VIA Villa | Case Study
San Antonio | Texas
About a mile from San Antonio’s famed River Walk is the Cattleman Square neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood that for years has been in a state of decay, dotted with vacant and dilapidated buildings. Today significant progress is being made to alter its conditions. Several apartment complexes have opened and a medical center was approved for development. The cornerstone of the neighborhood revitalization is VIA Metropolitan Transit Centro Plaza at VIA Villa. This state-of-the-art facility, opened in late 2015, serves the Greater San Antonio Region as a multimodal transit hub to reduce traffic congestion into the downtown, improve the passenger experience and stimulate economic growth. Centro Plaza is located next to the renewed historic International & Great Northern Rail Station and VIA’s new Administration Headquarters called The Grand. Centro Plaza includes striking architectural, natural, artistic, and environmentally friendly features. A large circular canopy shades the plaza and includes an 80-foot light tower by renowned artist Bill FitzGibbons. Sustainability features reduce ozone emissions, use solar paneling to generate electricity, and water filtration systems. Some are calling Centro Plaza a “transformation hub.” MJMMG was hired to develop comprehensive activation strategy for Centro Plaza, a community room at the Grand, leased space and a location earmarked for food trucks to serve as a catalyst for the neighborhood’s continued improvement.
- Create recommendations to transform a new, but underutilized public area used primarily as a pass through point into an active, safe and welcoming civic hub.
- Identify sustainable ways to activate the Plaza for people who live, work and use the area.
- Address issues of safety, homelessness, panhandling, and cleanliness.
- Integrate the needs of diverse interests—City agencies, law enforcement, businesses and residents and community organizations—into a plan they would support.
- Assessing VIA operations to define each department’s contributions, role and capabilities to staging events and activities at VIA Villa.
- Conducting site tours of VIA Villa and surrounding neighborhood to define community needs.
- Conducting interviews and focus groups with all stakeholders, such as local property and business owners; social service providers who work with the homeless; City public space managers; food providers; artist and performance groups and more.
- Evaluating current and potential future users.
- Conducting research into national case studies to apply best practices and lesson learned to VIA Villa, including security requirements; emergency management planning; event/activity planning; transit and way finding; integration of short/long-term leasing; strategies to address homeless populations; and urban design.
- Using information collected to create metrics for benchmarks for activation.
- Collecting commercial data to determine leasing rates.
- The strategic plans provided by MJMMG are being used as the blueprint for accomplishing VIA Villa goals.