San Antonio Green Building Alliance

Demolition of the Univision building continued last week to make way for a million, 350-unit housing development. Credit: Sylvia Gonzalez
Demolition of the Univision building continued last week to make way for a $55 million, 350-unit housing development.

Residents of San Antonio watched last week as the 1955 Univision building fell to the wrecking ball, despite a long, hard battle fought by the city’s preservationists and activists to save it.

Demolition of the birthplace of Spanish-language broadcasting in the United States began on Nov. 4 to make way for a new, $55-million apartment development. (Univision moved to a new station building on the city’s Northwest Side.)

The work was temporarily halted the following day after a judge issued a restraining order against the city and developer, giving local preservationists a glimmer of hope that what was left of the building could still be saved.

But a judge lifted the order early last week, and demolition continued.

"As the demolition crew tore down the walls of Univision’s original headquarters, a collective gasp was felt, " says Tanya Bowers, director of diversity at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The desire for luxury housing prevailed over the interests of local residents who wanted to preserve what the place stood for."

Local residents and activists placed memorials around the demolition site, calling attention to the building’s importance to Latino history. Credit: Sylvia Gonzalez
Local residents and activists placed memorials around the demolition site, calling attention to the building’s importance to Latino history.

Activists have long been fighting to secure historic designation for the midcentury KWEX TV Univision building, which housed the United States’ first full-time Spanish-language television station. Built along the San Antonio River, it played an important role in Latino civil rights and stood as an important monument to the city’s Mexican-American heritage.

"In looking at KWEX 41, some saw an outdated building, and others saw proof of the Spanish-speaking market’s strength, " Bowers says. "[When the station was built] it signified an important moment in American history: that San Antonio’s local audience could support a full-time Spanish language television station."

Preservationists and activists fought the city to save the building that housed the nation’s first Spanish-language television station.

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