(Luis Ayala)

Pearl, San Antonio, Texas, United States
Developer: Silver Ventures Inc.
Designers: Lake Flato Architects, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, Don McDonald Architects, Sprinkle & Co. Architects, Ford Powell & Carson Architects, Jim Kissling Architecture, Dado Group, Clayton & Little Architecture, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc., Rialto Studio
Site size: 21 acres (8.5 ha)  

Pearl is an 850,000-square-foot (79,000 sq m) mixed-use development on the 21-acre (8.5 ha) site of the former Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. The brewery, which began operation in 1883 and was once the city’s largest employer, ceased production in 2001.  

When the site was acquired in 2002 by local investor Silver Ventures Inc., the 19th-century buildings were failing structurally, the grounds were contaminated, and the adjacent streets flooded regularly. The derelict industrial site was located in an inner-city neighborhood plagued by crime, storefront vacancies, and very low residential density, the result of a decades-long economic and cultural decline.  

Master planning took place over the three years it took to catalog the brewery contents for future reuse, remove nonessential buildings, and address drainage and environmental issues. Out of that planning process, conceptual ideas began to emerge. Those tenets focused on a few primary concepts: preserving the history of both the buildings and the brewery, sustainably revitalizing the neighborhood, measuring Pearl’s success by the degree it catalyzed redevelopment of the area; creating a place that locals called their own, and having culinary education and excellence as the cornerstone.  

Pearl is now home to the third campus of the Culinary Institute of America and 18 chef/proprietor-driven restaurants and bars. A farmers market draws 5,000 to 7,000 people each weekend, and additional programming engages the community year-round. The 146-key Hotel Emma provides old-world comfort within the historic and industrial context of the original brewhouse. The project’s 432 rental residential units have the highest rental and occupancy rates in the city. The retail and office mix reflects a thoughtful selection that has created a uniquely San Antonio experience.