‘The Battle of the Alamo 2.0′: SA city council to decide Thursday whether to use eminent domain on local bar

San Antonio – The day before a vote on whether to use eminent domain to take over a downtown bar in the way of a new Alamo Visitors Center and Museum, its owner said the City of San Antonio and its partners can come and take it — if they come to the right price first.

Vince Cantu, the owner of Moses Rose’s Hideout, said in a news release Wednesday that he’s “ready for ‘the Battle of the Alamo 2.0′ but today is asking for peaceful negotiation with city council.”

The San Antonio City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to authorize the use of eminent domain to take over Cantu’s bar at 516 E. Houston Street. The bar sits in the footprint of a new Alamo Visitor Center and Museum that’s central to a plan to redesign Alamo Plaza that the city, the Texas General Land Office, and the Alamo Trust have been working on since 2015.

The Alamo Trust said Cantu rejected multiple offers to buy his property, including a $3.5 million offer in December. An appraisal put the current property value at $2.1 million currently and $2.8 million in 10 years.

The price Cantu has put out, though, is $17 million. He said that “happy price” is based on $10 million for the property, $5 million for the business, and $1 million for each year he and his wife “had to live under the stress of looming eminent domain.”

Vince Cantu, owner of Moses Rose’s Hideout (KSAT)

Cantu said he expected the original $15 million number he came up with to be the “opening volley” in negotiations, but that has “never been invited to sit down face-to-face and engage in a real negotiation over the property.”

In his Wednesday news release, Cantu said he is asking for an additional month to negotiate in good faith.

“I mean, if the City Council decides to go through with eminent domain without a reasonable, good-faith negotiating process, then I will be forced to buy up every ‘Come and Take It’ flag I can find and fight the Battle of the Alamo all over again here at home and in the national and international media as well,” Cantu wrote in Wednesday’s release.

MORE: San Antonio bar owner fights back against threat of eminent domain

In a letter to the city council, the Alamo Trust Board of Directors said that, without the bar, the project would have to abandon a 4D theater, a recreation of the Woolworth Lunch Counter, and designs for the civil rights exhibit. It would also mean an estimated $1.7 million loss of revenue and long-term sustainability for the Alamo by 2029.

“Mr. Cantu has been offered a more than fair price for his property, yet he continues to demand more than six times the value of his property. We have reached a critical impasse, and the future of the Alamo Plan is at stake,” writes the board.

Cantu may very well get his wish to negotiate the price before the city uses the power of eminent domain, though it’s not clear how close he’ll get to his “happy price.”

The ordinance before the city council Thursday morning would direct city staff to negotiate with Cantu to buy his property at “fair market value,” though the city won’t be the one footing the bill.

If that fails, though, city staff would be authorized to take the property through eminent domain.

The city council will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Municipal Plaza Building.

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