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A little lot of land goes FARR

image FARR Builders brought new life to the Highland Park community with its recent project, Nopal Street Villas, which was developed by Ciano Properties.

SAN ANTONIO - With the vision that would develop a small plot of land no one seemed interested in improving, FARR Builders turned an infill property into a highly desirable place to live in Highland Park, two miles south of downtown, off of I-37 and Fair Avenue.





    Nopal Street Villas was a unique project that brothers Steven and Daniel Garcia developed as Ciano Properties and built as FARR Builders. The construction of 10 apartment units on the half-acre lot took approximately eight months, but the preparation to begin construction took two years. As the owners and builders of the multi-family property, Steven and Daniel faced multiple challenges from both sides.
    Located at 2335 Nopal St., the property sits on the street right behind FARR’s office and it had remained un-touched. Since Steven and Daniel would be involved in the development and construction, it made it feasible for them to purchase the property and bring new life to it.
    The first big hurdle was zoning, needing to go from R4 to MF-18 to be able to fit 10 apartment units. The Garcias earned the support of the local community and the Highland Park Neighborhood Association. Then, when they applied for the re-zoning, they already had support for their plan for the property from the community and District 3, having met with Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran.
    Next came the parking variances. The property would need to incorporate head-in parking to meet the requirement for 15 parking spaces – 1.5 spaces per unit. The Garcias made the case that the property sits on a side street, and following a traffic count, they were able to meet the low-traffic requirement and were allowed to include the head-in parking.
    Teaming up with local firms Mogas Architecture on the design and Gomez-Garcia & Associates on the MEP engineer-ing, FARR was able to build 10 apartment units with three floorplans, including 2-bedroom/1-bath and 3-bedroom/2-bath units. The two bedrooms are 902sf, and the three bedrooms are 1,132sf for a total of 9,632sf of interior living space.
    The interiors are furnished with stained concrete floors, black appliances, and stackable washers and dryers. As for the outdoor space, there is a courtyard on the front side of the property, and each apartment has its own backyard. The backyards range from 10x10 to 10x20.
    “It’s your traditional home, but it has modern features to it, like the electrical fixtures and the stained concrete,” explains Steven, who was project manager for the job. “There are some accents that modernize it. The exterior is all fully irrigated. All the yards and the vegetation in the front are green year-round.”
    FARR Builders self-performed all of the work for the project. The site work, excavation, foundation, stained concrete, installation of appliances and other aspects of the job were done in house. Other major aspects of the job included running the sewer and the water main to the apartment complex. They had to add a new pole and transformer on the property.
    The result of all their work is a property that FARR can be proud to have built and Ciano is proud to own and operate. Nopal Street Villas has been full since it opened for business.
    “A lot of the tenants we have now grew up in this area,” says Steven. “They have families that live in this area, and they wanted to move back into something nice, and this area really didn’t offer anything with amenities like ours. So, as soon an apartment is available, we lease it out right away – within a day.”
    The Garcia brothers note that a lot of community members helped make this happen. Though they had not worked with Jefferson Bank before, Joseph De La Garza, senior vice president of commercial lending, pushed for them to be approved, and Steven says that without De La Garza and Jefferson Bank, this project never would have come to fruition.
    They also worked with the Center City Development Office on its CCHIP (Center City Housing Incentive Policy), which gave them grants and incentives, paying impact fees for SAWS and permit fees for the city. The project fell within the office’s ICRIP (Inner City Reinvestment and Infill Policy) area, where they are focusing on development that will bring revitalization.
    “We grew up in the area,” says Steven. “And we haven’t really seen too many people or investors putting their money into this side of town, and we know the demand on this side of town, and we know what kind of people live here. Once we did this development, all the neighbors and community were very happy with it, because it helped beautify the area.”
    Additionally, Daniel, who is vice presi-dent of business development for FARR, adds that he feels their grandparents who began the company and their father and uncles who took it over from the first generation would be proud of what FARR’s third generation did with this project.   
    Established by Felix and Mary Lou Garcia in 1982, FARR Builders originally started in concrete contracting and expanded into com-mercial and residential construction. –mh

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Mary Hazlett mary@constructionnews.net