As told to Tom Foster.
Graham Weston: In about 2011, I received an email that changed my life. Rackspace had acquired a company based in Virginia, and we required the founders to move here. Two of them did, but the third refused. He explained that San Antonio didn’t have a tech community, didn’t have a software developer community. There was nowhere he could walk his dog, go for a jog. It just didn’t have the things that he wanted out of a city. I had just had dinner with then-mayor Julián Castro, so I forwarded that email to him. I said at the top, “This is the city that we must build.”
Kit Goldsbury: I’ve walked through Geekdom [Weston’s co-working space, in a historic building downtown] several times now, and it’s wonderful that you’re doing it in an area that has been derelict for a long time.
GW: We’re trying to build a tech district there. For years I watched people leave Rackspace and have to move to another city to get a job. We need to have opportunities for them.
KG: I think we’ve gotten away from what we used to be, a city with a lot of plazas. So what we’ve tried to do at Pearl [Goldsbury’s dining and cultural complex built on the grounds of a historic brewery] is bring the plazas back.
GW: It’s an old style of development that was lost as the suburbs became powerful. The question is, how do we create a city that is good enough for folks who grow up here to come home to? I remember three or four years ago my son, who was a freshman at A&M—he and I had coffee right over there, at Local Coffee, and it was the very, very, very first time he thought he might come back.
KG: But you can’t attract just one group; it doesn’t work. Come to the farmers’ market here and you’ll see a pretty mixed group. Last year we did a posada here for the first time, and we did the Day of the Dead. It drew everyone you can think of.
GW: San Antonio, unlike a lot of cities, is really comfortable with its biculturalism, and that has to be the starting point for anything. If there’s a city of opportunity in Texas, it’s San Antonio. There aren’t many times in a generation when you can actually build a city. It’s becoming one of the country’s really great cities right now. Something is happening. It’s definitely happening.
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