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Community Renewal Good Stories - San Antonio

San Antonio Turns One Empowerment Zone Incentive Into Two Hotels

San Antonio, Texas Empowerment Zone

East Side of the Drury Plaza Hotel
East Side of the Drury Plaza Hotel

The Empowerment Zone (EZ) program has been a catalyst for major public improvements in Downtown San Antonio. Two major projects, the Drury Plaza and Grand Hyatt Hotels, would not have been possible without the generous financial assistance of the Empowerment Zone.

The EZ program is designed to promote economic development in distressed areas by providing federal tax incentives, such as employment tax credits and tax exempt bond financing, for businesses that operate within the EZ and employ EZ residents.  The San Antonio EZ received $230 million in tax exempt bond capacity to offer to qualifying businesses within the EZ, provided at least 35% of the business's residents are EZ residents. 

The Grand Hyatt Hotel opened its doors in downtown San Antonio in March 2008.   The City was able to construct this 1,000-room full-service hotel thanks to a $130 million EZ Facility Bond allocated by the City Council in 2003.  This new hotel, adjacent to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, helps to ensure that San Antonio will be at the forefront of new business and revitalization opportunities. The full-service hotel employs 600-800 living wage jobs and has strengthened San Antonio's national position in the "Hospitality and Tourism" industry.

West Side of the Drury Plaza Hotel
West Side of the Drury Plaza Hotel

The Drury Plaza Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk, a $77 million hotel project located in downtown San Antonio, was made a reality with the help of the same Empowerment Zone tax incentive. In June 2004, the San Antonio City Council reserved up to $40 million in EZ bond capacity for the project.  San Antonio used this bond authority to completely renovate the former Alamo National Bank Building into a 300-room first class hotel that includes meeting space and a Riverwalk restaurant. Additionally, 62 new suites and extended stay hotel rooms were built on top of the existing parking garage.  Total job creation included 67 direct jobs and more than 200 construction jobs over the two-year construction period.

The City of San Antonio recognizes the EZ program as an invaluable asset to the development of a greater San Antonio for years to come.  The EZ program is effective through December 31, 2009 but San Antonio is among the EZ communities across the nation working together to get Congress to extend the program to 2015.

For more information on the programs of the San Antonio EZ, contact EZ Manager Barbara Ankamah at (210) 207-8080, or visit the EZ Web site at