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Eyes on Bexar County

June 6, 2012

Lots of buildings here used to be something else.   Now everything from a former hunting lodge to a closed-down feed store is filled with oil field services and supply companies working in the Eagle Ford Shale.

“Every structure in town that was vacant and run down has been occupied and revamped,” said Garrett Ruple of Ruple Properties.

He’s developing an industrial park along Interstate 37, leasing or selling buildings to oil field companies faster than the concrete can dry on a foundation pour.

The demand is seen creating a boon for southern Bexar County.

There’s still a housing boom of so-called “man camps” and RV parks in the Eagle Ford Shale. But now the commercial developers are coming, adding industrial buildings — mostly metal structures with 5,000 to 20,000 square feet of space and an office out front — to the rural communities across South Texas.

“If they’re going to spend tens of millions to build something, the developers are more comfortable doing it in the city of San Antonio than in a far-flung area in South Texas,” Davidson said. “The South Side is a wonderful place to locate an operational campus. I am calling it San Antonio’s energy corridor.”

Davidson said having a Bexar County location also means companies won’t have to worry about utility or water hookups; it’s part of the CPS and SAWS service area.

Oil field workers want to move to permanent housing so they can bring their families with them, and Dockery said developers are responding with apartments and some single-family homes.

“It’s shifting. People have all of this money now, and they’re upgrading their lives. We’ve got people making $100,000 a year, and they’ve got high school degrees,” Dockery said.

Mark Witt, vice president and CFO of San Antonio-based Lewis Energy Group, said the company drilled 200 wells last year and is investing tens of millions of dollars in its Encinal campus. But it also is building homes, duplexes and fourplexes to have a place to house employees.

“We’re investing millions of dollars in real estate,” Witt said.
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