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Alamo City Chamber response to Bexar County

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DEAR MR. SMITH:

We (The Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce) received your letter dated July 17, 2018 “suspending” the Agreement. While the Chamber is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the County, we are disappointed with both the suspension and the manner in which the suspension arose.

As a reminder of how the Agreement materialized:

The Chamber was approached around January of 2018 regarding the results of Bexar County’s UTSA AABE study. The study demonstrated rather clearly that, despite existing programs in the County, African-American Business Enterprises (“AABE”) accounted for merely 3.8% of all firms in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area. The study further identified that these businesses faced barriers to contracting and advancement that could be ameliorated with management assistance and training. Despite the desire and stated commitment to alleviate this problem and prior initiatives regarding the same from numerous parties (and even the County’s own DBE department), the community continued to experience a gap in the availability and capacity of African-American Business Enterprises.

Founded in 1938, the Chamber is the third oldest black chamber of commerce in the United States. The Chamber has a diverse mix of board members and relationships with other, similarly aligned organizations. The Chamber is thus a natural partner for matters affecting the black business community in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area.

After being approached to propose a resolution to the issues identified in the UTSA AABE Study, the Chamber spent months developing a proposal for a program that would train and equip both African American Business Enterprises and other underserved businesses in the County to bid on County contracts and ultimately succeed in becoming contracting partners with the County. The first contract/grant proposal was presented to the County on or about January 4, 2018. Between January 2018 and March 2018, the County’s staff and the Chamber closely collaborated, and the Chamber received feedback on requested adjustments and capacity building that the County sought in order for the Chamber to be a grant recipient.

The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program.

The Chamber and Black Contractor’s Association then made a public presentation and request for approval of the Chamber’s proposal (and the Agreement) to the full Bexar County Commissioner’s Court on March 13, 2018 along with a proposed budget. Program goals and solutions were presented in detail, including proposed partnerships, performance measurement, and the Chamber’s capacity for goal achievement. The Chair of the County’s SWMBE Advisory Committee, Chris Forbrich, and Renee Watson, the County’s SWMBE manager, were in attendance (Ms. Watson made a presentation regarding AABE’s immediately prior to the Chamber’s presentation). Frank Dunn and Margaret Wilson-Anaglia, members of the County’ SWMBE Advisory Committee, were also in attendance. Joe Linson, another member of the SWMBE Advisory Committee, voiced his support for the Chamber’s proposal during the Chamber’s presentation commenting that “this has been vetted.” Commissioner Kevin Wolff asked various questions about the program’s reach and performance metrics, which the Chamber addressed, including multiple clarifications that the reach of the program was not limited to AABEs. Commissioner Tommy Calvert highlighted the program’s ongoing reporting requirements. Commissioner Paul Elizondo commented on the goal of developing local businesses within the Bexar County metro area to help fill the gap in such a manner that programs like the Chamber’s proposal became unnecessary. The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program. Video of the presentation is available on the County’s website.

See more: Full Response at Alamo City Chamber website

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More Shake Up at SAGE – Interim CEO Resigns

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In just two months time, one of the most revered nonprofits on the East Side has had a shake up.

First, longtime CEO Jackie Gorman departed in late September. Now, interim CEO Akeem Brown has also resigned. The San Antonio Business Journal reported Friday that Brown left the organization only after two months in his new position. According to his LinkedIn page, he’s been with SAGE for a little more than two years and previously served as its director of operations. Prior to joining SAGE, Brown worked with former Councilman Alan Warrick as a director of communication and policy. 

The recent turnover in executive staff at SAGE raises questions of who will lead the organization forward especially during a time when many investors are looking at the area for redevelopment.

Earlier this year, the San Antonio Express-News reported on Gorman and SAGE’s efforts to bring change to the East Side, which often gets stereotyped for having high crime statistics. It reported that during Gorman’s tenure, investors are seeing the area differently now to refurbishing homes and building retail shops.

In spite of SAGE’s efforts, it has drawn some criticism as well. A 2016 News 4 Trouble Shooters story questioned why SAGE and other organizations were slow to invest more grant money on the East Side. In 2014, a portion of the East Side was designated one of the nation’s first “promise zones,” which made it eligible for millions in federal grants.

To read the story on Gorman from BlackVideoNews, go here.

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What to Expect from a Home Inspection

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

For most people, buying a house is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. People often spend months searching for their dream home, and when they finally find what appears to be it, they can’t wait to buy it. But we all know looks can be deceiving, so before the packing starts, it’s a good idea to get a home inspection.

Here’s what you can expect from a home inspection.

An inspection is usually done after a house is under contract, meaning a signed offer has been accepted. If you are working with a real estate agent, he or she can provide a list of licensed inspectors for you to choose from. The house will be inspected for structural defects and pests (crawling critters, not annoying family members).

All lenders require a Wood Destroying Insect Report on pre-existing homes before funds will be advanced for the sale. The report will state if the home has an infestation or damage from a previous infestation and if the house has been previously treated for termites.

Sheds are a haven for termites, so they also should be inspected. One client I was working with had an old shed on a property torn down at the buyer’s request. Sure enough, the shed was full of termites and the house was also infested. The shed was removed, and the seller paid for the termite treatment, which was not cheap.

Keep in mind the Wood Destroying Insect Report must be done within 30 days of closing, so it’s a good idea to have this inspection done last in case there’s a delay in closing.

After the structure of the house is examined, the inspector will issue a report on the roof, foundation, heating and cooling system, electrical system, plumbing and other visible defects. Common issues inspectors find include damage from moisture, aging roofs, heating/cooling defects, termite damage, and improperly installed insulation.

Cracked or shifting foundations also are common in South Texas. I had another client who had found what she thought was the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. The home looked flawless at the showing. An offer was made and accepted, and she was anxious to move forward with the deal. At last, she would be getting the home she had been waiting for. But then, the inspection report came back and it revealed that the beautiful house in the perfect neighborhood had a cracked foundation. This is a perfect example of looks being deceiving and the precise reason a good licensed inspector is crucial.

In older homes, especially in rural areas, the wiring can be a problem. It’s not uncommon for inspectors to find it to be outdated. In general, they will check to see if the house has sufficient electrical capacity needed to power today’s appliances safely.

Once the inspector finishes the report, you and your agent will receive a copy. Decisions will be made about which items need to be addressed before moving forward with the deal. The buyer’s agent will send repair requests to the seller’s agent, and both parties should sign off on which items will be repaired. If you are the seller, make sure you keep all your repair receipts. If you are the buyer, make sure you ask to see them during the final walk-through.

The long summers in South Texas means air conditioning systems are running most of the year, so potential buyers often request that sellers pay for routine maintenance on the heating and cooling system before closing on the house.

And while it might be tempting to save some cash and have your uncle with a tool belt look at the system, I’d recommend that, unless he’s licensed, you politely decline the offer and hire a licensed professional, in which the state requires. Inspectors say a lot of the problems they see are caused by unlicensed Mr. Fix-its.

The buyer, unless he or she is financing with a VA loan, usually pays for both the general structural inspection and the Wood Destroying Insect Report, but like anything else, this is negotiable. The cost varies depending on the size of the house, but expect to spend from $300 to $500 for the structural report. A Wood Destroying Insect Report will cost around $160. Depending on the inspector, these costs can be paid upfront or at closing.

So now you know what to expect from a home inspection.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Don Johnson, Realtors. Contact Lisa at 210-380-9006 or lhrivas@realsa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Re-Inventing the Other Side of the Tracks

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Just South of the Alamodome, near the Denver Heights neighborhood, there’s a buzz going on – an old pallet manufacturing site – now holds ongoing events that feature art and community engagement.

If you take a look at the social media pages of Essex Modern City, it seems like a hip new company is using the space at Essex and Cherry streets  on the East Side to hold pop-up events that showcase beautiful murals and tasty food trucks. However its developers – Sacramento-based Harris Bay – is trying to create excitement about Essex Modern City, an 8-acre, mixed-use development that will feature office space, apartments, restaurants and retail.

But the project has yet to break ground. According to the San Antonio Business Journal, the developer is working on trying to designate the area as a quiet zone from the noisy trains in the area. In the article, the developer said its hopeful construction will begin in the first quarter of 2019.

According to CREO, the architecture firm for the project, Essex Modern City is expected to be a one-of-kind project for the Alamo City, which “returns the focus to the people, both those who live there and visit, by making it a walkable community with vehicular access limited to emergency and service access. The large central plaza and extensive green space throughout provides a venue for events and exhibits for residents and visitors.”

Though instead of construction, there’s still something to see at this location. On the second Saturday of each month, visitors can mix and mingle with local and national street artists, musicians and vendors who showcase their talent, and passion.

 

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