Avenida Guadalupe is a neighborhood on the west side of San Antonio, Texas. The area has critical urban problems like a growing crime rate and some obsolescent infrastructure base. At the same time, however, the neighborhood is the object of an urban renewal plan, the Avenida Guadalupe Neighborhood Improvement Plan. This Plan recommended the development of Guadalupe Plaza, the adjacent office and commercial area, and the cultural arts center. The majority of the recommendations have already been realized.
The 2020 Plan, prepared by local authorities assisted by the College of Architecture at UTSA, is a “continuing and expanded version of the Avenida Guadalupe Improvement study. It reflects many different options for housing, recreation, and commercial development that could impact the near West Side of San Antonio”, the people at the College of Architecture said. The 2020 Plan attempts to tackle the fast changes the area is undergoing, such as “rapid urban growth, increasing environmental stress, an increasingly obsolescent infrastructure base, changing land-use patterns and a growing housing problem”, according to experts from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The neighborhood also has a very active community association that´s leading many area improvement projects. From this view, the area seems to be heading to a brighter future. The main issue for the community is the increasing crime rate that is holding the place back, and the level of poverty which, apparently, provides a nurturing environment for criminal activities.
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The latest estimate, according to the US Census Bureau, is 8,130 people living in the neighborhood. Assuming that the different ratios remain similar to those of 2016, the average age for residents is 35.2. There are 0.9 men for every woman in the area, and 82.47% of the population is Caucasian while 0.47% of the population is African American. Only 0.68% of the population in Avenida Guadalupe is Asian. The rest of the community is American Indian, 1.19%, while people from Mixed or Other Race are 15.20% of the total population.
Regarding income, the vast majority, 66%, reports living on a regular salary. Another significant amount of residents say they live on Social Security and Public Assistance pensions and funds. 14% of the population lives on retirement pensions. Only 5% are self-employed and an even smaller percentage, 4%, reports living on their investments. Finally, 14% of the people in Avenida Guadalupe have other, or unknown sources of income. Poverty, or at least households living on a small or tight budget, comprises a big chunk of the population, as 69% of the households get an annual gross income of US$ 40,000 or less. Of this group, 24 % of the people report having an income of US$ 10,000 or less a year.
Avenida Guadalupe was initially a settlement, in the early 1900s, for San Antonio’s Mexican-American community. It was a commercial and cultural center. After decades of severe public and private neglect, the Avenida neighborhood became one of the city’s most impoverished and most physically deteriorated areas. Approaching the 1980s, a Master Plan was developed in response to this situation of deterioration and increasing poverty under the auspices of the Avenida Guadalupe Association, residents, businesspersons, and the City of San Antonio in cooperation with the San Antonio Development Agency (SADA) and the University of Texas at San Antonio. This Plan led to the implementation of a 3.5 block Urban Renewal Project developed to reverse the dismal situation and promote physical, economic, and cultural revitalization to increase the neighborhood’s ability to assume its traditional role in San Antonio and give neighbors a better quality of life.
The project included the renovation of the Guadalupe Theater as a Center for Mexican-American arts. The project has expanded to a new 2020 Plan that expects to give the area a fresh and revitalized facade as well as better business opportunities.
As mentioned above, security is one of the definite cons of the area. Crime rates have been increasing for several years in a row. Some sources, based on the FBI´s reports, mention near 10,000 crimes committed in 2016 in Avenida Guadalupe. Most of the crimes reported, 8,013, were against property, while 1,108 were violent crimes.
Some figures show why neighbors in the area don´t feel safe, especially when walking outside after sunset. A resident of Avenida Guadalupe has a chance in 11 of becoming the victim of a crime. For every 100,000 people, 24.99 daily crimes occur in the neighborhood. The interannual growth rate for offenses has been around 5% for several years and, according to recent news, it is not showing any improvement.
BUSINESS IN THE AREA
The urban renewal plan has brought new life to business operating in Avenida Guadalupe. The Guadalupe Theater is a Center for Mexican-American arts. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center works in the area and Davila Pharmacy, the foremost commercial anchor of the Avenida Guadalupe commercial corridor. This corridor embraces the concept of a new development area to facilitate business operations in the neighborhood. Adjacent to Davila Pharmacy is the Margarita Huantes Learning and Leadership Center. Plaza Guadalupe is drawing on all aspects of the community: religious, historical, economic and cultural and, in the words of David R. Díaz, it is “an explosion of color, form, and cultural identity.”
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THINGS TO DO
There are not many amenities in the neighborhood proper, apart from the ones brought by the public renovation process. However, since San Antonio is a tourist spot in Texas, the residents of Avenida Guadalupe and visitors can enjoy the Theaters, restaurants, shopping malls, parks and other attractions the city offers. Some of these attractions are the tours in and around the San Antonio River, the Alamo historic site, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Natural Bridge Caverns, an archaeological site. River Walk is a shopping and entertainment center with restaurants and stores. There are many different events offered, one of them is the Holiday Lights on the River Walk. They offer St. Patrick’s Day Art & Craft Show, and many other holidays tailored events.
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