Pearl Brewery in the Year of COVID-19
Management of this San Antonio mixed-use retail site rose to the challenge of the pandemic by partnering with its tenants.
By John Salustri, GlobeSt.com
With all of the ink spilled over retail’s trials during COVID-19, one critical factor is typically overlooked: the need for connectedness. It’s a key theme for Natalie G. Smith, CPM, immediate past president of the IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) San Antonio chapter, and senior property manager at the Pearl in San Antonio.
But a little backstory is called for. The Pearl is more than the name implies. What started as Pearl Brewery back in 1883 is a 22-acre mixed-use gathering spot for San Antonians. It boasts no fewer than 32 restaurant and retail locations, including a year-round farmer’s market and a built-in customer base from the office tenants and multifamily residents attached to the center. “It’s the top culinary and cultural destination for San Antonio,” says Smith. “Our mission is to create places and experiences to cultivate human connectedness.”
That became a tall order this past February, when the full impact of the pandemic was first felt. As the market rode the ongoing wave of the still-booming economy, Pearl tenants hit 2020 “with great momentum,” she says, before commerce ground to a near halt.
And this is where the connectedness showed itself, first with the Pearl occupants. It also underscored the best-practices approach favored by IREM.