Downtown San Antonio Revived
Fifty-one years ago, in 1968, San Antonio, Texas hosted a world’s fair called HemisFair. After the fair closed, the 92-acre site slowly declined, and became a mostly vacant area that was falling apart and was visited only rarely by local residents.
Then in 2009, the mayor and other local politicians decided to revitalize the former fair grounds. The Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation was established. In 2011, Andres Andujar became CEO of the Corporation. And thereby hangs a tale.
Because Andres is a grandson of Juhász Zoltán, former co-owner of the erstwhile Gamma Works of Budapest (see the April 2012 issue of Magyar News Online). Zoltán had emigrated to Colombia after World War II, and harking back to an early 19th century ancestor, took back the family name of Andujar.
Andres (Andris) Andujar was born in Cali, Colombia, to Zoltán’s son András and his bride, Gábori Veronika. Andris came to the US to study architectural engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. Once he graduated, he moved to San Antonio where he first worked for a concrete manufacturer. Eventually, he went into design and project management of local projects, such as the San Antonio Central Library, the Hotel Valencia and expansion of the Convention Center; and in Austin the renovation and expansion of the Texas State Capitol.
Plans for the current Hemisfair revitalization include the construction of apartments, shops and parks, a hotel and an office building, all of which is expected to create a hub of growth. So far, the Yanaguana Garden children’s park has been open since 2015 and the first residential mix-use project will open this Spring (2019).
In an interview given to a local paper a few years ago, Andujar said,
”...places are defined as much by their physical spaces as by their people... the built environment is the communal space where citizens define their cities... Hemisfair presents us with an opportunity to do something on a large scale that can help manifest the pride that we have in our city...”
We can be proud of this ”Texas Power Broker”, as the San Antonio Express-News called him, because of his Hungarian roots. For he is proving once again that Hungarians will make their mark, even several generations after leaving the old country.