A Trader Joe’s Coming to Washington Ave.?

A tipster tells Swamplot that a parcel of the Memorial Club Apartments property at 904 Westcott  is “confirmed” as the future site of Houston’s fourth Trader Joe’s. Organized around the Rice Military roundabout near Memorial Park, the apartments are split down the middle by Westcott; the photo above shows a view from the roundabout looking east toward Washington.


Greystar, one of the development company’s Houston-based managing directors says, has the 46,000-sq.-ft. property under contract and is looking at both redevelopment and retail. The site map (above) from Laramar, which had owned the property since 2007, shows the layout of the apartments with units on each side of Westcott; below is a view of the apartments from the Westcott median.

Photos: Candace Garcia (apartments); Laramar (site map)

35 Comment

  • My former residence from 2001-2005, oh well. They were pretty nice apartments, and my neighbors were good folks too.

  • 2001-2003 for me, and hated every minute of it. Good riddance!

  • I assume Trader Joe will want to sell beer and wine. If the bozo’s running SN22 shut down Specs across the street for being to close to Memorial Elementary, how is Joe going to sell $2 Chuck?

  • So is the entire site going to be redeveloped ?

  • I find this news exciting since: 1) I live just a few blocks from here and love TJ’s, and 2) because those apartments are an eyesore! However, unless there are some changes coming to the roundabout (e.g. getting rid of it), it’s going to be a major morass! I drive through the roundabout most days and can’t remember a time I have gone through it without someone using the wrong lane or not yielding to those in the roundabout. Increasing vehicular traffic is just going to make it worse and, I predict, increase accidents.

  • Yay, more idiots that don’t understand roundabouts will head into the area!

  • I hope they do not cut down all that housing to replace it with a strip mall. But this is the odd game we are playing in Houston. We pile on more multifamily housing, increasing the demand for retail. We meet the demand for retail by building strip malls, decreasing the amount of space available for more multifamily development. It is like the serpent that survives by eating its tail. This will especially become an issue in Montrose as they are currently getting the bulk of the new Multifamily development. If only there were a way to combine residential and retail in one development . . . .

  • Trader Joe’s has done several mixed use stores successfully in Minneapolis, Madison, etc. I wanted a good coffee shop in that location, but TJ’s will do!

  • The far SE corner of the property may be far enough away from Memorial Elementary not to run afoul of the 1000-ft restriction, but it’s close.

  • No 3 Buck Chuck at this location – Spec’s lost, so will TJ.

  • Greystar is not in the strip mall business, people. Expect apartments and retail.


  • So they’re going to tear down a neighborhood to build a neighborhood grocery store?

  • I second what Thirsty said…there is no way I can see that this is further from the elementary school than was Spec’s. I’d question whether they could obtain a liquor sales permit here.

  • Trader Joe’s sells $3 wine that tastes like $6 wine.

  • This is IMO a wise move for Greystar. The Rice Military area is drastically under-served by retail grocers. Ridding the neighborhood of low end multi-family houseing, and replacing it with mixed use, while satisfying the long-missing grocery store component appears to be a home run…. or at least a double or triple. I agree that that goofy roundabout may become more problematic. My opinion concurs with Thirsty about stupid neighborhood 22. I can’t stand going to their meetings. After 5-10 minutes I want to poke my ears out listening to the abject lack of common sense prevalent among those in positions of authority there besides Jane Cahill West.

  • It’s the revenue ratio that put Spec’s out of compliance with the ordinance. Alcohol revenues must be less than 50% of sales to be allowed in the alcohol-free zone, hence the beer sales at the Super K on the north side of the Roundabout are just fine.

  • Yes, please. I can tell you that a grocery store would be an improvement over these apartments and I’m much happier to have TJ’s as a neighbor. There’s no shortage of housing, but we are underserved grocery-wise. Please don’t let the nay-sayers shut this down a la Spec’s.

  • @CK drastically under served ? There is a Walmart, Kroger, and Target. That’s drastically under served ?

  • They really should be taking over the former Specs location, ample space there already. Those apartments albeit old are not an eyesore, and I lived at 955 not 904 maybe there is a marked difference. And for the record, Specs was approved until some mamby pamby types decided to fuss about it, like specs would be giving tequila to elementary school kids, the city approved it and then yanked their permit out from under them. Surprised there wasn’t a huge lawsuit, that specs was great.

  • I’m really glad they’re putting in a grocery store. It’s really hard to find grocery stores in this area.

  • Anyone know how the 3 open TJ locations are performing so far?

  • @John – None of the stores you mentioned are actually in Rice Military. I can probably drive to the Shepherd and 11th Kroger quicker than I can get to Target, the new Kroger or Walmart. If this project is done right, it can be a real attribute to the neighborhood.

  • Complaints about not enough grocery stores? Are you serious? There are 3 Kroger Stores within a short distance, Target, Walmart, what more do you need? There are plenty of grocery store choices. These apartments are not an eyesore, this place is someone’s home! Teachers, Policemen, Engineers, College Students, Families, totally not what your eyes think! We all look out for each other if you read the crime reports there are more break ins in the more “upscale” homes. That is a major Houston problem something is old, tear it down don’t renovate and restore the character of the home. Instead build New and charge an arm and two legs! So over it! SAD!

  • I can’t believe no one has leased the old Specs location, it perfect for all kinds of business’
    I must admit I would like a TJs there, I walk and ride a bike mostly, and Walmart,target, Kroger, WF, are four miles each way, I’ll be there every day

  • I walked into a Walmart in Lake Jackson earlier today. Saturday, about 11 o’clock, 30 cash registers and only 2 open. Line 20 people deep. We had about four items, one of them without a bar code, so of course the cashier had to walk clear across the sports-stadium-sized store to get the price (I guess her phone wasn’t working?). I haven’t patronized Walmart but maybe a half-dozen times in 10 years, and that was pretty much the normal experience. Point being, having a Walmart in your area does NOT mean you are “well served”. And Trader Joe’s? Like a vegetarian granola Buccee’s, without the gasoline. Yeah, my Walmart trip put me in a bad mood, my apologies.

  • Trader Joe’s can get an exemption(HEB on W.Alabama got one-as that store is within the 1000 foot limit) from Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. TJ’s would not spend millions on a new store without having all of its ducks lined up!

  • For those pointing out that there are other groceries in the area, they are far enough away that they do not meet the grocers expectations for customer distance for a large area. Furthermore, there are not nearly enough grocers for the area just south and north of I-10. As a head of household, and a foodie/cook, I hardly consider Target or Walmart (where I won’t shop) a grocery store. They carry groceries. They are not a grocer. Kroger is it for Rice Military/Washington Corridor and for the Heights. That area has LONG been considered to have a shortage of grocers by grocers and they are always looking for a large enough space. HEB, Randalls (years ago) Kroger, Albertsons, Whole Foods all have folks looking for space for new stores.
    Personally, I’m thrilled to have a TJ closer than the Alabama store and hope they put one in the Heights somewhere too.

  • I’ve lived in Rice Military over 11 years now and this is great news! The Krogers in the area are okay – but traffic isn’t getting any better and this will be in our backyard. The old Specs space just doesn’t have the parking. Not sure what type of retail can go in there. Also, there are about 300 new multi-family units located on TC Jester north of Washington due to come on-line soon.

  • You people need to get over it. The Memorial Club is not an eyesore. It is a place of family, friends, and GREAT BUSINESS. There are multiple places where you can get or make groceries, whichever you prefer. Although Target and WalMart are not grocery stores, they do carry enough groceries for any food junkie,to shop at for any meal. People please get over yourselves, you think it is BEST TO TEAR DOWN THAN RESTORE, WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR HOME OR AREA OF LIVING THAT TRADER JOE’S WAS COMING TOO…..PLEASE

    Signed, Resident of the Memorial Club….

  • First of all, the SPECS that was in the area was closed a loooong time ago. They never took the sign out. As far as the apartment itself, yeah I hate it too but I like the location but calling it an eyesore is a wee bit elitist. Oh and I hate it that people doesn’t know how to drive in the roundabout.

  • NO ONE wants their home torn down. Is not gonna be so easy for Greystar as they think. People are pissed. These are nice apartments and cost a pretty penny to live here. We are told by lawyers that if Traders sells alcohol cannot move there–pure and simple, And I guarantee you the yuppies in this area arent gonna go there for long if no alcohol. Is still too close to the school lawyers tell us. and even if they do not we are on dangerous roundabout that already has serious accidents–retail and the school traffic and people going to and from work is an disaster waiting to happen. These are business people, owners, lawyers, policeman, professors, teachers, musicians with the symphony and people climbing the corporate ladder living here…aren’t bums, Yes, Specs was closed down almost immediately being to close to school. Just something to mention that alot of us that live here have known for years: Do you know that memorial club apartments are haunted?? FYI

  • Unfortunately for the residents of Memorial Club, it will be every bit as easy as Greystar thinks it is. Just because it is full of people with decent jobs, doesn’t mean anything. Allen House had the same type of people & it didn’t stop that demo. When they want to empty it out and tear it down, the delusions of grandeur tenants who think they have the power to fight it will discover the true meaning of “pro-landlord state” when it comes to Texas’ tenant-landlord laws. As for the Trader Joe’s, there is already talk of it being a restaurant instead, so Trader Joe’s or not, start packing your bags, because the die is cast for that property.

  • Jim: You lived TWO YEARS in a place where you hated every minute? Can I ask why you stayed? Did you have a 2 year lease?

  • With the cost of compliance, and strict enforcement inside the loop, these old places are goners. It’s not easy to run an older garden style class C property in an area that the city doesn’t want them.
    Older affordable housing stock will continue to exist … it’ll just be pushed outside of the more desirable areas. It’s not hard to get a “stubborn” owner to sell. If a high offer price doesn’t do it, then multiple visits from the Prius patrol will…