Balcones Heights, Texas - A Model of America's Re-Urbanization

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Wonderland of the Americas regional mall leads re-urbanization efforts in Balcones Heights

In the center of San Antonio, Texas, is a model of success engineered through a visionary partnership between the City of Balcones Heights and Wonderland of the Americas, the first regional mall built in San Antonio in 1961. This partnership is focused on the changing needs of its diverse community. Together, they have achieved the American “re-urbanization” dream and are attracting diverse generations of residents, shoppers and families with their understanding and delivery of what people are looking for today – value shopping, entertainment and free events, convenience, medical facilities, education and an overall sense of place and community.

“The city is aggressively implementing the master plan we adopted five years ago,” said Balcones Heights Mayor, Suzanne De Leon. “The transformation of Wonderland of the Americas has been a crucial dynamic of that plan. We enjoy a great synergy.”

During the 1960s, Balcones Heights drew many with its suburban appeal and new shopping mall. Today, this community finds itself at the busiest intersection exchange in the Bexar County between IH-10 and Loop 410. Wonderland’s prime location on the revitalized Fredericksburg Road has recently been coined San Antonio’s “magnificent mile” and the mall is now a major mixed-use development, with a variety of retailers, small businesses, medical services, educational and training facilities and a movie cinema specializing in first run and independent films. An additional highlight is the annual Balcones Heights Jazz Festival, a free concert series, now in its 22nd year that attracts thousands to enjoy entertainment from national performers.

“We are connecting with new audiences by serving the changing needs of a diverse marketplace,” said Director of Economic Development for Balcones Heights, Lorenzo Nastasi. “Balcones Heights and Wonderland of the Americas are the perfect models for the re-urbanization of cities across the country.”

More than a place to shop, Wonderland of the Americas is a center for the community to come together. A Medical Center, Career Point College and a soon to be constructed multi-residential component, adds to the vitality of this rediscovered place that is connecting with all generations.

“We set forth with a vision and hope that Wonderland of the Americas would reconnect the community by transforming our product and service offerings to be more consistent to meet the lifestyle of today’s consumer,” said Oscar Montemayor, director of leasing for Wonderland of the Americas. “The collaboration between Wonderland of the Americas and the City of Balcones Heights has proven to be a formula of success.”

In the last few years, Wonderland has attracted a variety of new tenants resulting in over 250,000 square feet of leased space. Career Point College resides in the Medical Center of Wonderland of the Americas and provides numerous health related classes for its 1,000 students who attend. In the fall of 2015 the expansion of 37,000 square feet opened to include a RN program and house expanded medical training facilities. The Medical Center includes Veterans Affair (VA) clinics, dentists, a counseling practice, a children’s urgent care facility and more.

Americans once flocked to the suburbs, but now more people are striving to live in cities across the country. Urban growth creates new opportunities for retailers to be flexible and adjust their offerings for a new pattern of demand and land use. Wonderland of the Americas in Balcones Heights provides a model for traditional regional malls to progress to a more dynamic mixed-use development.

About Balcones Heights, TX:
Located mid-way between downtown San Antonio and the South Texas Medical Center, Balcones Heights sits at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Loop 410. Fredericksburg Road, a former state highway, bisects Balcones Heights, and was selected as the route of the region’s pilot bus rapid transit program. Balcones Heights is unique in that eighty percent of its less than one square mile land mass is commercial property. Residential property comprises only twenty percent. The City’s daytime population is estimated to exceed 25,000, swelling from the existing 3,000 resident population.
Balcones Heights is home to San Antonio’s first Dave & Buster’s entertainment complex, Methodist TexSan Hospital, Simi’s, San Antonio’s first Indian restaurant, and the region’s first dine-in movie theater, the Bijou Cinema Bistro. Each summer the renowned Balcones Heights Jazz Festival attracts thousands of smooth jazz aficionados to a series of free concerts held around the Wonderland Amphitheatre’s magnificent reflecting pool and fountains.    

About Wonderland of the Americas:
Wonderland of the Americas Regional Mall was originally built in 1961. Purchased by the Rosenberg Partnership in 2009, the Regional Mall was rebranded as Wonderland of the Americas. The revitalized Wonderland of the Americas is a family venue for Value Shopping, Free Entertainment and Medical Services. National tenants at Wonderland of the Americas include Stein Mart, Burlington, Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less, Burke’s Outlet and the adjacent, Super Target. For more information contact (210) 785-3500 or visit

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Shelbi Rodriguez
Creative Civilization, Inc
+1 (210) 227-1999
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Lorenzo Nastasi
City of Balcones Heights
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