What’s Going On In San Antonio?

I wanted to talk more about what I observed in San Antonio in May, what I have read about the situation with the federal promise grants, and what I have heard from the chefs featured in the episode–David Arciniega and Shane Reed–about what’s happened since I visited.

The city of San Antonio and other private, nonprofit organizations such as SAGE (San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside) have received millions of dollars for revitalization efforts on the Eastside. Earlier this year SAGE won $500 million for a multi-year revitalization plan (KSAT). That’s on top of the millions the city itself has already received.

Those dollars go to support many different efforts, which includes the opening of new businesses on the Eastside. The goals of the Promise Zone grants (taken from the Eastside Promise website) are:

  1. Job Creation & Workforce Development
  2. Increased Economic Development
  3. Improve Educational Opportunities and Family Stability
  4. Reduce Poverty and Increase Supply of Affordable Housing
  5. Improve Public Safety
  6. Leverage Private Capital/ Investment

An article I read in the San Antonio Current does a good job of illustrating what Shane talked a little bit about in the episode, the fact that revitalization is happening in some parts of the Eastside, but that the dollars haven’t impacted the whole area. Note too that the article talks specifically about issues in the Dignowity Hill area–exactly where I was filming the episode (San Antonio Current).

I’ve also read that some of the more immediate effects of the revitalization efforts have been reduced crime and improved high school graduation rates (San Antonio Current).

In case you’re wondering how big the Eastside area is, here’s a map.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 11.09.40 PM

The 3 and 1/2 square mile-area is bounded by Interstate 37 to the west, Fort Sam Houston to the north; AT&T Center Parkway to the east and East Commerce Street to the south. (Amaya’s Cocina is on E Commerce St and Dignowity Meats is on E Houston St.)

It’s early, and things are rapidly changing in San Antonio’s Eastside as the money starts to get spent on new programs and initiatives. Federal money aside, business is looking up for Amaya’s Cocina and Dignowity Meats. When I checked in with David and Shane in advance of releasing the episode, both said that their efforts to get more involved with the community have ballooned since I visited in May. Amaya’s has hired on some additional staff and redesigned their logo (they went by the name Amaya’s Tacos and Bakery when I was there). Many of their posts on Facebook now bear the anthem “We are the East Side.” They recently hosted a brunch benefit for the San Antonio AIDS Foundation.

And at Dignowity Meats, business soared after San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor held her re-election party at the restaurant, Shane told me. They’ve also hosted various community events, including a Google Fiber information session.

They also remodeled the area where the bandit hole was into a bar space and just extended their hours to include dinner service. Here’s a couple of photos of the new look:

Before
Before
After
After

Both restaurants are very active on social media, and you can follow along on each of their Facebook pages: Amaya’s Cocina / Dignowity Meats.

That’s all the updates I’ve got for now. San Antonio’s Eastside was definitely one of the more in-flux areas I visited on my cross-country journey, and it will be interesting to see how the community continues to navigate change as the federal revitalization grants are spent in the coming months and years.

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