San Antonio Retail Market: We Want It All, and We Want It All Now
San Antonio has at times been characterized as “a big city with a small-town feel.” However, with an MSA surpassing 2 million people and a claim to being one of the country’s largest and fastest growing cities, the small-town feeling is fading quickly.
With robust population growth, strong job numbers and a decade of prosperity to lean on, our retail business is more dynamic than ever. It should be of no surprise to this readership that like other areas of the country, San Antonio is facing continued pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar retail as e-commerce continues to grow and penetrate the market.
Yet many local and regional retailers are adapting. One of the best examples of this adaptation is H-E-B, San Antonio’s dominant supermarket chain, which has taken on the e-commerce challenge by integrating an online grocery shopping experience with the option of home delivery or curbside pickup at select stores. Currently, H-E-B is under construction on its second fulfillment center next to its retail store at Bulverde Marketplace.
As retailers evolve, retail developers and property owners are experiencing swift changes within their tenant lineups and are working diligently to ensure their marketplaces continue to attract customers. Entertainment, fitness and health and wellness, as well as best-in-class fast-casual dining, are top of mind and are helping to stabilize shopping centers and kickstart retail developments.
Four new, large-format entertainment anchors have taken positions in the San Antonio metro area in the last several months. EVO Entertainment has recently opened a center that features 73,000 square feet of theater, bowling, gaming and dining space in Schertz, Texas, northeast of San Antonio.
Not to be outdone, Santikos Entertainment will deliver an 87,000-square-foot entertainment facility this summer and will anchor Cibolo Crossing, a 350,000-square-foot mixed-use development.
Flix Brewhouse has broken ground in Far West San Antonio on a 40,000-square-foot, full-service cinema that will help anchor a 550,000-square-foot development, The Shops at Dove Creek. Andretti Indoor Karting & Games opened next to The RIM in a 90,000-square-foot facility adding to the massive entertainment corridor at Loop 1604 and Interstate 10.
The fitness category has maintained rapid expansion in San Antonio. Planet Fitness, a REATA Real Estate client, opened its 12th store in late 2018 on WW White and has recently signed a lease for a space at South Park Plaza that is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter.
Tru Fit Athletic Clubs entered the San Antonio market by acquiring Freedom Fitness’s San Antonio stores and have since taken a position at a former Academy Sports + Outdoors store on SW Military Drive and in the former Sears box at the intersection of Loop 410 and San Pedro. Each is an example of traditional retail spaces being backfilled by fitness concepts.
In addition to these larger-scale operators, boutique fitness users continue to expand. Orangetheory Fitness has grown its footprint and has committed to multiple locations in luxury neighborhood retail projects, including taking a prime endcap space at one of San Antonio’s premier mixed-use projects, Quarry Village. Yoga also continues to expand with the introduction of new franchise-driven concepts, HOTWORX and Black Swan Yoga being two prominent examples.
Health & Wellness
One of the hottest retail tenant categories in recent months has been health and wellness. Dental practices, optometrists and urgent care facilities have been expanding in retail positions for many years and continue to do so.
Pediatric urgent care continues to grow in popularity, with both Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care and Almouie Pediatrics taking multiple new positions in recent months while still looking for additional expansion opportunities.
New to the retail landscape are boutique wellness facilities. These include Stretch Lab, which provides personal and group stretching services, and Le Petit Med Spa, which is located within luxury neighborhood center Dominion Springs Plaza and offers organic skin care therapy and non-invasive med spa treatments. CBD resellers who offer legal health products that contain cannabidiol — cannabis with no THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects — are also taking retail positions.
San Antonio, like many major cities in the United States, is also experiencing momentum in its urban core. Frost Tower will be completed during the fourth quarter and offers the first new high-rise office tower to our skyline in over three decades.
Hemisfair Park, originally created to host the 1968 World’s Fair, is in the midst of a $200 million redevelopment that will bring multifamily, office, retail and restaurant uses to the property. The project will surround Civic Park, a nine-acre public park that will be financed in part with $21 million from the city’s most recent bond package.
The Baldwin at St. Paul Square, a 271-unit urban multifamily development, opened in spring 2018 and is currently 80 percent occupied, while construction has started on the third multifamily project within The Pearl mixed-use campus. This urban revitalization is making way for new restaurant and retail opportunities in San Antonio’s downtown market.
— By John Moake, partner, REATA Real Estate. This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Texas Real Estate Business magazine.