As Michael Guarino mentions in his column on page 5, last year the City’s Office of Historic Preservation commissioned Donovan Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics*, to create a report on the value of historic preservation in San Antonio.  Historic Preservation: Essential to the Economy and Quality of Life in San Antonio was released last February.  

The report used the SA2020 framework to examine the role of historic preservation in relation to the goals of the 11 “cause areas” that were established in that community process.  Cause areas include Arts & Culture, Education, Downtown Development, Family Well Being and Transportation.  

Some of the sections of the report that are particularly interesting for our neighborhood are: 

Income Distribution:  “Even in a perceived wealthy district like King William, there is nearly the share of under $25,000 households as in the city overall.  And in that district there are more than two times as many households earning less than $50,000 per year than those making more than $150,000.”  

Hispanic Population:  King William residents, like those of San Antonio as a whole, are majority Hispanic, about 55% (the city is 63% Hispanic).  

Family Composition and Age Distribution:  King William is sometimes perceived as an asylum for older people or as not a family neighborhood (although, as a former Bobcat mom, I know that’s not true).  While the report does not break out all 14 residential historic districts** separately on these metrics, it indicates that overall they reflect the distribution of the city (“are statistically little different”).

  

Walkability:  King William has a “Walk Score” of about 73 (out of 100; just below Lavaca’s at about 75 - what’s up with that?), making the “Very Walkable” ranking; i.e., “Most errands can be accomplished on foot.”  The Walk Score of San Antonio overall is 34 (let us try not to be smug).  The report says “living in a walkable historic neighborhood can make a substantial contribution to good health.”  So, are we fit yet, or just good looking?  

Density (Residents/Square Mile):  King William is, perhaps surprisingly, not very dense, at less than 5,000 people/sq.mi.  In fact, KW is just above the city as a whole (at about 3,000 people/sq.mi.), and the least dense of all San Antonio historic districts except Mission.  Historic neighborhoods have “density at a human scale,” and “should be used as models on how to achieve desired density rather than simply a strategy of building 20-story condominiums.” 

It takes all kinds of people to make a great city – or a great neighborhood.  And, on a range of metrics, King William has got ’em.

Access the full report at: www.sanantonio.gov/historic/Resources/EconomicImpactStudy.aspx

- Susan Athené

*According to its website (placeeconomics.com), PlaceEconomics is a Washington, DC-based real estate and economic development consulting firm, specializing “in services to public and nonprofit-sector clients who are dealing with downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization and the reuse of historic structures.” Rypkema also teaches a graduate course in preservation economics at the University of Pennsylvania.  

**The report also includes non-residential historic districts, such as the Arsenal and La Villita.