San Antonio officials, including Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Manager Sheryl Sculley, unveiled the recently renovated Plaza de Armas building on Sept. 15. Following 21 months of construction, the new structure now houses the San Antonio Community Access Network (SA-CAN) studios and offices for both the city’s Department for Culture and Creative Development and the Department of Government and Public Affairs. “Both the Department for Culture and Creative Development and the Government and Public Affairs Department are now under one roof in a space that reflects both technology and creativity,” said Taylor in a news release. “Plaza de Armas has undergone a drastic transformation to become a welcoming space where people will be inspired to create.”
Plaza de Armas is made up of four interconnected buildings bought by the city in 1986. Previously used for office space, it offers 41,000 square feet of usable space over two floors and a basement near City Hall and the former, historic Spanish Governor’s Palace. The project stabilized, restored and refurbished the Plaza de Armas building. In addition to offices and television studios, the structure includes the Plaza de Armas Culture Commons storefront gallery and exhibit hall, and Café O’liva, a new farm-to-table restaurant. “I am fortunate to represent such a thriving and diverse district,” said District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño, who was not able to attend but supported the project. “Not only did we reinvigorate a beautiful building, we also touched a piece of our history and left it in place for the generations after us.”
During construction, the Texas Historical Commission identified historical artifacts on site from the Spanish Colonial occupations dating back to 1722-1821. Steps were taken to minimize any impacts and the artifacts remain undisturbed. Part of the construction included re-purposing and exposing original materials in the structure. “The Plaza de Armas project is a great example of re-purposing an existing historic building to make it useful again,” Sculley said in the release. “This is a place where original works of art are on display, original dishes are served up by local chefs and original videos and programs are created by producers who want to use our equipment and studios.”
The project was managed by city’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department. The design-build contractor was Byrne Construction Services with Ford, Powell & Carson Architects and Planners Inc. UNICOM Government Inc. and BeckTV designed the production equipment integration of the television production studios. The project began construction in March 2013 and was ready for operation in July 2015. Public, Education and Government Access revenues funded the majority of the project.