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The Pioneer Of The Great NorthwestBLy Alissa Reinhardike any major city in the United States, San Antonio has expanded, grown and transformed over the years at the handsof innovative developers and businessmen. If you’re a resident of the Northwest side of the city, then there’s largely one man responsible for your residence, the businesses you frequent, the area’s attractions, hotels, employers, the list goes on and on – Charles Martin“Marty”Wender.Marty is one of San Antonio’s most prominent real estate developers and civic leaders. He moved to San Antonio from Forth Worth in 1969, married his wife, Rene, a lifelong San Antonio resident, and began working for the family business on the west side of town. In 1981, he decided it was time to go out on his own.“The first track of land I developed was Crownridge off I-10, 1,220 acres outside the city,” stated Marty. “And I believed the key to really spur development there was to extend Camp Bullis Road from I-10 all the way to Babcock as a major boulevard.”Marty’s vision proved fruitful. He sold off large tracts of land to home builders and became one of the city’s first master plan developers. At a time when most were under the impression that San Antonio’s growth was destined to continue due north, up Highway 281, Marty had a different vision.Highway 281 hadn’t developed into the golden corridor that most thought it would be. The hilly landscape and solid rock made establishing infrastructure difficult. The north side is also located in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone and is home to endangered species of birds and insects. Both posed roadblocks from an environmental standpoint. Marty’s focus wasn’t on the north. Instead, he saw what seemed to be a major shift to the west side of San Antonio.Huge companies like USAA had recently moved from Hildebrand and Broadway to their new campus on I-10. Medical Center was blossoming. UTSA opened its campus at I-10 and 1604. And later on, Valero’s headquarters also moved west. Marty recognized the opportunity for even more growth and capitalized on it.Marty noticed the development gap from Culebra to Potranco Road, about 3,500 acres spread out over five ranches outside the city limits. He started buying up the land and working with landowners and the Texas Department of Transportation to establish his largest real estate development project to date – Westover Hills which is today one of the country’s premier, mixed use, large-scale, master planned developments. Westover Hills has become home to Sea World, Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, Wells Fargo Operations Center, Alamo Colleges Northwest Vista Campus, Microsoft Data Center, and many more.As he embarked upon this journey, Marty was aware of the challenges of developing the west side. “We had an access problem,” explained Marty. “We needed a freeway, so I donated the land for the rightaway which was unheard of on a state highway,and I paid for half of the cost of the access road.” And thus Highway 151 was born. This is just one example of his ingenuity and foresight for what2017-2018the area could – and eventually would – one day become.Another huge venture for Marty was his endeavor to bring Sea World to San Antonio. He continued to spur the development of traffic and road improvements anticipating the high volume of traffic that such an attraction would bring. Wender was also advised by George James Becker, Jr., the man responsible for overseeing the construction and opening of SeaWorld, to open a destination resort hotel in the area.“I didn’t even know what a destination resort hotel was,” said Marty. “To make a long story short, I knew Becker was on to something. I researched it, traveled to Japan to get the financing needed, and the Hyatt Hill Country Resort was built.”As time went on, Marty was able to communicate his plan for the Northwest side so effectively that it was not difficult for potentialMarty Wender“businesses to subscribe to his vision.“The west side of the city was still not popular,but most of my customers weren’t from San Antonio, so they didn’t have a bias,”explained Marty. “When they came to town, I could deliver the facts and I would win. We had all the right things in place for development.”Marty refused to build inferior infrastructure. While other developers wanted to build minimallyWestover Hills / 151 aerialI like to do things that other people say can’t be done. My wife calls me ‘Mr. Fix It.’If there’s a problem, I thrive on solving it. All the easy deals have already been done, the only ones left are the hard ones. Whenever someone says you can’t do it or it doesn’t make sense – you have to evaluate yourself. You can’t always take what people tell you.” ~ Marty Wendersized roads, he wanted to build what was right for his vision of the area.“Other parts of city are always updating infrastructure because it was built too small,” said Marty. “I built the size I believed was the right size from the beginning.”Today, the northwest side of San Antonio is one of the fastest growing corridors in the entire countryPioneer - cont. on page14 13Business Development

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