future looks incredibly good
Web Posted: 02/16/2007 09:33 PM CST
San Antonio Express-News
As rock music throbbed to an end in a
video introducing NuStar Energy LP, a logo appeared for the pipeline
company formerly known as Valero LP.
"Swish," said NuStar Energy Holdings Chairman Bill Greehey. A Nike-like
semicircle zoomed out of the logo's star.
The moment crystallized the 2007 Economic Outlook Conference. San
Antonio's economy is wearing track shoes.
More than 500 people attended the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
event. They learned that data centers, military medicine, real estate, oil
and gas, and technology seed dollars are leading the pack to San Antonio's
After landing two huge data center investments last year from Microsoft
Corp. and Lowe's Cos. Inc., the city could reel in as many as six more of
the Internet equipment facilities in 2007, said Mario Hernandez, Economic
Development Foundation president.
Three local companies may build data centers, and three other
prospects are considering San Antonio, Hernandez said.
A clue came later in the conference when Westover Hills
developer Charles Martin "Marty" Wender departed early from the real
estate session he was chairing. He had to walk a possible data center
client through a site.
"I can't keep Intel waiting," Wender said as he exited the
Marriott Rivercenter Hotel meeting room.
San Antonio is also in line to become home to the largest medical school
in the world, with more than 9,000 military students. They will come to
Fort Sam Houston — if Congress ever allocates all of the $2.23 billion
needed for construction.
The House is holding back some of the funding for now, said Air
Force Gen. David G. Young III, 59th Medical Wing commander.
"The money will come," Young said. "How much? We'll see. But it
will be unprecedented."
"Unprecedented" would be an apt description for San Antonio's real estate
market in 2006. More than 19,000 new homes were constructed even as home
values appreciated 9 percent, said Barbara Tarin, former chairwoman of the
San Antonio Board of Realtors.
"But we might see the second best year" in 2007, she predicted.
The subdivisions selling homes most quickly and with the largest
increases in values are concentrated on the Northwest and North Central
sides, Tarin said.
Downtown, however, is seeing the biggest change of all. About
900 condominium units are under construction to add to the 180 units
already there. About 1,400 new apartments also are planned to expand on
the 1,800 already downtown.
"This is the best real estate market we've ever had," Tarin
A "swish" that might be discussed at next year's Economic
Outlook Conference is the possibility of landing a planned $500 million
federal laboratory, called the Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility. A U.S.
Homeland Security site selection team of 10 to 15 officials is scheduled
to visit San Antonio's three proposed sites May 7-9, said York Duncan,
president of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation.
A decision is expected next year.
And a new biotech incubator, the Texas Technology Development
Center, is coming. It will have 15,000 square feet of space in the
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio's new research
All of this seems to boost San Antonio into a new post-Toyota
plant phase. Now that the auto maker is turning out hundreds of Tundra
pickups every day, the business community looks to numerous new
directions. Of course, Toyota someday may double its plant here, putting
the automotive industry back in the forefront.
"People are optimistic," chamber President Joe Krier said. "I
think things are setting up to where the next 10 to 20 years will be among
the best in the city's 300-year history."