Whenever I visit my home town of San Antonio, Texas, I can usually be heard lamenting all the new big box retail complexes and McMansion neighborhoods that have popped up in this ever-expanding city. Well, this year I was thrilled to discover something quite different and wonderful. The old Pearl Brewery, founded on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1883, has been undergoing a transformation into Texas's largest solar project and a mixed-use residential, retail, office, and educational complex.
The 22-acre property includes a number of buildings both historic and new. At its center is the 67,000 square foot Full Goods Building, formerly the brewery warehouse, which has been outfitted with 200-kilowatt solar panels. Developer Silver Ventures and CPS Energy expect the project to generate one-quarter of the building's energy needs. An information kiosk shows residents and visitors the amount of power produced in real time. The building also has an energy-efficient heating and cooling system, rainwater collection and storage system, and drought-resistant landscaping.
The Pearl complex is not yet complete, but it's already home to a handful of loft living spaces, restaurants, a bookstore, the AIA Center for Architecture, and the Culinary Institute of America. I have personally never found mixed residential-retail spaces very appealing, but I could for a moment see myself enjoying life here. Pearl sits alongside a section of the river that has undergone revitalization with native trees and grasses, and there's a weekly farmers' market with fresh, local food. It's a fun, vibrant space with plenty of green living potential.
For more information, visit Pearl Brewery.
(Images: Emily Ho)