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minivan musings: san antonio live and unplugged


While a photo can paint a picture of a place, there is truly no substitute for experiencing a destination firsthand. The ability to immerse oneself in the character of a place — how it feels, smells, looks and supports human interaction — is invaluable in gaining an intimate understanding of an environment.

In an effort to stay engaged with our entire staff, the TBG Communications team — a diverse, talented group based in Austin that serves all TBG offices with a focus on internal and external communications, public relations, social media, community investment, graphic design and project pursuits at all scales — regularly visits our other offices.

Our first stop this fall was San Antonio.

The five of us piled into a rented minivan and headed south on I-35 on a sunny September morning. We were thrilled to explore the rapidly changing urban fabric, enlightened by the Alamo City’s great energy and character — and awed by the historic structures around our office on Broadway. Elaine and Caleb graciously gave us tours of several TBG projects, including the Flats at Big Tex, Dignowity Park, Essex Modern and the St. Mary’s University campus.

While at Big Tex we all agreed that we wanted to move in immediately. The pool was both alluring and starkly contrasted by the historic grain silos just beyond, but the site’s rich history as a brownfield, and the story of how it has been transformed into a modern community, really set it apart from other multifamily projects.

We were all familiar with Dignowity Park through photos and stories from the design team, but visiting it and seeing its exceptional downtown views was amazing. This project’s process is a model for collaboration and community engagement, so seeing the park in its neighborhood context was great and really enhanced our understanding. This same theme carried through to our visit to the Essex Modern site.

The Essex Modern City project vision goes beyond the traditional mixed-use urban infill project and will be a catalyst to larger neighborhood revitalization. Comparing the design team’s vision and our team’s site analysis while there in the Denver Heights neighborhood strengthened our project understanding and highlighted the grand nature of this urban renewal effort. Being able to hear Elaine describe the project while pointing to future development spots on site gave our team context and content for future promotional opportunities.

We finished our day at St. Mary’s University where we saw firsthand how living on campus has changed drastically since any of us were in school. We shared our different experiences and the consensus was that our time living on campus provided accommodations only slightly better than the state pen 😉 St. Mary’s students have the option of living in on-campus apartments with a resort-style pool! The expansive pool has semi-submerged lounge seating, a volleyball net, several niches for smaller group gatherings and an adjacent area designated for hammocks.

Overall, our team had a great time bonding, discovering the city’s many charms — including a memorable lunch at Rosario’s in Southtown — and learning so much from our talented team in San Antonio.