When the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio shut down in 2001 after 120 years of operation, it left behind a 22-acre, asphalt-covered site in a crime-ridden part of town. The nearby branch of the San Antonio River was little more than a polluted creek dotted with encampments of homeless people. But local businessman Christopher 'Kit' Goldsbury was looking for an interesting project, having sold his previous business'Pace Picante sauces'for $1.1 billion a few years before. He asked real-estate consultant Bill Shown to evaluate the Pearl property. 'I told Kit, 'Don't walk away from this, run away!' ' recalls Shown. Goldsbury didn't listen.
Twelve years later, the Pearl Brewery has become a thriving, mixed-use complex with restaurants, a branch of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), a weekly farmers' market, office space, and a growing number of residences. The formerly dank waterfront is now part of San Antonio's famed River Walk with a park, an outdoor amphitheater, and a restaurant, La Gloria, serving fantastic Mexican street foods. Crime in the area has dropped dramatically. And Shown now works as managing director of real estate for Goldsbury's company, Silver Ventures, overseeing the development of a project he originally thought was hopeless. 'I looked at all the problems,' says Shown. 'But Kit saw the place's incredible history and had an intuitive feel for the opportunity.'