Nearly two years after purchasing the vacant property at 722 S. St. Mary's St., Rosario’s owner Lisa Wong has shared her plans for the historic building in the form of digital renderings of an impressive new dining facility bearing the Rosario’s name.
"Our goal has been to develop Rosarios’s permanent home," Wong said in a release. "Rosario’s was one of the first restaurants in the King William and Lavaca neighborhoods 28 years ago. This site will be our third downtown move since 1992 and we operate with respect for the area."
The new facility will include expanded indoor and outdoor dining areas, a rooftop terrace, courtyard spaces and flexible gathering space for groups. The main building — which housed Southtown staple El Mirador Comida Mex for 50 years before its closure in 2018 — is noticeably absent.
Last week, news broke that Wong had submitted an application to demolish the structure and build a new restaurant, which bears a local landmark designation. The designation affects "the aesthetics of any exterior changes made to landmarks or properties within local historic districts through implementation of a design review process," according to the SA Office of Historic Preservation’s webpage.
Typically, demolishing a local landmark is a big no-no.
But Andrew Douglas, of Douglas Architects, has been working with Wong to develop the new property, and said that less than 35% of the original structure — the oldest portion of which dates back to the 1860s — exists.
In light of that detail, the team is attempting to make a case for demolition. If the application is accepted, Douglas said they intend to find ways to integrate the remaining materials and elements into the new design to pay homage to the original house.
"I understand and respect the importance of preserving historic structures and the preservation of history," Wong added. "Our new construction plans will incorporate all the care we have for heritage, our neighboring community, and our customers’ new dining needs. Despite a year of challenges, we commit to keep building for the future with San Antonio."
In that spirit, Wong says that while the two historic residential buildings on the site — the King William Garden House and the F. L. Dixon House — are in need of deferred maintenance and restoration, she is making a significant commitment to preserve both structures.
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