Joeris General Contractors, noted for its work in redeveloping the Pearl Brewery complex, now looks to do the same for the former Mission Road Power Plant. That is where the Energy Partnerships Innovation Center, or EPIcenter, plans to turn the 80,000-square-foot South Side plant into a destination for new energy education, innovation and development. Kimberly Britton is the chief executive officer. EPIcenter has also hired Jill Vassar, experienced in financial development, to lead efforts to raise $52 million in private money for the overall $74 million project. So far, leaders of this initiative have raised $22 million in cash and in-kind donations. CPS Energy’s donation came in the form of the plant site.
The EPIcenter was created in 2015 as a collaborative effort of CPS Energy, OCI Solar, Silver Spring Networks and Landis+Gyr. The goal of the EPIcenter is to be, as organizers call it, a nucleus of a clean energy activity, such as solar, wind and geothermic, as well as other forms of sustainability. It will have collaborative co-working and creative spaces for new energy start-ups. It will be a think tank designed to advance the fundamentals of clean energy. The EPIcenter will offer workshops, interactive exhibits, a conference center, all of which can be used by the public, educators, businesses and organizations to explore solutions to 21st century energy challenges. The EPIcenter is also to have an outdoor venue featuring terraces, gardens, a restaurant, learning zones, and live performance spaces.
The old power plant is located two miles south of downtown San Antonio in the Lone Star area, which is seeing a surge of commercial and residential redevelopment. The power plant was built in 1909, in a steel-framed brick house, to shelter one of the city’s first steam turbo generators, using water from the nearby San Antonio River to cool down operations. CPS Energy decommissioned the plant in 2003, allowing for environmental clean-up and development along the Mission Reach of the river.
The EPIcenter project is in the early stage of designing. The public will get its say in the proposed design in a community forum scheduled for February. The architectural firm of Lake/Flato is heading up the design. Raba Kistner-owned Project Control is the project manager. Organizers behind the EPIcenter hope to salvage many parts of the old structure and incorporate it into the new design. For example, they seek to preserve and improve the large windows to help provide the new space with natural lighting. Funding provided, organizers could turn a seven-story skeleton structure, which once housed the plant’s boiler, into a viewing platform.
Plans call for construction to take place over two years, and for the EPIcenter to open between 2020 and 2021.