(SAN ANTONIO) – On Thursday, Brooks marked the founding of Brooks Air Force Base 100 years ago, as well as its rebirth as a mixed-use community 15 years ago, with a “Quincetennial” celebration at the Embassy Suites Hotel on the Brooks campus.
The event raised more than $40,000 for the newly-formed Brooks Community Foundation, created to help lift up the surrounding community through grants to non-profits doing impactful work in the area. Eric Schmacker, President & CEO of Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, serves as chairman of the foundation’s board.
“At Mission Trail, we are big advocates for Brooks and for the whole South Side,” Schmacker said. “Brooks is helping to lift this community by attracting employers, high-paying jobs, beautiful housing and amenities. The idea behind the foundation is to play an even bigger role by supporting charities who are working hard every day to improve people’s lives and prospects in the neighborhoods around Brooks.”
Hosted by singer and TV personality Erica Gonzaba, the celebration featured a video highlighting contributions to modern aviation and science with origins at Brooks, including commercial air travel, space travel, pre-packaged food, respirators, LASIK Surgery, MRIs, artificial heart pumps, backpack parachutes and airborne military operations.
“None of these things would have been possible if it weren’t for discoveries made here at Brooks,” said Rudy Purificato, Air Force Historian. “The story of this place is so incredible it’s almost hard to believe. Tiny little Brooks contributed to public health and safety at a magnitude unknown to the rest of the world.”
After the base closed in 2002, City leaders created a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone around the base to fund its redevelopment and formed the Brooks Development Authority (BDA) to govern the effort. Initially, the goal was to make Brooks a technology and research park, but the plan evolved over time into a mixed-use community.
Today, Brooks is home to more than 30 businesses, apartment homes, three hotels, including a full-service hotel, a hospital, a medical school, K-12 charter schools, event venues, retail and dining options and a soon-to-be-completed 43-acre urban linear park connecting to the San Antonio River. The campus directly supports more than 3,000 jobs, even more than when it was a base.
In the past 15 years, the value of Brooks and its surrounding acreage has increased to more than $607 million, up from $37 million in 2004. In total, the economic output from within the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone is $1.5 billion, with 750 acres remaining for future development.
“Though Brooks is no longer a military base, the new developments that have taken root on this campus represent a new destiny,” said Brooks President & CEO Leo Gomez. “Brooks is adapting and changing with the times, as it always has.”
Brooks Evolution at a Glance:
2002 – Brooks Air Force Base is conveyed to the Brooks Development Authority creating Brooks City Base, a unique partnership among the Air Force, the City of San Antonio, the State of Texas and the BDA.
April 2006 – Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, a K-12 public charter school, locates at Brooks. In 2016, the STEM-based school begins an 11-acre expansion to accommodate 3,000 students.
November 2006 – DPT Laboratories Ltd. opens a new, 258,000-square-foot research and manufacturing facility at Brooks, enabling the company to retain pharmaceutical and biotechnology jobs in San Antonio.
December 2010 – VMC opens a customer care and technical support center at Brooks with over 600 jobs.
April 2011 – Military contractor KBRwyle announces it will stay on at Brooks, leasing space to operate centrifuge and altitude chambers for the military and private sector clients.
August 2011 –Texas A&M University – San Antonio chooses Brooks as a temporary location for the upstart university while building a brand new campus on the South Side.
June 2011 – Mission Trail Baptist Hospital at Brooks opens, the city’s newest hospital and busiest emergency room.
August 2011 – Air Force ceases all operations at Brooks.
Spring 2012 – Brooks and The NRP Group open The Landings, the first multi-family housing complex offering high-end living on San Antonio’s South Side.
December 2012 – City of San Antonio 911 emergency call center opens at Brooks.
March 2013 – Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn choose the Brooks campus to open hotels.
May 2013 – Carenet Healthcare Services locates state-of-the-art healthcare support center at Brooks, bringing more than 150 jobs. In 2016, Carenet expands to more than 300 employees at Brooks.
September 2014 – Mission Solar opens 240,000-square-foot facility as part of CPS’ New Energy Economy Initiative.
December 2015 – Brooks completes a $560,000 rehabilitation project on the Sidney Brooks gravesite and memorial.
January 2016 – Brooks and The NRP Group partner to develop The Kennedy, a 306-unit apartment complex. The first residents moved in March 2017.
August 2016 – Brooks completes $9.1 million Kennedy Hill road improvement project, a key thoroughfare making way for new developments including UIW’s School of Osteopathic Medicine.
September 2016 – Brooks breaks ground on The Greenline, a $10.6 million, 43-acre linear park that will connect the Southside mixed-use community to the San Antonio River. The Greenline is expected to open in fall 2017.
December 2016 –
- Japan-based Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. announces launch of a new facility at Brooks to manufacture injection molding machines, a $20 million capital investment. The 115,000 square foot project is set to open in spring 2018 with more than 50 high-paying jobs.
- Brooks opens new apartment homes re-purposed from former barracks. The Aviator, a 280-unit apartment complex, is named 2017 ‘Best in Commercial Real Estate, Multi-Family Development’ by San Antonio Business Journal.
January 2017 – City of San Antonio opens veterinary and spay/neuter clinic at Brooks. In the first month, more than 400 surgeries were performed.
February 2017 – Brooks announces development of next light industrial facility, a 350,000-square-foot building.
March 2017 – Brooks opens restored Hangar 9, a $2.8 million project to transform the historic wooden hangar into an event space.
May 2017 – Grand opening of Embassy Suites by Hilton San Antonio Brooks Hotel & Spa, the only full-service hotel or conference and event center south of downtown San Antonio and north of Corpus Christi or McAllen.
May 2017 – City residents pass largest bond in history, including $23.4 million to improve infrastructure at Brooks.
June 2017 – Brooks City Base evolves name to “Brooks” in an effort to align the development’s name with its identity as an up-and-coming San Antonio community with a vision as big as Texas.
July 2017 –
- Brooks celebrates the grand opening of University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine, housed in renovated buildings from the former School of Aerospace Medicine.
- MixFit SA opens a 5,000 square foot fitness center at Brooks, offering a variety of classes to the community.
Aug 2017 – Compass Rose Academy set to open a brand new public charter school at Brooks.
Connie Gonzalez, Director of Public Relations