I'll start with this - I personally enjoy the Pearl; I am there almost daily because the Local Coffee is the nearest coffee shop to my eastside office. I go to Cured for dinner, browse the Twig on weekends, drink like I'm still an undergrad at La Gloria, I love the Granary, and I'm counting down to Southerleigh's opening. But I don't think that the Pearl redevelopment is something that the city should seek to replicate.
Density alone does not create a vibrant city district and while the Pearl and the developments surrounding it have provided much needed housing in the area there isn't a soul that can argue the inclusivity of those developments. The Pearl and its surrounding developments (1800, 1221, Mosaic, etc) have some of the highest costs for rent in the city, and the amenities that surround it are no more affordable to the majority of San Antonio.
While a strong case may be made for the need for DINCs (Dual Income No Children) in the center city - they pay into city services more than they consume, this particularly being true for that sad, sad thing called SAISD - the continued development of the area to the exclusion of the vast majority of city residents does not bode well for the future of the area.
This discussion can go plenty of ways - I'd like to focus on vibrancy and justice. The homogeneity of the Pearl area is cause for alarm. I think that without the inclusion of a broader income spectrum the area will be prone to decline within a generation. Think of any truly great city district in more developed cities and you will undoubtably recall persons and amenities of varying income classes.
On the subject of justice: the Riverwalk expansion was funded with taxpayer dollars. The boom in development in the River North area is driven in large part by that development. Undoubtably some of those dollars came from low income individuals. They deserve more access than a streetside staircase leading to the river path. The city should be more vigilant in requiring developers to include low-income units in exchange for tax abatements and in waiving impact fees for connection to CPS and SAWS.
Another thought: a SAHA mixed income development in the area with river access