How an abandoned brewery turned into a thriving local attraction

Pearl Brewery

Pearl Brewery | San Antonio, TX

When the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio shut down in 2001 after 120 years of operation, it left behind a 22-acre, asphalt-covered site in a forlorn and crime-ridden part of town.

The nearby branch of the San Antonio River was little more than a polluted creek dotted with encampments of vagrants and homeless people.

But local businessman Christopher “Kit” Goldsbury saw opportunity in the ruin and decay. Twelve years later, the Pearl Brewery has become a thriving, mixed-use complex with attractions that include:

  • Over 20 restaurants
  • The Culinary Institute of America
  • A weekly Farmers’ Market
  • Office Space
  • Residences

The formerly dank waterfront is also now part of San Antonio’s famed River Walk with public space, a beautiful park and an outdoor amphitheater. What’s more, crime in the area has dropped dramatically.

Project results worthy of an Architectural Record.

The well respected journal, Architectural Record (McGraw Hill), recently completed a detailed profile on the project, it’s origins and the outcome. Click here to read the full text of this article.

Pearl Brewery | Architectural Record

Pearl Brewery: An authentic, local-focused, ever-changing destination for San Antonians.

A collaborative development team on a mission for sucess.

After buying the Pearl Brewery, Kit Goldsbury and Silver Ventures retained Lake|Flato Architects to design a master plan for the site and develop a vision of what the place could be. MJMMG worked with Lake|Flato and the Silver Ventures team on providing a reason for people to go a destination far from downtown San Antonio.

The design and development team kept asking, “What would bring people to Pearl on a regular basis?” The results was that they kept coming back to food—local food and no national chains. Three key criteria drove the thinking and ultimate solution for Pearl Brewery: food-oriented activities, education, and Latin American culture.

A solution with a real-world plan for success.

An old warehouse was removed so that visitors could focus on the original 1894 Brewhouse that has a distinctive structural profile. The architects also applied a broad range of sustainable-design strategies that included: use of permeable materials, photovoltaic energy generation and recycling rainwater. Public Space consultants MJMMG provided:

  • Analysis & recommendation for infrastructure of public spaces to support activation and use
  • Public spaces concepts and designs
  • Full spectrum of site programing opportunities—from civic and cultural events to small gatherings
  • Public space entity management role, structure and services
  • Strategic planning for the Pearl Farmers Market, including operations, financial, marketing and management structures

When local visitors and residents stopped viewing Pearl Brewery as a development and more as a destination, the team knew they had achieved some market success.

And in a sign that everything that goes around comes around, plans are underway for renovating the original Brewhouse with a new microbrewery. Future phases will also incorporate a hotel attached to the Brewhouse and more residences.

What’s your public space challenge?

For over 20 years, MJMMG has planned, activated and managed world-class public spaces across the US including: Union Square Park and Yerba Buenna Gardens in San Francisco, Grand Park in Los Angeles, CA, and Independence Mall in Philadelphia, PA.

Click here to learn more about the Pearl Brewery Case Study or our unique approach to Integrated Public Space Services. And if you have a public space challenge, contact us and let’s discuss how we can help.

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