Comment of the Day Runner-Up: Drying Out North Shepherd

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: DRYING OUT NORTH SHEPHERD “In a perfect world, the ‘dry’ restrictions from the Shepherd/Durham corridor would be removed, yet the residential areas to the east would stay dry, and Shady Acres over to Ella would also be dry, except on 19th and 20th. This would spur commercial development onto the more high traffic streets, and let the others with their 18′ wide pavement and drainage ditches stay residential. But hey, it’s Houston, so not gonna happen. I think commercial businesses from out of town still are unaware of the income growth around the Heights and are using old demographic numbers. A new strip center took the place of one of these used car lots up at 22nd and Shepherd last year. It has yet to be more than 50% leased out. I think it holds a precious metals buyer and a pay by the month cell phone store. It’s going to take a few more years, and some better income surveys before there’s a rush to develop this corridor.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on A Guide to North Shepherd’s Auto Parts]

18 Comment

  • Clearly someone is seeing the potential – thank goodness… even north of the loop. Cottonwood, Shepherd Park, Pink’s Pizza, and the fancy new LA Fitness (gasp, North of 43rd!) have all sprung up in the last year or so. I agree it may take a few years, but I actually see a complete transformation of North Shepherd all the way up to where it meets 45. One can hope, anyway. Hey – maybe some of the wealthy parents hauling their kids up to St. Pius High School north of Pinemont everyday know some developers? I’m sure they’d love a Starbucks up there for the drive.

  • I’m sure developers are well aware of the current demographics of that area, frankly it’s still pretty sketchy and I’m sure that’s why that strip center is 50 percent leased and what it does have caters to a lower income demographic. Maybe you can push for a Dollar Tree. As for the area being dry, no part of Houston should be dry, it’s like the old blue law…totally silly

  • This makes me wonder: how do businesses decide on locations? What data do they use? I am surprised by neighborhoods that get neglected by retail, such as the area discussed here, or in my part of town, Meyerland. All the new grocery stores, for example, open ITL or OTB and skip the “donut.” Property values are rising rapidly in Meyerland/Westbury, but retail has not followed.

  • Unless locals who know better (and can afford it) beat the chains to the punch.

  • Why does commercial development need to be tied to removal of the “dry” restrictions? Restaurants operate just fine with those in place (see DownHouse). The only thing it really keeps out are liquor stores and bars/clubs, which don’t belong right up against houses anyway. Why can’t commercial development be non-bar, non-club retail? The neighborhood could use some other retail–clothing stores, home goods, etc., and services like doctor’s offices and child care. There really isn’t a shortage of bars in the vicinity of this strip of Shepherd.

  • Help me out. Only the original City of the Heights is dry and shall remain dry unless vote wet(see 1937 Court Case). Shepherd is not in this district.

  • Most all new construction / renovated homes in GO OF goes for 700k and more. Out of my league. But good for those who can swing it. There are some nice places coming up in this part of town. Wish we looked in the area 10yrs ago.

  • Thanks Ross, Shepherd and Durham are not on the original old maps. But how can we have drinking in a dry zone as stated in the 1937 court case- The Heights is dry until voted wet. I know several people that were told they could not get a permit. They must not know the right people.

  • @ Howard – The dodge is that the places that offer Granny’s rheumatiz medicine are technically “private clubs.” That’s pretty much how all of Texas worked until liquor by the drink was brought back in the early ’70’s.

  • Dodge-to evade or deceive. Dry is dry.
    If private clubs are ok, why has this just surfaced for the special connected few?

  • @Sarah – retailers use a variety of services that provide demographic data. Typically they look at demo’s in either (or both) drive time rings or just plain radii. The more advanced ones have models that can predict sales based on those demos as well as other location factors. They look at other retailers in the area, both competitors and ones that they feel like encourage their sales. They look at traffic counts and a whole variety of other factors.

    There’s a constant battle for good information. While demographic reporting will always lag somewhat, most retailers are constantly trying to get the best possible information to help them make good informed decisions before they write a big check and make a long term commitment to a new site.

  • I can tell you for certain, that most typical national retailers would have a hard time jumping into the Shepherd/Durham corridor without some serious handholding. Regardless of what the demos might look like inthe surrounding neighborhood, its tough to sell non-locals on being surrounded by cheap auto malls, pawn shops and tax-preparing locations.

  • At a previous job I was managing the Texas expansion for a large national retailer. Circa 2006 or so my Houston-based broker brought me a site in the neighborhood of Shepherd & Washington. I visited the site and told him no way. It was across from a pawn shop and had general junky retail around it. He eventually talked me into it. I took it to my boss. He rejected it and my broker and I had to talk him into it. We took it to my boss’s boss. She rejected it. My boss, my broker and I had to talk her into it. We sent it for approval to our local Operations manager. He had to be talked into it. When it went up for approval before the Real Estate committee, there was a big fight and only after much cajoling was it narrowly approved.

    When that store finally opened, it was the #2 performing store in the chain.

    It’s tough to get people to look outside the box, but sometimes it can be very rewarding.

  • @Howard

    The argument behind the ethical implications of “dry” really meaning “dry” aside, it doesn’t take being specially connected. It does take patience, money and a propensity for dealing with bull—-. Which, in turn, does weed out a certain clientele and ebbs the flow of everybody and their mother entering the game and playing it off the cuff in the Heights. Which most residents will argue is a good thing.

  • The key to development on Shepherd is going to be land value and asthetics. Driving down Shepherd is like driving down I45. It is not pleasant. Especially since I45 is the primary artery into Houston. Let’s look at one thing that would improve both the land value. First, establish a Shepherd Business Grp that would work on raising funds. The funds would be to improve the streetscape. Trees….Lighting….bury power lines……Billboard removal/regulation…..ETC. You can do it phases. This happened to Yale Street a number of years ago…and it made a difference. Land values will follow and structured development. The only way to improve is to initiate positive change.

  • [This is a re-post since this whole North Shepherd discussion is happening across several threads and the other one seems dead.]

    I disagree that N. Shepherd will be “the new Washington.” I predict that it will end up being more like the “new west Westheimer” with big-box-anchored strip center development instead. I can easily imagine a fancy HEB, Hobby Lobby, and a Staples going into a revised Garden Oaks Shopping Center just south of Sears.

    As a resident of the area, I would welcome the convenience and alternatives such development would provide. (I’m not so sure, however, about the increased traffic and likely ugliness.) I’d bet that developers are watching the evolving demographics (if it continues) and the connection to 610 on the south and 45 to the north that make it convenient for commuters to shop on the way home from work.

    [Note to editor: maybe “comment of the day” posts should not themselves be allowed comments but instead should link back to the original post to prevent confusion.]

  • I just moved into an older neighborhood close to N. Shepherd and Pinemont. I have friends that live there as well. The demos ARE changing and I’m betting there will be some major retail development in the area in the next 3-5 yrs.