UTSA's Urban Future Lab Takes on the City's South Side

The Urban Future Lab at UTSA is tackling its biggest canvas yet---the city's entire south side.

News Radio 1200 WOAI reports that, in conjunction with the Southside First Economic Development Council, the lab, which studies how to make the city of the future more functional and user friendly, is trying to come up with ways that can happen for the roughly 300,000 people who live on the South side.

"Looking at the south side, how can we addres general inequality," Urban Future Lab director and UTSA architecture professor Antonio Petrov told News Radio 1200 WOAI.

Petrov say the city has focused on 'nodes' of disadvantages areas, for example the Pearl area, but has never focused its resources on trying to improve an entire section of the city.

"Access to parks, walkable streets, better schools, better jobs, everything a little more accessible," he said.

The south side, which has long been a stepchild in the city's economic development efforts, is experiencing a renaissance for several reasons.  

The highly successful Brooks and Port San Antonio developments have brought new employers, colleges, and amenities to the area.  The proximity to the Eagle Ford shale oil fields has led to economic growth as well, and the designation of the Spanish Colonial Missions as World Heritage Sites have made the region an international tourism destination.

But Petrov says despite all this, many parts of the south side remain cut off from economic growth, and the benefits that come with that growth.

He says the results of the research will be turned over to City Council and to other development agencies.

The Urban Future Lab has a reputation for 'out of the box' thinking.  It was Petrov who proposed a modern elevated trolley, kind of like a ski lift, to transport people from downtown to the airport, speeding travel times and cutting down on highway congestion.

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