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Will the Friedrich project finally move forward?

Project managers said they received a conditional approval Friday.

SAN ANTONIO — Some of the parents at the IDEA Carver school are fed up with the danger posed by the old, abandoned Friedrich complex next to the school on East Commerce.

After a decomposing body was found in the building Thursday, there is a renewed push for demolition - an action that was promised a long time ago.

San Antonio Police were called to the building by a maintenance worker who noticed a foul smelling coming from a third floor bathroom.

The worker told police he found the body and called for help.

Police said they are investigating, but they said it appears as though the person died of natural causes.

Neither his name nor autopsy results have been released. 

Since at least March, officials with the San Antonio Housing Trust have been saying that as soon as the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development approves the project, the part of the compound that is not historic will fall to the wrecking ball.

But this project was announced in mid-2018 and there has been virtually no visible progress since then.

Many parents are boiling with frustation.

Annalisa Perales, who has had two children attending the school for the past five years, said "You have beer cans, you have graffiti cans.  There's, I saw needles the other day on the other side of the sidewalk and that's public property!  That's the city!  Look!  There's marijuana joints right there and I'm,  this just needs to go!"

Inspecting a rickety cyclone fence that surrounds the parcel, Perales said "This is just a cesspool of crime written all over it.  This is what I see it as. This is just a nest for pedophiles and drug addicts and people just wait around and have a stake out to wait for any little children that comes by to take them over the fence and boom! We'll never see them again."

In March, the San Antonio Fire Department responded to a series of small fires in the building.

A woman was arrested on an arson charge, but months later, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

The long-abandoned manufacturing building is supposed to be torn down to make way for 350 new apartment units.

But after years of bureaucratic red tape, HUD, which has a financial connection to the deal, on Friday, gave a conditional approval for the start of the abatement process.   The project manager said progress will not come quickly. 

There will have to be permits, environmental testing, abatement and TCEQ approval. But they said maybe they could move forward with construction on this $60 million dollar investment one year from now.

The San Antonio Housing Trust website describes the project like this:

"Friedrich Lofts – Private Equity Structure

The SAHT PFC partnered with PRA Realty Group to convert approximately 4 acres of blighted industrial vacant buildings into 358 units of rental housing at 1617 E. Commerce in Council District 2.  This apartment community has 24 units reserved for those at 60% AMI, 155 units reserved for those at 80% AMI, and 179 units at market rents. This project cost approximately $60 million at the time of development. The project will close equity financing in August 2022 and commence demolition."

The project was first announced in 2018 and a developer is working on the new residential space.

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