CPS Energy trustees present ambiguous plan for property adjacent to museum

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San Antonio – The future of a downtown property owned by CPS Energy is still uncertain, after CPS Energy directors voted 4-1 on Monday to pursue a plan to divest part of the property, but also to consider put options if that doesn’t work. t pan out.

The 7-acre utility property at the corner of West Jones Avenue and Camden Street borders the Riverwalk and the San Antonio Museum of Art. Public service administrators in 2015 declared it surplus property and agreed to donate the southern half to the San Antonio Art Museum, while selling the northern half. The utility and museum were unable to finalize a deal before the December 2019 deadline, however, and the transfer never took place.

CPS Energy’s surplus land at 326 W. Jones Avenue at the corner of Camden Street has been declared surplus since 2015. The original plan was to split the nearly 7-acre property in half, transferring the southern portion to the nearby museum in San Antonio. of art and sell the northern part. However, the land transfer was not finalized before the 2019 deadline. The trustees of CPS Energy were therefore due to discuss on Monday the advisability of continuing to give the land to SAMA or of regrouping it with the northern part for them. sell together.

Six years later, the utility is in a different financial situation, predicting a likely rate hike and dealing with 76,000 overdue accounts on the brink of disconnection. The Bexar County Valuation District valued the two halves of the property at around $ 11 million each, and CPS CEO Paula Gold-Williams told the trustees that the proceeds from a sale could be used to help customers.

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Against this background, CPS Energy staff on Monday asked the trustees to advise them on how to manage the property – either to go ahead with donating the southern part to the museum or to consolidate the two halves of the property to market it and sell it.

Given the two options, however, the trustees seemed to choose both.

Chairman of the Board, Willis Mackey, proposed “to allow the CEO to explore all marketing options for the sale of the entire property, with continued discussion with SAMA on the most suitable use. high and best in ownership, ”which the rest of the board, with the exception of director John Steen, argued.

Steen, who said he didn’t want to see the museum cut off from discussions, asked what the real direction was.

“Is it just that we’re basically removing SAMA from that, but we’re saying ‘because you’re a neighbor we’ll keep discussing this with you?’ “, Asked Steen.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who sits on the board by virtue of his role as mayor of San Antonio, offered an interpretation of the motion that Mackey and administrator Ed Kelley seemed to agree with.

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“My reading and interpretation of the motion is to authorize the CEO to enter into discussions with them, to reach a resolution on this matter,” Nirenberg said. “We need to close with this, and ultimately, if no resolution can be found with SAMA, then we allow the CEO to market the property, but we hope there is a mutually acceptable solution to this.”

Steen wondered if that meant Gold-Williams could unilaterally decide that the negotiations with SAMA were not working and decide to market the property on its own. The CEO said she “will come back to the board like I do with all the properties.”

“I think you all gave me instructions many years ago to come back and share this with you while I am making important decisions. So I’m going to do it, ”Gold-Williams said.

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