City Guide: Despite snags along the way, Main Plaza on list of great public spaces

Plans to renovate San Antonio’s Main Plaza, though well intentioned, hit snags at almost every step. Approved in 2006, the city celebrated the multi-million-dollar rebirth of the plaza in April 2008, though months of construction and re-planning soon followed.

The project aimed to open up a new, green space downtown, a park with vendors, cafe-style restaurants, and fountains that would break up the urban landscape near City Hall. Though originally priced at $10 million, the project’s budget soon swelled to over $18 million — all the while, construction closed off parts of downtown and annoyed motorists trying to make their way through the snarled traffic. Soon after the project was deemed “finished,” it was found the new plaza didn’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, meaning the city would have to pour more money, and time, into the venture.

Though the project was once mockingly called “Hardberger Plaza,” homage to our former mayor’s command of the project, Main Plaza is now finally complete — and, we are told, ADA compliant. And maybe all that pain was worth it: last fall the American Planning Association put Main Plaza on its list of great public spaces in the U.S. No pain, no gain.

Read more from our 2011 City Guide here.

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