this road east of WW White Road continues. These neighborhood commercial districts are often catalyzed by attracting restaurants and other uses that bring visitors that can help build the market for more traditional retail uses. Supporting these neighborhood commercial districts can help generate desirable locations for businesses to locate and provide gathering points for the community.
Recommendation #2Support the growth of the Loop 410 corridor as a commercial and employment destination including a mixture of office, industrial, retail, and healthcare uses.
The Loop 410 corridor has the potential to attract major employment uses and commercial services. The area should be promoted as an employment destination, with investments to expand and improve infrastructure that better accommodates new development (e.g. accessing development sites from major roadways, addressing drainage ways and flood plain issues near Rosillo Creek). Development projects with a mix of employment and housing uses should be encouraged along most of the corridor near major intersections and interchanges to facilitate balanced growth of the area.
The Southeast Community Area has a small employment base with approximately 7,450 jobs in 2018. Businesses are located primarily along major roadways, including Loop 410, Highway 87, South WW White Road, and South Hackberry Street. The plan area’s largest employment sector is Real Estate & Rental Leasing, with Administrative & Support Services and Health Care & Social Assistance also representing more than 10% of area jobs.
- The limited employment in the Southeast Community plan area consists of jobs with wages that are mainly distributed between jobs paying average or above average wages. Most people employed in the Southeast Community plan area do not live in the area, with 94% of workers commuting in from other places. Similarly, most employed people living in the Southeast Community plan area do not work in the area, with only 2.5% of residents employed in the area, while the remaining 97.5% commute out to other locations.
- The Southeast Community Area has existing commercial building stock with approximately 400,000 square feet of office space and 840,000 square feet of retail space. Vacancy rates for commercial spaces in the plan area are low, but average rental rates are also lower than the City-wide average. There has been limited new commercial development in the past decade.
- The plan area has 612,000 million square feet of industrial space, and inventory has remained relatively unchanged since 2005. The area’s industrial space has a low industrial vacancy rate of 1.0%, compared to the 4.8% Bexar County average, but has higher than average rental rates.
Economic Challenges to Address
There are three main economic challenges in the Southeast Community Area:
- Employment Opportunities in Immediate and Adjacent Areas: The plan area has a small employment base and limited opportunities for residents to work close to home. However, the plan area is in close proximity to major employment areas including the Brooks Area and Downtown Area Regional Centers. This proximity can be used to attract additional business to the area.
- Everyday Retail Goods and Needs: The Southeast Community Area lacks everyday retail goods and services; there is no grocery store or pharmacy within the plan area. Attracting more retailers/businesses that provide the area with everyday goods and services is needed to support the vitality of the area.
- Access to Health Services: The plan area (and the eastern side of San Antonio in general) also lacks health service providers. Hospitals close to the plan area are located in the Brooks Area or Downtown. There are a small number of medical offices and services, primary care doctors, and dentists in and around the plan area, including a cluster of medical offices along Southcross Boulevard. Additional housing growth along Loop 410 can help build the market for health services on the east side of the city.
The Southeast Community plan area has economic assets and strengths including its proximity to major employment centers, access to major transportation routes, natural/outdoor amenities, and its existing neighborhoods. Efforts are needed to build off of these assets to create more economic opportunities in the Southeast Community Area including:
- Access and Proximity to Employment Areas The plan area is in close proximity to major employment centers and Regional Centers within San Antonio. The plan area is immediately southeast of Downtown, south of Fort Sam Houston and the AT&T Center, and adjacent to the Brooks Area Regional Center. Loop 410 gives residents on the eastern side of the plan area great access to the rest of the region. Access to I-10 and I-37 for residents of the western portion of the plan area also provides great connectivity to the rest of the City and region. There is potential to attract businesses to the plan area because of its relatively central location and the access and visibility to Loop 410.
- Natural Resources Open spaces and natural areas are assets for surrounding neighborhoods and useful tools for the creation of neighborhood commercial nodes.
- Neighborhood Quality The plan area’s existing neighborhood character and aesthetic, are attractive for residents and small neighborhood-scaled businesses.
Target Employment Areas
San Antonio’s Inclusive Growth Areas
One of the City of San Antonio’s primary economic development tools is the use of tax abatement incentives to support existing businesses and to attract new businesses to the community. The City’s Economic Development Department recently modified its tax abatement program and approach to improve opportunities for community economic development. The new tax abatement policy established geographic tiers to enhance incentives for businesses that expand or locate in areas with high levels of poverty. The area west of Salado Creek is within the Tier I area defined in the policy, which focuses on targeted investment and job sourcing and training of candidates.
To leverage the designation as a priority incentive area or to attract employers in general, plan areas like the Southeast Community Area need to ensure there are desirable locations for new businesses to locate and opportunities for existing businesses to expand. As part of developing economic development recommendations for community area plans, target employment areas have been identified. The purpose of identifying these areas is to draw attention to the opportunities and to help highlight the need to fund improvements that will enhance these areas’ ability to attract new jobs and businesses.
There are four areas within the Southeast Community plan area that should be targeted for investments and improvements to increase their appeal for attracting and growing businesses. These areas are: