Hays Street Bridge Project Goes to State Supreme Court Today

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

The six year battle over the future of the historic Hays Street Bridge goes to the Texas Supreme Court today, as a preservation group attempts to block developers from constructing high dollar apartments right next to the bridge, which spans the railroad tracks that run just east of the Alamodome, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

St. Mary's College of Law Professor Amy Kastely, who is the pro bono attorney for the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group says the high court is being asked to rule that the City of San Antonio violated an agreement it made to allow land it acquired near the bridge for 'landscaping improvements' and not for development.

Kastely says the City claims that it is immune from lawsuits because it legally transferred the land to a private developer, which was in line with its agreement.  The developer later decided to build apartments on the property.

"The Supreme Court will consider of whether the City has immunity against a breach of contract claim like that brought by the Hays Street restoration group," she said.

A lower court ruled in favor of the city.

Kastely says if the Supreme Court overturns the lower court ruling, that would allow the Restoration Group to proceed with a claim against the city for improper use of the land under the 2012 agreement.

"We would then be able to go forward and enforce the judgement that was entered in 2014 based on the jury's findings that the city had breached its contract with the restoration group," she said.

The Hays Street Bridge project has become a very visible symbol of the conflicts which have grown out of the growth of downtown in the past decade.

The Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group says the apartment complex, if construction, would represent 'creeping gentrification' which would raise housing values and property tax rates in the historic Dignowity Hill neighborhood on the city's east side, forcing people who have lived there for generations out of their homes and contributing to the city's growing homelessness problem.

The Hays Street Bridge, whis is the oldest iron 'long span' bridge west of the Mississippi, has become a prominent tourist and 'selfie' spot for its expansive views of downtown.  

The preservation group says that status would be destroyed if a large apartment building were to block the views of the bridge.

PHOTO COURTESY: Kristel A. Orta-Puente.  Used by Permission.

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