Alamo plan fizzles, entertainment district forgotten

Davis Philips tells Randy Beamer that politics are responsible for the failure to move forward with a redeveloped Alamo Plaza, highlighted by the recent rejection of plans to move the Cenotaph. (SBG Photo)

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How much money has been spent? And what have we accomplished? Because what I've seen is politics have taken root and ego and turf protection.

In this week’s edition of the San Antonio’s Voice podcast, businessman Davis Phillips calls out the leaders responsible for the Alamo plan and the fact it's in limbo right now.

Phillips owns several tourist attractions across the street from the Alamo and has served on the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee since it was created in 2014.

He says politics are to blame for the failure to move forward with a redeveloped Alamo Plaza, highlighted by the Texas Historical Commission’s recent rejection of plans to move the Cenotaph 500 feet to the south in front of the Menger Hotel.

Phillips says the uncertainty is putting many businesses downtown in limbo along with future of a long-talked-about Entertainment District, to be created somewhere outside Alamo Plaza.

That district would house companies like Phillips’, which could be forced to relocate because of Alamo Plaza’s redevelopment. But Phillips says, if it’s done right, it would also attract new businesses to San Antonio.

I know of a handful of companies in our industry, who are sitting here waiting, tapping their feet, waiting for the city of San Antonio and the state of Texas to get their act together.
A lot of people want to come in and invest because of the potential success in this market. But as it stands, everybody's just sitting back, us included. We're not expanding and doing different things right now in the core of downtown because who the hell knows what's going to be going on?

San Antonio’s City Council will get an update on the status of the Alamo plans and the work going on in the area at a special meeting Thursday at 1:00 pm. They’re also expected to take a look at the long-term lease deal the city agreed to with the state two years ago.

The lease calls for the state to manage the city-owned plaza for 50 years.

But because the Cenotaph is not being moved, it’s possible that the city of San Antonio could try to change or void the lease. Phillips is concerned about that and the possibility that during next year's session of the legislature, Texas lawmakers could try to take control of the Alamo from the General Land Office and give it to some other state agency.

A number of high-profile members of the private Alamo Trust have also reportedly signaled they're no longer part of the long-term plan, after the decision to scrap the move of the Cenotaph.

Phillips is worried that any big changes could kill all the progress made so far.

If the Cenotaph is going to stay, then figure it out work around that. But the worst thing that could happen at this moment is that for the city, to say that the entire process has to start from scratch.

Phillips is the President and CEO of Phillips Entertainment, Inc. operating Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Guinness World Records Museum, and Tomb Rider 3D Adventure Ride and Arcade. He started the company in 2001 and now employs more than 200 people. Phillips formed the first ever Attractions Committee in San Antonio in 2005 that continues to meet regularly sharing information on the issues and trends affecting the attractions industry. He also serves on the board of directors of the San Antonio Tourism Council and served as its Chairman of the Board in 2011 and 2012, and again in 2019.

Contact Randy Beamer
Phone: (210) 366-1151