Southside San Antonio has changed because of Brooks – mySA

Brooks is becoming a booming hub for retail, restaurants, manufacturing, and housing. But it wasn’t always this way. The early 20th century airfield turned Air Force base only started the transformation when it U.S. government ordered it closed in the mid-90s. 

On June 8, the South Texas Business Partnership held a luncheon to laud Brooks still ongoing and steadfast development. Although Brooks City Base, now known as just Brooks, began in 2002, representatives of the Southside development at interstate highways 37 and 410 put that growth into numbers from 2012, a year after all military operations stopped, to 2022. 

Watch the time lapse below to see how Brooks Air Force Base transforms into the Brooks as it is known today. 

Brooks by the numbers

  • The current population at Brooks increased from 2012 by 14.4% to 43,236. 
  • Average household income in the area has increased by 28.4% to $57,424. 
  • The high school graduation rate is 80.7%, a 7.6% increase from 2012.
  • Brooks poverty rate has decreased by 2.2% from 2012 to 15.6%.
  • There have been 13,250 regional jobs created at Brooks surrounding businesses.

MySA searched through Brooks timeline, old news stories, photos and Express-News archives look back at the pivotal moments in Brooks’ growth. 

This aerial photo taken in 1924 shows a row of World War I hangars built at Brooks Field in 1918. According to the 1970 statement nominating Hangar 9 as a national landmark, the 16 hangars formed a "segmental arc flanking the north side of a northeast-southwest dirt runway."

This aerial photo taken in 1924 shows a row of World War I hangars built at Brooks Field in 1918. According to the 1970 statement nominating Hangar 9 as a national landmark, the 16 hangars formed a “segmental arc flanking the north side of a northeast-southwest dirt runway.”

Courtesy Photo/Brooks Development Authority

Brooks Field to Brooks Air Force Base – 1918 to 1947

Brooks Field was established in 1918 and the School of Aviation Medicine moved to the airfield in 1927. The airfield didn’t become Brooks Air Force Base officially until 1947. 

President John F. Kennedy tours the Aerospace Medical Center at Brooks Air Force Base during a visit on San Antonio on Nov. 21, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy tours the Aerospace Medical Center at Brooks Air Force Base during a visit on San Antonio on Nov. 21, 1963.San Antonio Express-News file photo

JFK in San Antonio – 1963

Brooks Air Force Base was President John F. Kennedy’s final stop during his visit to San Antonio on November 21, 1963, according to Express-News archives. He was assassinated the next day on his ill-fated Texas tour in Dallas. 

Lt. Col. Roberta Russell helps 7-year-old Cub Scout Lance Bishop into a mockup F16 jet cockpit during Space Day at Brooks Air Force in 1992. 

Lt. Col. Roberta Russell helps 7-year-old Cub Scout Lance Bishop into a mockup F16 jet cockpit during Space Day at Brooks Air Force in 1992. 

Bob Owen/San Antonio Express-News

Brooks ordered to close – 1995

Many aerospace medicine developments happened at Brooks Air Force Base up until it was selected for closure as part of the Department of Defense’s base realignment and closure program in 1995. It was then that military operations would start winding down. 

Leo Gomez, president and CEO of the Brooks Development Authority, which is redeveloping the former Brooks Air Force Base.
Leo Gomez, president and CEO of the Brooks Development Authority, which is redeveloping the former Brooks Air Force Base.Billy Calzada /San Antonio Express-News

City Base concept created – 1997 to 2001

San Antonio, in partnership with Air Force, come up with the “City Base” concept in 1997. In 2001, the Brooks Development Authority was created to help oversee the redevelopment of the old air force base area. CEO Leo Gomez currently leads the organization. 

Brooks Air Force Base was handed over to San Antonio in 2002 and became Brooks City-Base, which has seen $500 million worth of development since 2005. 

Brooks Air Force Base was handed over to San Antonio in 2002 and became Brooks City-Base, which has seen $500 million worth of development since 2005. 

Courtesy photo

Brooks City Base – 2002

Brooks City Base is created in 2002 kicking off years of development.

The City Base Landing shopping area on Southeast Military Drive opened in 2008. 

The City Base Landing shopping area on Southeast Military Drive opened in 2008. 

JOHN DAVENPORT/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Retail moves in – 2008

The now popular City Base Landing shopping center on Southeast Military Rive officially opened in 2008. 

Airmen listen to the proceedings during the inactivation ceremony for the 311th Air Base Group at Brooks City Base in 2011.

Airmen listen to the proceedings during the inactivation ceremony for the 311th Air Base Group at Brooks City Base in 2011.

TOM REEL

Military operations cease – 2011

On September 30, 2011, Brooks City Base stopped all operations for 311th Air Base Group, officially closing Brooks Air Force Base, and further paving the way for development. 

The Landings at Brooks City-Base apartments is in the hottest growth areas of south San Antonio in 2016. 

The Landings at Brooks City-Base apartments is in the hottest growth areas of south San Antonio in 2016. 

JERRY LARA, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

The Landings – 2011

NRP Group, led by its late CEO Dan Markson, opened the Landings in 2012. The Brooks City Base apartments were a catalyst for BDA’s housing plans. 

 Mission Trail Baptist Hospital opened in 2011.

 Mission Trail Baptist Hospital opened in 2011.

WILLIAM LUTHER/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Medicine lives on at Brooks – 2011

Continuing the tradition of medicine at Brooks City Base, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital moved and officially opened its 110-bed, 220,000-square-foot facility in June 2011, bringing access to health and emergency room care to the Southside.

City Base Cinema, a 10-screen theater near the site of the former Brooks Air Force Base, opened in December 2011.

City Base Cinema, a 10-screen theater near the site of the former Brooks Air Force Base, opened in December 2011.

Express-News

On the big screen – 2011

What would a booming development be without some form of entertainment? In December 2011, the 10-screen City Base Cinema opened its doors.

Nissei moved its headquarters to San Antonio.

Nissei moved its headquarters to San Antonio.

Photo by Robin Jerstad

The Manufacturing hub – 2016 to 2021

Tokyo-based Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. announced plans to build a $13 million manufacturing facility at Brooks. In 2021, Nissei announced that it would establish its regional headquarters in San Antonio

A Czech Republic-based company would follow suit in 2018, and Cuisine Solutions would also open its $200 million, 315,000-square-foot plant in 2021. 

Construction started on the Embassy Suites Hotel off South New Braunfels Avenue in Brooks City Base in 2016. The hotel is six stories and includes an 8,000 foot ballroom.

Construction started on the Embassy Suites Hotel off South New Braunfels Avenue in Brooks City Base in 2016. The hotel is six stories and includes an 8,000 foot ballroom.

JERRY LARA, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

More lodging – 2017

The six-story Embassy Suites Hotel on South New Braunfels Avenue opened in 2017 and is the only hotel, conference, and event center south of downtown, according to the Brooks timeline. 

Dr. Eduardo Caballero (second from right), a benefactor of the school, heads toward the building bearing his name with friends and family during the grand opening event for UIW's new School of Osteopathic Medicine in July 2017. 

Dr. Eduardo Caballero (second from right), a benefactor of the school, heads toward the building bearing his name with friends and family during the grand opening event for UIW’s new School of Osteopathic Medicine in July 2017. 

Marvin Pfeiffer, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

UIW opens its new School of Osteopathic Medicine in July 2017, allowing students to study osteopathy in a four-year program. The first class graduated in May 2021. 

The “Running with the Moon” art installation is located in Greenline Park on the Southside.

The “Running with the Moon” art installation is located in Greenline Park on the Southside.

William Luther /Staff

Greeline Park – 2018

Brooks converted 43 acres of green space into what is now known as Greenline Park in 2018

Chef Johnny Hernandez's was set to open a La Gloria at Brooks in 2018, but only recently picked up progress.

Chef Johnny Hernandez’s was set to open a La Gloria at Brooks in 2018, but only recently picked up progress.

Courtesy, Johnny Hernandez

Culinary destination – 2018

Chef Johnny Hernandez’s La Gloria at Brooks was set for an opening date in 2018, but with delays, including the pandemic, the Southside location has only picked up steam again this year. Popular sea food restaurant and brewery Southerleigh that started at the Pearl also announced in 2018 that it plans to open a Brooks location.

Terramark Urban Homes plans to build 60 houses at Brooks.

Terramark Urban Homes plans to build 60 houses at Brooks.

Courtesy of Terramark Urban Homes

Housing boom – 2021

Continuing its commitment to creating more housing on the Southside, Brooks welcomed Terramark Urban Homes and its plans for a 60-home development. 

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