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Newly OK'd Alamo Plaza plan includes lots more trees, and glass walls NOT finalized

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'RECAPTURE THE SPACE'

San Antonio's City Council approved the basic concepts for massive changes to historic Alamo Plaza this week, but we've learned that the conceptual drawings we've seen so far are outdated and don't accurately represent some of what's being talked about now.

I talked with District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino in front of the Alamo after Thursday's vote.

While that unanimous 11-0 vote calls for restoring, repairing, and moving the Cenotaph, and takes the first steps to close parts of Alamo and Crockett streets, Trevino says it's also understood that there will be many more trees in the final product than in those early drawings. And he said there may be more changes ahead as planners hear more from the council and the public.

"What we simply said is we have to recapture the space," Trevino said.

The space he's talking about is almost all of the footprint of the original mission compound.

PLANTING MORE TREES, MOVING CENOTAPH

"So to recapture this space we have to close down these streets. And we have to relocate the Cenotaph. What we also reaffirmed [with the vote] was that these trees that are here today are not going to be cut down."

He also said they plan to keep them where they are.

"We want to place them back where they were. But they're at a higher elevation than the elevation that's proposed - which is about two feet below us. But we want more trees. We appreciate these trees. Over a hundred more trees will be planted in this area."

ABOUT THOSE WALLS

As for the controversial glass walls in those first drawings released of the Master Plan?

The council did not actually vote on those Thursday, so they're not set in stone - so to speak.

But the design team could very well include them in their final plan.

So what's the bottom line on those glass walls, which planners say will help indicate the location of the original mission walls?

"The bottom line is that we are going to be discussing our interpretation and we want people to feel very much engaged in that process," Trevino said.

They're now preparing a timeline for what's next, which will include meetings and updates and input from San Antonio's City Council and the public.

"We want people to know that we're not wanting to build barriers that keep people out of anything. We're trying to create a site that is telling... that is inclusive of people and stories and history."

VOTE NEEDED BEFORE LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS

Trevino and others involved also told me that they wanted to make sure the city council voted to OK the basic concepts of the plan now so that the state legislature can vote on it before adjourning at the end of the month.

State lawmakers are being asked to approve $75 million in state funds as part of the project.

But if they don't vote on it before the end of the month, planners would have to wait another two years for the possibility of that state funding.

The overall cost of the project, which is a partnership of the city, the state, and the private Alamo Endowment, is estimated at more than $350 million, some believe it could reach $450 million. Trevino told me he expects it could take five to seven years to complete.

HOPE TO HAVE IT COMPLETE BY 2024

They hope to have it finished in time for the 300th anniversary of the Alamo's present location in 2024.

The first location of what's Spanish missionaries established as 'Mission San Antonio de Valero' is believed to be near San Pedro Creek on the northwest side of downtown.

Work on that compound started in 1718, which is why San Antonio will celebrate its 300th birthday next year.

But construction of the mission we know today as the Alamo didn't begin until 1724.

Trevino said some people have a misconception that the Alamo Plaza renovation project is being 'rushed through' so it can be finished in time for San Antonio's Tricentennial celebration next year.

But he said that's not true.

Stay tuned to News 4 San Antonio for more updates - and more 'SA VOICE' segments with varying viewpoints on the developing plan.

HERE'S A LINK TO THE PLANNER'S WEBSITE 'REIMAGINE THE ALAMO'

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