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Alameda Finally On The Rise With Council Approval

Alameda Theater

San Antonio City Council has signed an agreement to restore the Alameda Theater on Houston Street, 23 years after the city acquired a landmark considered “one of the last grand movie palaces built in America,” according to Cinema Treasures.

The Alameda was once the largest movie theater dedicated to Spanish-language films in the country, with stereo sound, Bodiform chairs and an 86-foot marquee. Mexican film greats Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, Maria Felix and Vicente Fernandez all performed on its stage. Singing cowboy Gene Autry was a surprise guest at the Alameda’s opening in 1949, offering a Spanish ballad prior to a screening of the film “Revancha.”

“I cannot stress enough how critical it is to preserve culturally significant spaces like the Alameda as they help tell the rich story of our city and serve as reminders and inspiration to future generations,” District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño said in a statement after the vote. “This joint investment would not be possible without the partnership between the La Familia Cortez, the City, the County and Texas Public Radio.” 

Plans for the theater have languished for almost two decades, except for minor upgrades to maintain the façade and roof. Last week’s agreement among the four public-private partners — the city, Bexar County, Alameda Theater Conservancy and Texas Public Radio — will authorize a $23M spending goal, most of which will come from the city-county Houston Street Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.

Texas Public Radio will operate in renovated space, which will also include a theater, a black box theater, an orchestra pit and an outdoor amphitheater, according to the Express News. Construction would begin next summer, with a goal to open the theater in 2020.

The Alameda will be only one of a number of projects to revitalize an area designated a state cultural arts district. The city’s $175M San Pedro Creek Improvement Project will add a linear park alongside the Alameda. The nearby $142M 23-story Frost Bank Tower, which broke ground in March, will be the first office tower to go up Downtown since 1989.