Changing Colors on the Underpass to Walmart

Driving along Yale St. under the railroad bridge that crosses it just north of Center St. in the West End yesterday, a Swamplot reader noticed workers removing the bright French colors from the retaining wall of the underpass. “This area was painted that red, white, and blue that seemed to match Walmart’s trade dress right before the deal went public,” the reader notes. But the Walmart going in just west of Yale St. is due to be clothed in earthier tones. “I wish we knew who paid for the paint job then, and who is paying for the removal now,” the reader writes.


Photos: Swamplot inbox

32 Comment

  • Whatever the livery, it will be vandalized with graffiti soon enough.

  • Rumor is that it was the old owner of the now Schlotzky’s building. Other rumor is that Ainbinder is painting it as they made a deal to abate graffiti on it with the city. Instead of having to paint three colors every week they will only have to paint one color – bland.

  • Thanks to the 380 agreement, we all get to pay for that redundant paint job. And Walmart doesn’t use red, white and blue for its colors anymore. The irony was too much even for Bentonville.

  • Walmart Grand Opening is set for October 31, 2012. I guarantee you that many of loudest complainers will be first in line.

  • There’s only one first by definition.

  • No, First in Line, we will not.
    I don’t think there was any realistic way to stop this monstrosity from getting built, but I also actively dislike Wal-Mart. The *only* reason I would ever consider going to a Wal-Mart in this city would be if I really needed something in the middle of the night, and even in that circumstance I would just go to Disco Kroger.

    Some people do not like Wal-Mart. Period.

  • Opening on Halloween?!! Wonderful, there should be very entertaining people-watching.

  • We’re picking up the tab for this and the new balustrades on a bridge that’s going to be knocked down due to it’s dangerous condition. (Anyone seen the City’s report on the Yale St. bridge’s structural condition? It was supposed to be released in May. If it’s as bad or worse than TxDOTs inspection–showing this bridge as the worst in Texas–I guess the City is busy trying to bury it.) The public is getting screwed and paying for it.

  • Old School is right – Ainbinder will be reimbursed for that paint job. This is one of the items that wasn’t originally in the 380 but it seems it’s really up to Ainbinder and Walmart what they can add and delete from the 380. And yes, COH was too dumb to realize Walmart had changed their colors at the time they painted the underpass.

    Yale Street will have about 75% less trees under the 380 too – they’ve already taken out mature live oaks on Yale – they’ll get their tree credits back from planting on the esplanade on Heights. They accidentally took out one live oak they were supposed to save – the one closest to the load limited bridge.

    Why are they taking all these trees from Yale and replanting on Yale? Probably to increase the view of the Walmart from Yale.

    The 380 – wider sidewalks, thicker trees – not so much.

  • Ooops – I mean NOT replanting on Yale. 75% less tree caliper on Yale.

  • loudest complainers going to the wal mart? don’t think so. the development completed so far already looks trashy and it’s brand new. heights market? they take the neighborhood’s brand with little thought to the neighborhood itself. no stretch to keep driving by china mart, the liquor store, and coming pay day loan shark, and kindred businesses.

  • Which is so stupid. Nothing is more important in this city than shade trees. Nothing.

  • What about the abandoned railroad bridge over White Oak Bayou, parallel to Yale? No rails-to-trails will ever happen there at this point. The bridge and its footings catch debris during heavy rains and worsen flooding at Yale. What entity is responsible for that?

  • It’s interesting how insecure and defensive so many WalMart shoppers are whenever people that dislike WalMart (for whatever reason) say so. Does it make a WalMart shopper feel better and more secure to believe that those who say they don’t shop there, secretly do? As noted, some despise the company, never shop there, and won’t shop there. Why does that fact cause WalMart devotees so much apparent grief? Why do they care?
    You never see Target, HEB, or for that matter, Neiman Marcus shoppers going ballistic if someone says they won’t shop in those stores. Maybe there’s brainwashing additive in the A/C at WalMart that causes this reaction?

  • Texasota – absolutely. And if not for the 380, which was supposed to make the development “better”, Ainbinder wouldn’t be doing anything to the esplanade on Heights and might have replanted trees on Yale to replace trees removed from Yale. 75% less tree caliper on Yale – thanks 380!

    And the total increase in caliper is 12 inches (planned gain minus planned gain minus planned loss minus the extra live oak they killed). Twelve inches is equal to one of the good sized live oaks they took.

    $6.05M to the developer for 12 inches of tree and a barren Yale Street.

  • Jon,

    It is not that the anti-Walmart crowd causes Walmart shoppers grief. It is that a few of us know that it takes so little effort to send you people into a frenzy that we cannot resist. Why, just the mere mention of the name Walmart nearly sends you people into cardiac arrest. How could I pass up the opportunity to imagine you pounding your keyboard in frustration, with just a few well aimed darts thrown your way? And, it’s easy, too. You’re too predictable.

    Anyway, see you at the Grand Opening!

  • This city grew without trees.Most of the trees you, especially South of Buffalo Bayou, were planted in the early 1900’s. If you want historic, you should be thrilled that trees are disappearing.

    Honestly, the Wal Mart, etc is being “developed”. That means some things go away and aren’t immediately replaced. if you feel strongly, complain to the City or wait and see if the landscaping is replaced at the end of the project when it’s less likely to be damaged.

    The rail bridges across White Oak can’t be removed without a major study on the downstream impact during high flow rate events. I would love to see them gone sooner rather than later, possibly replaced by concrete arch bridges that don’t impede flow in the bayou.

  • I’m all for progress and development Ross, but live oaks don’t grow overnight. Assuming Ainbinder destroyed those trees to save money, do you really think the amount of money saved was worth destroying a resource that takes decades to replace?
    This city gets really freaking hot in the summer, but the heat is actually completely bearable as long as there’s adequate shade. Standing on bare, unshaded concrete, on the other hand, is unpleasant to the point of being potentially dangerous.

  • I thought the storage facility by the bridge painted it… their colors match and the bridge was painted about the same time as it opened.

  • Texasota,

    Ross is right. Much of Houston naturally is a flat treeless prairie except for the far north and eastern portions of the area that enter the east Texas Pine country. The only trees that would naturally grow would be some willows right along the bayous and the pines.

    All of the trees in the Heights were planted by people after the developer clearcut the entire area of the few naturally growing trees.

    All the trees in Rice University and many of the trees at Herman Park were removed when these places were built.

    Historic aerial photos reveal a lot before Houston really started to spread.

  • If the trees were on the City ROW, then Ainbinder had City permission to cut them down. The City is pretty hard core about their trees, in my experience. Complaints probably ought to go to the City, not Swamplot.

  • Nice row of live oaks getting cut down? You are paying for that, too. Could the City have used the 6 mil as leverage to get Ainbinder to preserve the trees? Did the City claim that whole point of the agreement was to give the city “control” over the development and get a development that was above city standards? Did the City just blow smoke up our butts to get people to think that it was a good idea to give 6 mil away for the benefit of the largest and richest retailer in the world? Yes, yes and yes.

  • The oaks were planted by people – probably in the 1980’s. Nobody thinks evenly-spaced 30-year old live oaks planted between the sidewalk and the street sprang up on their own and have been here since before 1900.

    Complaints do need to go to the City about this.

  • I drive that stretch twice a day to and from work and the nice beige paint job has already been tagged in red with huge gang graffiti. Oh the joy. As for the bridge payload issue, I have witnesses quite a few loaded 18 wheelers cross the bridge and hang a left into the side development next to the strip mall that is already occupied. Shame shame shame. Traffic is getting ready to suck in this stretch.

    If any city workers are reading this, please add some time to the northbound Heights Blvd light at I-10 so we don’t have to sit through 3 cycles to get into the neighborhood. Thanks a bushel.

  • Regardless of how those trees came to be, Houston does need more trees and less concrete.

    I was out yesterday and there is a marked difference driving down Memorial in the villages and Memorial in West Houston.

  • Yeah I don’t really care what Houston looked like before development.
    I support the existence of large shade trees because of their utility to human beings, *not* out of some weird nostalgia for a past I never experienced.

  • Trees are trees. And it takes a long time for a little tree to become a big tree. But well, money talks. And common sense walks. As for the “agreement,” well, again don’t blame me I didn’t vote for her. But I do wonder how many people who complain about Wal-Mart voted for her again this past fall.

  • Why should Wal-Mart or the city care about shade trees? They only shade people who walk or are on bikes, and let’s face it, those people don’t have enough cargo capacity for Wal-Mart shopping bags compared to an SUV.

  • I wouldn’t shop at WalMart if they gave me the place. Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

  • Went to the new Great Clips that’s already open at the strip center on Yale across from the new Wal-Mart ($6.99 haircut sale). Heard that the liquor store is opening soon. Also that a Chipotle, Taco Cabana, Which Wich and Smashburger are coming soon…

  • @Stating The Obvious The rumor about the old Schlotzky’s building owner painting the underpass was actually told to me by the folks at the storage facility. Who knows?

  • The Heights was the first planned community in Houston – that means, street grids were smaller and sidewalks were lined with trees to encourage pedestrian movement. The Live Oaks destroyed were originally planted by Trees for Houston during their 1992 initiative. The City’s Urban Forester awarded Ainbinder a permit to remove all 19 trees from Yale. Ainbinder’s crew marked one tree for preservation, but bulldozed it anyway (and didn’t account for it in their mitigation plan for replacing the lost caliper inches). All these lost caliper inches—though, not hardy, shade-bearing Live Oaks–will be replanted on Heights Blvd. Ainbinder is essentially destroying pedestrian mobility on Yale and the West End to put trees on a disconnected “jogging path” that no one will use. It’s clear that they’re removing trees from Yale and the southern edge of the bayou (where serious erosion is already evident) to open up viewpoints from the freeway to this big-box. Their landscape plans evidence no intention of planting any street trees around the entire site – none are even shown in their parking lot. That is a stunning omission that the City is letting slide. Planting street trees is a standard urban planning practice. Where’s the Mayor and CM Cohen on this? It’s unbelievable that this developer was handed $6.5 MILLION dollars to destroy the trees, and ultimately mobility, in this neighborhood.