Tourist attractions leave Alamo Plaza buildings, making way for a new museum and visitor center

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Removing a major roadblock to the long-awaited transformation of Alamo Plaza, a tourist attractions operator has agreed to vacate two buildings on the plaza’s west side to make way for a $140 million Alamo museum and visitor center of dollars.

Phillips Entertainment Inc., a San Antonio-based company, leases space in the historic Woolworth and Palace buildings for three attractions: Tomb Rider 3D Adventure Ride & Arcade, Guinness World Records Museum, and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.

The company’s lease runs until 2027 and 2028 for different parts of the two buildings. This posed a problem for the redevelopment of the site as the 100,000 square foot Alamo Museum is scheduled for completion in 2026.

On Wednesday, the Texas General Land Office announced that it had reached an agreement with Phillips to vacate the leased space by Oct. 31. The GLO acquired the two buildings and a third in the same block in 2015.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The agreement removes what had been a significant impediment to the development of the museum and visitor center. The project is the centerpiece of a nearly $400 million public-private transformation of the Alamo mission and battle site.

Alamo Plaza, with the Alamo in the lower left corner, is visible in this 2015 aerial photo. The white marble cenotaph is visible to the right of the image in front of three buildings belonging to the Texas General Land Office.


Photo from personnel file
People walk near Ripley's Haunted Adventure across from the Alamo in this 2018 photo.

People walk near Ripley’s Haunted Adventure across from the Alamo in this 2018 photo.


Photo from personnel file
Rosemary Borchardt, visiting from Alaska, takes photos during a 2015 horse-drawn carriage ride past the building being sold to the Texas General Land Office.

Rosemary Borchardt, visiting from Alaska, takes photos during a 2015 horse-drawn carriage ride past the building being sold to the Texas General Land Office.


Contributor file photo


The two Alamo Plaza buildings that will house the 100,000 square foot museum are currently leased to Tomb Rider 3D Adventure Ride & Arcade, Guinness World Records Museum and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. (File photos)

“We are delighted to have been able to reach a mutual agreement with the General Land Office regarding the future of some of our Alamo Plaza businesses,” Phillips Entertainment said in a statement released by its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Davis Phillips. . The company has been renting space in both buildings since 2002.

The Land Office called the deal “an historic step towards the creation of the future Alamo museum and visitor center”.

The Woolworth and Palace buildings are partly within the historic boundaries of the mission fort. Other businesses in the Woolworth building include a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop just outside the historic footprint.

For years, residents and visitors have said entertainment operations were inappropriate for the site of San Antonio’s first permanent Hispanic-Indigenous mission and the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, in which hundreds of soldiers Mexicans and Anglo and Tejano defenders of the Alamo were killed.

Parts of the Alamo plaza and grounds are believed to have been used as cemeteries in the 1700s and 1800s. At least 1,300 burials have been recorded in the area

In announcing the lease agreement with Phillips, Lands Commissioner George P. Bush highlighted the site’s ties to the 13-Day Siege and the battle for Texas independence.

“We owe it to every Texan to protect the sacred sanctuary of freedom and independence. Our goal is to tell the story of the battle of 1836 and showcase Texas’ bravest defenders who gave their lives for freedom Bush said. “This agreement is a significant step forward in restoring respect and dignity to the sacred lands of the Alamo.”

Officials from the Land Office, the City of San Antonio, and the nonprofit Alamo Trust, which form the three-party partnership leading to the Alamo’s renovation, plan to preserve the 1882 Crockett Building and the Woolworth Building, which dates from 1921, as part of the new museum complex.

A curator has recorded scans of the structures, ‘so that we can determine exactly how much we can save on the historic buildings of Crockett Block, which we are passionate about,’ Alamo Trust executive director Kate Rogers told the Commission. Texas history. Last week.

The architects are also working on a conceptual design for a 4D theater to be placed within the row of historic buildings. They coordinate the design of the exhibits with a team led by Patrick Gallagher, Program Manager for the Alamo Project.

Phillips Entertainment said it would continue to operate its other attractions elsewhere in San Antonio. The company has two Extreme Escape locations on the North Side, as well as the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, the Texas Ranger Museum, and the Amazing Mirror Maze downtown. She plans to soon open a “Texas/San Antonio-themed retail business” called Viva SA.TX at the south end of the square.

Just over a year ago, Alamo’s long-planned makeover seemed to have stalled.

Some of the project’s major fundraisers pulled out after the Texas Historical Commission denied a permit to move the Cenotaph, a monument to Alamo defenders that has stood in the plaza since the 1930s.

In March, city officials announced a “reset” of the project and installed new leaders who helped craft a new redevelopment plan.

Alamo officials have completed two outdoor exhibits at the plaza in 2021 and hope to complete construction by the end of 2022 of a nearly $20 million, $24,000 exhibit hall and collections building. square feet that will house some of the more than 400 battle-era artifacts donated by rock star Phil Collins, an Alamo enthusiast.

The city is also developing a plan to repair the 56-foot-tall cenotaph in consultation with the Alamo Trust and the Texas Historical Commission. Experts believe rainwater seepage into the monument caused cracks and displaced some of its exterior marble panels.

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