April 19


Growing pains in the gayborhood

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschA rainbow flag waves under Old Glory on a tall flagpole at the corner of Main and Laurel, broadcasting pride and unity in the stiff March breeze. But under the bright bands of color there are rumblings of discontent between the old good-time boys and a new gay lifestyle that's mainstream, diurnal, and a cornerstone of the area's economic comeback.

The Pegasus works on a venerable college-town formula: don't spend money if you don't have to. A wooden fence high enough to block prying eyes runs up to the property line, extending the party into the parking lot – one of a handful of differently themed bars within a bar – with a small stage and frequent barbecues. The Facebook page promises $2 happy-hour wells and themed drag shows, as well as plenty of events designed for revelers of all stripes (this weekend: I Love the '90s; March 17: a Naughty Leprechaun party).


Macon's rough ride

Illustration by Jeremiah TeutschOutfitted in her signature red blazer, attorney-lobbyist Jane Macon worked the room on October 26, weaving between tables on the floor of Freeman Coliseum and chatting with San Antonio's other movers and shakers. The only difference from the countless other such occasions was the pet llama shadowing her.

The event was County Judge Nelson Wolff's "State of the County" speech, and its sponsor, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, had inexplicably settled on a county-fair theme. Popcorn centerpieces, a lunch of fish tacos, fried veggies, cups of corn, and funnel-cake dessert, and a petting zoo that included miniature horses, straight from Macon's ranch near the Hill Country town of Twin Sisters.

The event highlighted Macon's access to Bexar County's powers that be, her knack for winning and keeping friends through organizational teamwork, her outsize persona, and even her love of animals, which has evolved into an odd side business for a Fulbright & Jaworski partner.


Overcoming Verano's arrested development

In 2006, a group of Las Vegas investors slipped into town and began buying some South Side properties and optioning others through paper companies that existed to obscure the buyer's identity, a tactic commonly used by major assemblers of land. By the time Triple L Management ended its buying spree, it had spent about $55 million for roughly 3,000 acres between Toyota's pickup plant and Loop 410 South. The out-of-towners paid with cash, stunning SA's real estate community and touching off a flurry of lame jokes about the mob's newfound interest in San Antonio. But more importantly, the display of financial muscle helped create huge expectations, every bit as much as the dazzling blueprint for a master planned community produced by Scott Polikov's Austin-based Gateway Planning.


The play's quietest winners

Illustration by Martha StroudThe Eagle Ford shale, the sinewy seam of oil and natural gas that spans 24 counties in South Texas, is throwing off new jobs, packing restaurants, hotel rooms, and apartments across the region with roughnecks, sparking startup businesses to meet the oil and gas companies' needs, and fattening the general funds of local governments that have rarely seen flush times. A San Antonio traveler recently marveled at something he'd never seen before: a traffic jam in Dilley. This is the loudest part of the boom that started in 2008. In February, a study by UTSA's Center for Community and Business Research predicted 67,971 full-time jobs created across the vein by 2020, $21.5 billion in revenue, and $1.1 billion in tax payments and fees handed to the state.

San Antonio is too far north for the kind of exploration and speculation that's gripped South Texas, but it, too, is cashing in. It's just happening less raucously, though here job creation likewise is in full swing. Major oilfield services companies — Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Baker Hughes — have selected or are considering SA for staging areas for clients working in what's come to be known simply as "the play." That means all kinds of new jobs — trucking, IT, engineering, some administrative. At the same time, exploration companies are renting office space here, whetting the appetites of officials who would love for San Antonio to become an administrative outpost for the energy industry, a junior Houston. The UTSA study forecasts the play will create nearly 4,000 new jobs by 2020, increasing the County's share of the Gross State Product by $394.5 million.

"That study is looking conservative," said Keith Phillips, senior economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank's San Antonio branch. That's considering the rapidly climbing number of drilling permits in the shale region.

But it's not all spectacle.


The messy Clean Tech Forum

Illustration by Martha StroudSan Antonio can’t claim to have well-funded, influential think tanks that help set the agenda on critical issues like renewable energy and water policy. But the city does have the San Antonio Clean Technology Forum, which is part event organizer, part networking opportunity, and part information clearinghouse. It's emerged as a force in debates over the ill-fated plan to expand the South Texas Project nuclear plant, the best way to secure more water for the region, and how to develop a so-called green economy.


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