Simply San Antonio No.4

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SimplySanAntonio NUMBER 4


13 tips to make moving slightly less Hellish... How to escape with at least a shred of dignity, by JESSICA LEIGH HESTER The process of packing up an apartment and schlepping stuff to a new location is enough to reduce an otherwise competent adult to a crumpled, blubbering shell of someone who used to think it was a good idea to buy a lot of books. The boxes! The infernal sticky tape! The pulled muscles in your neck and back! You might think you’ve purged your apartment of unnecessary crap: balled-up receipts from 2013, gratuitous bottles of halfempty ketchup, orphaned nails and screws clanging around in the bottom of a drawer. More likely, though, you’ve just done a passable job of squirreling away all the detritus. It will rear its fearsome head—like an angry, mangy phoenix—as soon as you start packing. What? What is this still doing here? Moving is never fun, exactly. You might be relieved to get out of a basement apartment, or excited to finally have a balcony, but that’s the destination, not the journey. The journey—dragging recalcitrant, overstuffed boxes down and up many flights of stairs—is a trek through a hot, hellish landscape where tangled cords snarl at your ankles. It’s going to be brutal. But CityLab asked some experts how to prevent it from becoming the worst day of your life. Here’s what they told us:

Before you start: 1) Photograph your cords. “Take photos or make notes on how all of your media equipment is set up: television, sound equipment, modems and computer equipment,” suggests Lior Rachmany, CEO of Dumbo Moving + Storage in New York City. Keeping tabs on the cords will help you get connected quickly in your new place.

In this issue of


2) Change your address. Doing this a week or two in advance will help ensure that you get important items, such as bills, and don’t have a lag in services that are tied to a mailing address associated with a credit card (like Netflix or Seamless).

• 13 tips to make moving slightly

3) Set up utilities. You don’t have to wait until you’re settled in to make arrangements for the wi-fi or gas. Once you know your move-in date, call ahead to schedule whatever you need.

• Rehabilitation Tax Incentives

4) Make a plan for your pets. The chaos of moving is stressful for animals, too. To help keep them calm—and prevent them from having an accident or slipping out the propped-open door—consider making arrangements to leave your pet with a friend or at a boarding service.

• Building Community One Rocker

5) Schedule touch-up painting. Check your lease: Some renters are responsible for a new paint job to get the security deposit back. If that’s your situation, reach out to a painter in advance. “Once you have a moving date set, get a painting bid and plan for the painter to be the last person in before you turn the keys over,” says Brendon DeSimone, author of Next Generation Real Estate. “Waiting until the last minute could be a logistical nightmare.” 6) Ask for help. If you’re not hiring a moving company, enlist friends or family, whom you’ll have to repay with money or lots and lots of snacks. Continued next page

less Hellish

San Antonio Conservation Society

at a Time • Roster Dissection: Putting Symphony Players in their Place • NOW SHOWING: A Water Feature • July 2015 San Antonio Real Estate Market Statistics


Tax Incentives

Bruce MacDougal, Executive Director, San Antonio Conservation Society The second time is the charm. On May 29, 2015, a second Texas historic rehabilitation tax credit workshop, co-sponsored by the Conservation Society, was held. With a more in-depth view of the use of the federal and state credits, the workshop left no questions unanswered about the processes, the risks and the benefits. A key component was a heavy dose of experience from tax credit investment advisors who have used all the financial tools available to make historic rehabilitation projects work. The Texas rehabilitation tax credit went into effect in January 2015. As of the date of the workshop, the first two projects achieved certification with 47 more projects working their way through the system. There is more certainty about the process now that the program is underway. The two completed projects, both in San Antonio, illustrate key distinctions between the state and the federal credits. The Texas 25% credit can apply to smaller projects. The minimum investment is $5,000, allowing for multi-year project phases, as long as that threshold is met. In the case of the rehabilitation of the local, historic Rand Building to house Geekdom and other tenants, the projects will be completed floor by floor. On the other hand, the 20% federal credit requires a much larger investment and is tied to the purchase price of the building minus the value of the property. For the federal credit, financing is more complex because the credits are often sold to investors at an average of 85 cents on the dollar. Companies represented in the workshop program are in business to make the transactions profitable. Their job is to assist clients through the process, acknowledging the potential profit and the risks. Due to experience with the federal credits in place since 1976, these firms have ample precedent to rely upon. The rehabilitation standards, by which state and federal credits are evaluated, are also time tested by nearly 40 years of interpretation. During the workshop, speakers provided clarification about requirements for a property to qualify for the state credit or the federal credit. For both tax credits, the property must either be individually designated as historic or contributing to a designated historic district. If the idea of which buildings qualify as contributing is confusing, one speaker used an analogy of the difference between a soloist and a member of the chorus. The soloist and the individually significant historic building stand alone for their excellence, while a member of the chorus just needs to carry a tune and, similar to the contributing building, not detract from the rest of the group. Another speaker said that some potential users of either the state or federal tax credit are scared away because of the notion that a total restoration of the building is required. Continued next page The Rand Building is a perfect example of the use of the Texas Tax Credit – floor by floor.

13 tips to make moving slightly less hellish... Continued from previous page

Packing 7) Designate a “first night” box. You can plan on being pretty exhausted and miserable once you get to the other side. Plan for it by putting your toothbrush, medications, deodorant, and a change of clothes in a separate box so you don’t have to dig for the essentials. 8) Start with the stuff you use least often. The first to go? Whatever you’re not getting a lot of mileage out of at the moment, whether that’s winter sports gear or a waffle maker. (Stuff you truly never use should be ditched before you begin.) 9) Use suitcases wisely. If you have to transport them anyway, you might as well fill them with stuff. Stash lightweight, nonbreakable items—such as clothes or bedding—in large luggage. 10) Separate cleaning supplies. You won’t want to unload your stuff into weirdly sticky cabinets, notes Debra Johnson, a home cleaning expert from Merry Maids. Instead of tossing cleaners in with the rest of the bathroom supplies, put them in a separate box so that you can wipe off any crud on the counters or shelves before you unpack. 11) Don’t stow your important documents. You don’t want to shove your birth certificate or passport in with other papers, where it might be tough to find them. Tuck them into a folder and carry them with you.

Unpacking 12) Put up a schematic for furniture. Tape up photos or signs indicating where your couch, coffee table, and other big-ticket items should go. This will help movers figure out where you want things positioned, says Chicago-based professional organizer Meg Ricard. 13) Save your receipts. “In many cases, moving expenses are deductible from federal income taxes,” notes Rachmany of Dumbo Moving + Storage. “If you’re moving because of a change in employment, you may be able to claim this deduction even if you do not itemize.” To maximize your deductions, keep track of all of the costs you incur during the process and consult an accountant.

Building community. One rocker at a time. Lately, I’ve been reflecting back on a painting I drew in my head some years ago when elderly friends purchased a house in a subdivision where their children and grandchildren lived. Why so close at hand, you ask? So grandma and grandpa could wait for the grandkids to come home from school, sitting in rockers on their porch. Unfortunately, the school bus never came by their house. As I remember that painting, another canvas pops into my head showing an area of San Antonio that would be the perfect setting for the first picture, in a neighborhood called Jefferson. Here the school bus rolls through the public streets with no impediments to its travel. This new painting shows children hopping off the bus a short distance from their grandparent’s house, where, yes, grandma and grandpa wait excitedly while rocking in their chairs. The two scenes are but a microcosm of what’s taken place in San Antonio over the years as San Antonio grows outward from its center, and less personal. The Jefferson area (like Mahncke Park, Monte Vista, King William and others), dates back to the late 1800s, and some homes still look the part. This is a good thing, especially when the fronts of houses promote interaction with neighbors (spelled p-o-r-c-h and s-i-d-e-w-a-l-k). In effect, those two features allow residents in these neighborhoods to develop a camaraderie we don’t much see these days. And much of that is due to houses that were designed with front porches and neighborhood sidewalks. In fact, what must have became a common sight lo’ those many years ago, were folks sitting on their porch while children played games out front or biked on the sidewalk. And often, I imagine, those living in the neighborhood would stroll by, call out their hellos and, often, mosey up to the porch to extend pleasantries or stop and sit in conversation. My how neighborly that must have been and how unfathomable a sight it would be in today’s fast-paced society as gated subdivisions become more prominent in San Antonio, with interior road lanes for cars and, perhaps, bicycles, but no sidewalks. Thus, the likelihood of seeing folks walking by, hailing their neighbors and stopping for a chat is all but a non-occurrence. As more and more people have moved to San Antonio, the extent of developable land is outside Loop 410 but

Rehabilitation Tax Incentives

more likely, Loop 1604, and it has become expensive to develop. So much so, I remember hearing a comment a developer made on why he didn’t put sidewalks into his developments, saying “because it would take land away from the homeowner who would mind giving it up or paying for it.” Not, mind you, the developer adding sidewalks, and making the streets, most likely upwards of 33 feet or more, narrower by 6 – 8 feet to accommodate those walkways and allowing homeowners their full plot of land. “Few Americans today say they know their neighbors’ names and far fewer report interacting with them on a daily basis,” economist Joe Cortright wrote in a recent City Observatory report stating that only about 20 percent of Americans spent time regularly with the people living next door to them. And further, that “a third said they’ve never interacted with their neighbors, a significant decline from four decades ago when a third of Americans hung out with their neighbors at least twice a week and only a quarter reported no interaction at all.” And, in a separate 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center, researchers found that 43 percent of Americans know most or all of their neighbors. But nearly a third said they know none by name. With nostalgia, then, it’s instructive to ride through some of the old neighborhoods and imagine how folks used to live and remember the good old days when porches were the norm. Rockers (chairs that rock) knew their place and sidewalks were for walking or playing games. Those were the days when you would hear a voice call out, “Hi neighbor, come on up for some tea, sit a spell and let’s talk about all the folks we know by name round these parts.”

Continued from previous page

That is not the case. Instead, an adherence to a rehabilitation standard is all that is required. For example, missing historic features of a building do not have to be replicated if they are now missing. The current condition is the starting point. Incompatible non-historic changes may remain, if that is the owner’s wish. The tax workshop at the end of May was timely and well attended. Half of the participants attended the first workshop in the fall, a good indication that further clarity about the tax programs was needed. The case studies presented in May not only were sufficiently in depth to illustrate the main components of financing projects, but also provided examples of different ways the credits could be used to achieve a successful project. It became clear that, with the right architect and with the right financial advisors, projects that might seem unfeasible at first glance could be worked another way and become feasible. The case studies were very well chosen and the experts did a superb job of teaching about the credits. To learn more about the credits and the program, go online to: Reprinted by permission of the San Antonio Conservation Society, the Preservation Advocate, Vol 51, No. 4, Summer. Copyright 2015

Putting Symphony Players in their place. We often read or see on television news about our San Antonio Spurs. Most recently a headline and story in the Express-News was titled “Roster Dissection - with the team’s pieces mostly in place, we take a position-by-position look.” What we don’t read or hear a lot about is the San Antonio Symphony. Poles apart from the Spurs though they may be, the Symphony has a profound effect on large numbers of people, and with the 2015-16 season approaching, is celebrating its 76th anniversary. The Symphony consists of 72 players who perform in a season that stretches from September to June. They perform more than 50 games, that is concerts, a year, including 40 classical and pops, 12 for children, 2 family concerts, and others, sometimes 5 or 6 times a month. Last year, the Symphony became one of the anchors of the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, an important venue for San Antonio as the city strives to have its downtown re-emerge as a vibrant and visible part of the city. The Symphony attracts up to 1,700 patrons to each of its performances, which, while not the 18,000+ fans the Spurs draw to the AT&T Center, is still a good sized audience. The instrumentalists report far less income to the IRS every April then the Spurs players, but like the athletes contribute a great deal of community service outside of their regular gig. Some are adjunct professors or teachers at colleges or public schools in the area, others teach private lessons, still others play in children’s concerts, or have started and play in local musical groups, including the SOLI Chamber, San Antonio Brass, Camerata San Antonio, and Olmos Ensemble, bringing an added measure of musical enjoyment to San Antonio.

The Symphony consists of 17 different sections, or instruments, with a varying number of players in each section. The first section is Violin, divided into I and II. Violin I’s front court playmaker, the Symphony’s Concertmaster, is the newly arrived Eric Gratz. Since his concert debut at age 14, Eric has performed before numerous audiences, including with the Cleveland Orchestra and Houston Symphony. At age 17, he made his Kennedy Center (Washington, DC) debut. The Violin II section is led by Mary Ellen Goree, who joined the symphony in 1988 and received her current appointment as principal second violin in 1991. In addition, she’s been teaching privately since her own college days and has maintained an active studio in San Antonio since 1988. Allyson Dawkins, principal violist, is on the faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is highly sought after and widely respected as a private teacher. During the summer she serves as Dean of Students and teaches viola at the Quartet program at Bucknell University.

Kenneth Freudigman is principal cellist, co-founder of Camerata San Antonio, adjunct professor of cello at the University of Texas San Antonio and a highly respected cello pedagogue; he began playing at age 9. He has also been director of the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio. Thomas Huckaby has been principal bass for the Symphony since 1997. He first performed on the double bass at the age of 9 and has received numerous awards for his prowess. He participates in the Symphony’s Community Outreach Program and maintains a private studio. Martha Long, principal flutist, won her position with the Symphony in October 2012. She is on the faculty of the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio and is the director of the flute Section of YOSA. In addition, she teaches private flute lessons to students of all ages. Ilya Shterenberg, originally from Ukraine, is principal of the clarinet section. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of clarinet at the University of Texas San Antonio. Prior to coming to San Antonio, he was the principal clarinetist with the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra. Paul Lueders, principal oboe, is a native of Boston, MA. He recently completed his studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. Sharon Kuster is the principal bassoonist. In addition, she plays with the Olmos Ensemble, teaches privately and in the summer, appears at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Brackenridge Music Institute, the Sunriver Music Festival and others. Jeff Garza has been principal horn with the Symphony since October 2004. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of horn at Trinity University and St. Mary’s University. Dr. John Carroll is the principal trumpet. He earned a Doctorate of Music Arts degree in 2008 from the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches privately on trumpet and all brass instruments, coaches the brass ensemble and directs the Providence Community Wind Ensemble at Our Lady of the Lake University. Patrick Montgomery is acting principal trombone. A new principal chair will arrive after the first of the year. Lee Hipp, a native Texan, is the tuba principal. He has played with the Symphony, as well as the San Antonio Brass, since 1989. He has taught tuba at the University of Texas San Antonio and the University of Utah and is currently an instructor at Trinity University and St. Mary’s University. Peter Flamm, principal timpani, has performed with the Indianapolis, Charleston (SC) and Canton Symphonies. In addition, he teaches at Trinity University. Riely Francis, a native of Houston, joined the Symphony in 2012 as principal percussionist. Since 2004 he has performed summers at the Grand Teton Music Festival. Rachel Ferris, principal harp, with over 15 years of professional experience, enjoys a varied career as a symphony and chamber musician, freelance harpist and teacher. And, though the Symphony didn’t announce a milestone with the signing of Akiko Fujimoto, she has been an associate conductor for the Symphony Pops, as well as the Children’s and Family concerts, for four years now.

NOW SHOWING: A WATER FEATURE In San Antonio, where speed of travel seems to be the norm and bringing a leisurely pace to life is far from a casual thought, I’m reminded of a concept that brings joy to my mind, body and gait; a backyard that allows me to relax after a hard day at the office. Green space can do that to me, a space I can work in as well as recline by, a place to admire…and claim. And in my mind, there seems no better way to do that then with a backyard garden, yes, a garden for greenery, for growing vegetables or for small animals to frolic in and about. And introducing sound into the mix adds a certain pleasure to my senses. It’s not an uncommon belief that “green exercise,” the combination of physical activity and nature as noted in a previous issue of this newsletter, i.e. a walk in the forest or woods brings a peacefulness to the mind. Taking a walk, practicing yoga or gardening are among the activities that can influence feelings of happiness, appreciation of the moment and coping with stressful situations, researchers have noticed in studies. In addition to the aforementioned “walk in the park” as a grabbing idea, water can do the trick, perhaps just as easily. Think about the sound of dripping or rushing water. Delightful….yes! To accomplish this, a water feature, be it a well-placed fountain, a waterfall, a “babbling” brook or a koi pond can do wonders for a hyper-extended mind or body. Carrying this thought further, a water feature in one’s backyard is as close as one can get, save for living on a lake or by the ocean, as a melancholy idealism. The feature can be vest-pocket in size, or more grandiose, depending on your space or inclination. I had the pleasure recently to visit a home that had such a water paradise. Combining a pond, a stream and a Koi pond

was the trick. And in speaking with the owner, Christine KlehaSimpson, I found out her husband, Erik was the visionary behind the plan of designing a “system” that would allow water to flow from the top of a hill to the bottom as if it was a natural spring, culminating in a large koi pond. Seeing, and hearing, the system in its entirety convinced me theirs was more to backyard “living” then mowing the lawn or growing vegetables. And listening to Mrs. Kleha-Simpson explain, it brings a joy to her mind and body each time she sits or lies close to the water. According to John Troy, ASLA, a landscape architect in San Antonio, “a water feature in a garden can enhance its Continued on next page

NOW SHOWING: A WATER FEATURE Continued from previous page beauty…the gentle sound of flowing water can be not only relaxing but also mask other unwanted noise. Whether the aesthetic presentation is a gurgling stream or a formal fountain, such a green exercise is the combination of physical activity and nature.” In addition, water features often make your garden look bigger, especially when standing or “resting” water picks up the reflections of colorful greenery or vegetables that are prominently available for viewing. And when underwater lighting is used, different shapes are highlighted, differently, at different hours of the day and night, in fact, darting about with each change of light, or direction. Yes, there is something calming and natural about the sounds of water, the way it interacts with nature, and how it instantly adds to your landscape, a profound effect as well, nourishing the mind. For maximum enjoyment, it’s important to keep both the water and the surrounding area clean and in good repair. To that point, Mrs. Kleha-Simpson said “we use water plants to keep our pond in balance and hydrogen peroxide to get rid of string algae when it crops up.” So, give serious consideration to building a backyard water feature, consult with professionals who do such things or undertake the project yourself. Whichever way you “attack” the project and get it done, in the final analysis, grab a seat by your backyard garden, close your eyes, listen to the babbling water, allow yourself the benefit of reflective relaxation and savor the moment…or however long you enjoy yourself. What a treat!


Call me with your real estate related questions.

In this fast-changing city and metro area in which we live,

Whether it’s your first time, or you’re moving up or downsizing, I represent sellers and buyers of fine homes, as well as investment and commercial properties.

it behooves us to stay in touch with the old as well as the new. Change touches all of us. Thus the mission of Simply San Antonio is to highlight change and how it affects us, as homeowners, so that we can make the most of the present and keep a watchful


eye on the future.

David Simon

Realtor®, SRES (210) 573-0643

14855 Blanco Rd, Suite 403, San Antonio, Texas 78216 Your referrals are always welcome.

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