Brooks History

Brooks aeria photo


Brooks Transformation Shapes a Dynamic Future

Courtesy of Brooks


Nestled on the Southside of San Antonio, Brooks is experiencing a remarkable transformation. Echoes of its historic past blend seamlessly with vibrant, contemporary developments. The 1,308-acre campus that was once a busy Air Force Base has morphed into a thriving mixed-use community teeming with opportunities to live, work, learn, play, and stay that might make you rethink everything you thought you knew about this part of the city.


The story of Brooks begins more than a century ago. It was established in 1917 as Kelly Field #5, and the site was later renamed Brooks Field in honor of Lieutenant Sidney J. Brooks Jr. – a pioneering aviator from San Antonio whose life was cut short during a solo training flight. The base was a cradle for significant innovations, contributing advancements from the development of early flight instruments and backpack parachutes to revolutionary medical technologies like MRIs and Lasik surgery. It gained further historical significance when President John F. Kennedy dedicated the School of Aerospace Medicine the day before his tragic assassination in 1963.


When the U.S. Department of Defense added Brooks Air Force Base to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list in 1995, San Antonio leaders faced the challenge of what to do with the space once military operations ceased. Nationwide, more than 350 military installations have been impacted by BRAC since its inception in 1988, often leaving behind economic voids and diminished community morale. The Brooks Development Authority was established to spearhead the area’s redevelopment. The primary objective was to replace the 2,700 jobs that the base once supported – a critical task to fortify the region’s economic stability.


Brooks’ transformation gained momentum when Leo Gomez took the reins as CEO in 2013. With his leadership, the physical and symbolic barriers of the past were dismantled as the gates and guard shacks came down, making way for community-focused development. This marked an evolution in Brooks’ mission from merely filling an employment gap to fostering a dynamic community capable of driving economic growth for the entire region.


Today, Brooks is a testament to forward-thinking urban redevelopment, with more than $1.3 billion in investment on campus and another $680 million in development currently underway. Governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the San Antonio City Council, the campus has become a bustling center of activity for the region. The Brooks Board and the Executive Leadership Team, primarily women, have been instrumental in steering the area’s ongoing transformation.


Visitors to Brooks are greeted by a seamless blend of old and new. Masterfully repurposed historical elements – from the barracks to the oldest wooden aircraft hangar still in its original location – have taken on new life as apartments and an event venue. What once served as a golf course is now The Greenline – a sprawling 43-acre linear park complete with pavilions, fully stocked ponds, a play area, exercise equipment, games, and free public Wi-Fi access. The Greenline connects to 15 miles of trails along the Mission Reach, with additional funding secured for linking the park eastward to Salado Creek.


Brooks River


With a diverse population of more than 3,300 employees, 1,600 residents, and 3,000 students, Brooks is filled with activity and opportunity. Fulfilling its original objective of job creation – Brooks has fostered a dynamic business environment home to more than 50 organizations of all sizes. Highlights of this corporate ecosystem include Mission Trail Baptist Hospital – the region’s only hospital with a maternity ward; the Embassy Suites at Brooks – the only full-service hotel south of downtown San Antonio; and six international businesses – OKIN Process, Bakerly, Cuisine Solutions, Mission Solar, Simwon and Nissei America. With the recent addition of Waters Edge – the Southside’s first Class A+ office development – the campus is poised to attract even more employers to campus with more than 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space now leasing.


The campus is home to five schools catering to the community’s educational needs, providing pathways from Pre-K through higher education. These institutions include two innovative charter schools – Compass Rose Legacy and Somerset Academy; CAST Imagine and CAST Med – San Antonio Independent Schools District’s (SAISD) 6-12th grade magnet program for medical professions; and the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine. Each school is linked to the businesses on campus, fostering a robust workforce development pipeline that helps to ensure the curriculum remains relevant while offering students opportunities to connect with potential future careers directly.


The residential landscape is equally diverse – with more than 1,200 residential units on campus offering everything from modern apartments to for-sale single-family homes and nearly 500 for-rent single-family homes in the upcoming Los Cielos community. Most residential options are pet-friendly, with amenities like the Paw Park and The Greenline enhancing the appeal for pet owners. The variety of available options ensures that you will find a place to call home whether you are a young professional, part of a growing family, or empty nesters seeking a new beginning.


You do not have to live or work on campus to enjoy the Brooks campus’s events and amenities. In addition to accommodations for travelers, the Embassy Suites at Brooks is home to Linda’s De Novo Hair Design – a locally owned full-service salon – and the eforea Spa, which offers services including relaxing halotherapy sessions in San Antonio’s only Himalayan salt cave. Across the lobby from the salon and spa, 1917 Restaurant and Bar delivers a menu featuring creative reinterpretations of traditional flavors, including items sourced from an on-site fresh garden and beehives. In addition to daily dining, the restaurant’s special events – including cocktail-themed gatherings like “Gin and Jazz” and Loteria nights – have quickly become local favorites.


Brooks cultivates a lively social scene as a community that thrives on engagement. There is always something to do at Brooks, whether it is sampling the vibrant flavors of Mexican street food at La Gloria or participating in the diverse array of events the community offers. On-campus events, from family-friendly outdoor movie nights and live music on the lawn at The Greenline to the Chanclas y Cervezas official Fiesta event to the annual Dia de los Muertos Gala held in historic Hangar 9 add to Brooks’ unique appeal, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for community members and visitors alike.


Brooks moon sculpture


The Future of Brooks


Plans are underway to further enhance the community’s connectivity and accessibility by developing a new town center. This high-density, walkable hub will serve as the heart of the Brooks campus, integrating retail, residential, and recreational spaces into a cohesive, vibrant district. Conceptualized with pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and modern amenities, the town center promises to foster an even more engaging environment where people can shop, dine, live, and gather.


The revitalization of the Brooks campus continues to catalyze significant growth beyond its boundaries, leading to a surge in retail and restaurant developments in the surrounding area that complements the options available on campus. The Brooks Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) – the 2,500-acre area surrounding and including the Brooks campus – now supports more than 13,000 jobs across 11 major industry sectors. Further, the valuation of the Brooks TIRZ has skyrocketed from $36.8 million in 2004 to $975.6 million in 2023.


In addition to serving as an economic development engine for the region, Brooks works to actively cultivate a culture of philanthropy through its 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Brooks Gives Back. Brooks Gives Back aims to amplify the campus’s impact by funneling resources and support into initiatives that enhance the quality of life for Southside residents. This helps ensure the campus redevelopment further benefits the broader community, creating an environment where economic, social, and cultural growth go hand in hand.


As Brooks continues to grow and reshape its campus and the surrounding community, it benefits San Antonio’s economic landscape and enhances the cultural and social fabric. Whether drawn in by its historical roots, the opportunity to live or work on campus, or the plethora of activities, Brooks invites you to experience its transformation firsthand.


Come experience the variety of activities and amenities that Brooks has to offer. Visit for more information.


Brooks butterflies


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