The San Antonio River Walk Museum Reach celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2019. From the unique culinary and cultural experiences of Pearl to the vibrant Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum Reach has created a space for outdoor recreation, urban living, phenomenal restaurants and bars, lively entertainment and thriving businesses.
Economic data gathered by the San Antonio River Authority indicates that in the first 10 years of the Museum Reach Urban Segment, the $72 million public investment in the river served as a catalyst to return nearly $2 billion in construction investment from Lexington Ave. to Hildebrand Ave., so the project actually stimulated far more investment than what was projected for in the 2007 construction estimate, and it did so in less than 10 years, which is a shorter horizon than the 2007 study predicted. Other economic points of interest: Land values between Lexington and Josephine St. have increased over 270% since 2009; Over 3500 housing units have been developed; Over 2,100,000 sq ft of office space and retail space has been developed.
The San Antonio River Authority installed a trail counter along the Museum Reach near the lock and dam in June 2014. It counts both pedestrians and cyclists and determines if they are going north or south. As of May 2019, it has counted a sum of northbound and southbound foot traffic equaling 1,009,804 counts and 128,912 cyclist counts for a total count of both pedestrian and cyclists of 1,138,716.
If you have not experienced the Museum Reach section of the San Antonio River Walk, we encourage you to find time to visit some of the flourishing businesses and artwork along the trail.
Zachry Construction Corporation was the contractor hired to construct the Museum Reach.
The Museum Reach Urban Segment design is broken down into three historical themes:
The river bottom of the Museum Reach Urban Segment is made of large cobble (approximately 6” diameter rocks) to provide a more natural environment for aquatic life. Low Water Fish Sanctuaries are portions of the riverbed that were excavated to create pools where fish can survive when the river is drained for maintenance and repairs. Also to protect aquatic wildlife, fish lunkers, which are essentially concrete boxes, were recessed into the river bulkheads to provide shelter for aquatic life from sun and strong currents.
CFZ Group, L.L.C. was the landscape architect for the Museum Reach Urban Segment. The project design featured over 100 plant species, mostly native grasses, shrubs and trees, with a few select non-natives such as palm trees (a unifying feature from the original Hugman River Walk design).
The Hugman Dam, just upstream of Lexington Avenue, was kept as a historical feature of the Urban Segment. The dam is named after River Walk architect Robert H.H. Hugman as it was designed by him and installed in the river around 1940 as the northern boundary of the original River Walk. A third of the dam has been removed to allow barge traffic through. Nearby signage gives the history of Hugman and the dam.
The Alamo Mills Dam was discovered during construction near VFW Post 76 just downstream of Jones Ave. The dam was built in the 1870s and was partially dismantled in the early 1900s. Subsequently, the dam was silted over and lost to history until the Museum Reach Urban Segment construction crews found it. The dam was used to send water through a mill raceway to the Alamo Mill at 8th The mill made flour and, later, ice. During construction of the Museum Reach, the dam was made to be visible to visitors day and night, and signage gives its history.
Current (2019) annual funding from the San Antonio River Authority for the operations and maintenance of the Museum Reach is $1.4 million.
A joint planning effort by six local government entities resulted in the River Corridor Feasibility Study. The study’s “River Corridor Plan” provided a conceptual plan for improvements along the San Antonio River from Hildebrand to I.H. 10 through downtown San Antonio.
Why this is important: While the design and development of the Museum Reach did not formally begin until the 1990s, it is worth noting that visionaries, like Lila Cockrell, were studying the feasibility of expanding the River Walk northward in the early 1970s.
San Antonio Museum of Art opens on the banks of the San Antonio River in a re-purposed Lone Star Brewery after a $7.2 million adaptive renovation.
Why this is important: The river was not a feature of the San Antonio Museum of Art as it is today because until completion of the Museum Reach, the river behind the museum was essentially a forgotten drainage ditch.
Completion of the San Antonio River Flood Tunnel designed to work with the Olmos Dam to protect downtown San Antonio from damage. The project includes an inlet facility located at Josephine Street and the San Antonio River, a 24-foot diameter, 3-mile long tunnel and an outlet site at Lone Star Boulevard. Ten months after completion of the tunnel, on October 17-18, 1998, south central Texas experienced record-breaking rainfall, and both the San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River tunnels performed as designed, sparing downtown San Antonio from a devastating flood. In 1999, the tunnel project won the State of Texas Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers; it also received a national-level Award of Merit. A year later, it was one of four projects to receive the Federal Design Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), as well as an achievement award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition of the San Antonio River Tunnel Inlet Site.
Why this is important: The completion of the flood tunnel was important not only for the protection it provides downtown San Antonio, but it also provided the ability to safely expand the River Walk northward into the Museum Reach area. The tunnel also allowed the San Antonio River Authority to drain the river in the Museum Reach area during construction of the Museum Reach, which was critically important for construction costs and timeline.
Bexar County, the City of San Antonio and the San Antonio River Authority authorized the creation of a local stakeholder group to be named the San Antonio River Oversight Committee (SAROC), whose purpose was to advise the planning, design, project management, construction and construction phasing and funding for the development of flood control and amenity improvements on what would become known as the San Antonio River Improvements Project (SARIP).
Why this is important: This is the formal beginning of the SARIP, including the Museum Reach and Mission Reach projects.
SAROC completes Planning Document for the SARIP detailing the community vision for the river.
Why this is important: This document was the guiding principles throughout design and construction of the SARIP.
Draft of the SWA Concept Design completed
Final SWA Concept Design Document completed
Preliminary Design on Museum Reach initiated by the design team of Ford, Powell & Carson Architects & Planners and HDR Engineering, Inc.
Preliminary Design of Museum Reach completed
Final Design of the Museum Reach: Urban Segment completed
Why this is important: During design, the Museum Reach was separated into two phases, the Urban Segment and the Park Segment. The Museum Reach “Urban Segment” was from Lexington Ave. to Josephine St. and the Museum Reach “Park Segment” was from Josephine St. to Hildebrand Ave. Today, the Museum Reach is consider one complete length from Lexington Ave. to Hildebrand Ave.
30% Final Design Documents on Museum Reach completed
30% Cost Estimate on Museum Reach completed
SAROC approves Public Arts Master Plan for SARIP
50% Final Design documents on Museum Reach completed
50% Cost Estimate for Museum Reach is completed
90% Cost Estimate on Museum Reach Urban Segment completed
Bexar County, City of San Antonio and the San Antonio River Authority approve SARIP Interlocal Agreement
US Army Corps of Engineers 404 Permit for Museum Reach Urban Segment secured
100% Cost Estimate on Museum Reach Urban Segment completed
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) permit for Lock and Dam secured
An economic impact study projected $1.1 billion in new construction along the Museum Reach upon completion of the project over a 10-15 year horizon.
Construction of the Museum Reach Urban Segment of the San Antonio River Improvements Project initiated. The project costs $71.2 million and is funded by the following partners are: City of San Antonio $53.1 million; Bexar County $13.1; Private funds through the San Antonio River Foundation, $6,5 million; San Antonio Water System, $300,000 (for utility relocation); The San Antonio River Authority served at project and construction manager and agreed to take on the long-term operations and maintenance of the Museum Reach upon completion of the project.
Museum Reach Urban Segment of the San Antonio River Improvements Project opens adding nearly 1 ½ miles to the River Walk north of Lexington Ave.
Impact of the San Antonio River Walk Study released conservative conclusions that 11.5 million people visit the River Walk annually which stimulates an overall economic impact of $3.1 billion and support 31,000 jobs.
Why this is important: This study largely focused on the downtown and Museum Reach Urban Segment sections of the San Antonio River Walk and included a small amount of research on the Mission Reach.
An economic study done as part of the 5th anniversary of the Museum Reach shows the Museum Reach generates an annual economic impact from new business operations of $139 million and over $253 million in private investment has come since the project opened in 2009.
Why this is important: This study just looked at the Museum Reach Urban Segment from Lexington Ave. to Josephine St.
Construction of Museum Reach Park Segment initiated
Between May 2007 and May 2016, staff from the San Antonio River Authority’s Intergovernmental and Community Relations Department provided and/or organized over 400 presentations and/or tours about the San Antonio River Improvements Project that were given to local, state, national and international audiences.
Why this is important: the construction of the Museum Reach and Mission Reach projects greatly increased the worldwide visibility of the San Antonio River Walk as governments and organizations from around the globe began to look to the San Antonio community for guidance in developing and restoring rivers.
Total residential and commercial investment along the Museum Reach is estimated to exceed $500 million.
Why this is important: This study just looked at the Museum Reach Urban Segment from Lexington Ave. to Josephine St.
The San Antonio River is awarded the Theiss International Riverprize. The Theiss International Riverprize, presented by the International RiverFoundation, is the world’s foremost award in river basin management. It recognizes and rewards organizations making waves in the sustainable management of the world’s rivers, whether at the grassroots or transboundary level. The prize rewards inspiring initiatives that demonstrate Integrated River Basin Management to restore and protect rivers, wetlands, lakes and estuaries.
Why this is important: This major international recognition was awarded to the San Antonio River largely for the economic success of the downtown and Museum Reach sections of the San Antonio River Walk as well as the significance of the urban ecosystem restoration along the Mission Reach section of the River Walk. In total, the San Antonio River Walk, from Hildebrand to beyond Loop 410 south, was recognized as a world leading example of river front development and urban ecosystem restoration. The San Antonio River Authority submitted the nomination and accepted the award on behalf of the river and community.
The last section of Museum Reach Park Segment trail in Brackenridge Park near the Witte Museum was officially opened.