River Authority joins A&M-SA for 380-acre project on Southside

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EspadaProperty_Cover photo

Last Updated on January 30, 2024

The San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) and Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA) announced a joint recreational and environmental collaboration along the historic San Antonio River in November 2022. The property, known as the Espada Tract or Property, is located on 380 acres of land on the South Side of San Antonio. Speakers included River Authority General Manager Derek Boese, River Authority Board Chair Jim Campbell, Texas A&M University-San Antonio(A&M-SA) President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, and A&M-SA Professor and Chair of Department of Life Sciences Dr. Marvin Lutnesky.

After the announcement, the media and attendees were given tours of the property. “We are honored to be part of this new partnership and ownership with the San Antonio River Authority on this beautiful and historic track,” said Dr. Teniente-Matson. “What we see here in this 300-plus acre property is an educational ecosystem. We all can play a significant role in historical preservation and educational research; that is the beauty of the partnership between our two entities.”

The property, located south of Mission Espada, was donated to the River Authority and A&M-SA by The TJX Companies, Inc. (TJX), the leading off-price apparel and home fashions retailer in the US and worldwide, after acquiring acreage for a TJ Maxx Distribution Center on the South Side of San Antonio. In addition to donating the Espada Property, TJX committed to donating 15-20 acres of land to the Southside Independent School District for the construction of a school.

“The San Antonio River Authority is here to protect, preserve, and manage the resources and environment of the San Antonio River Basin,” said Derek Boese, General Manager of the River Authority. “We are grateful for collaborations like this one, which enable us to live out our mission.”

The Espada Property protects the scenic open space views along 2.2 miles of the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail System (View Map), including 1.6 miles along the San Antonio River, surrounding 40 acres around Cassin Lake. This trail system plays a significant role in linking the Medina River Greenway System to the San Antonio River Walk and Mission Reach trails, which allow the community to hike or bike from Brackenridge Park to the Medina River Natural Area.

Espada Land Tract Map

A Map of the Espada Tract

Espada Tract Aerial View

Aerial view of the Espada Tract

“We have this opportunity due to the foresight of many community leaders,” said Jim Campbell, Chair of the Board of Directors for the River Authority. “This property has a lot of history, and this collaboration has a lot of history. It guarantees the permanent protection of this area for generations to come.”

The partnership allows for the character of the area to remain and a chance to restore the site with native shrubland and riparian bottomland forest areas throughout the property, which serve as a refuge for resident and migratory wildlife. Plans for the property will be introduced through a master planning process managed by Dunaway, including input from the community.

Sign that outlines next steps for the Espada Property

“We have this opportunity due to the foresight of many community leaders,” said Jim Campbell, Chair of the Board of Directors for the River Authority. “This property has a lot of history, and this collaboration has a lot of history. It guarantees the permanent protection of this area for generations to come.”

The partnership allows for the character of the area to remain and a chance to restore the site with native shrubland and riparian bottomland forest areas throughout the property, which serve as a refuge for resident and migratory wildlife. Plans for the property will be introduced through a master planning process managed by Dunaway, including input from the community.

“This is one area we want to develop at the University, and there are limitless projects that can be done here. The value this collaboration has is tremendous. We are so excited about the upcoming projects we will have. I have students asking all the time, ‘when can we start studies on the property?’ They are anxious to utilize the area,” said Dr. Lutnesky.

Proposed plans include a learning center managed by A&M-SA, which will provide an outdoor nature and biology research opportunity for faculty and students. The River Authority will handle the operation and maintenance of the property, including the Espada Dam and Cassin Lake. The inclusion of park amenities will also be considered and developed through the master planning process.

Learn more about the Espada Project

We invite you to join A&M-SA and the River Authority for a public meeting on Thursday, February 9th, to learn more about the project and provide feedback. See below for details!

Next Espada Property Public Meeting takes place on Thursday February 9th, 2023


Stay tuned to the blog for updates on the Espada Property and other projects that contribute to safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers. We’ll see you at the river!

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