H-E-B Plans To Build a Montrose Grocery Store at Wilshire Village

No, H-E-B isn’t just buying the former site of the Wilshire Village Apartments at the corner of Alabama and Dunlavy as a real estate investment. H-E-B Houston president Scott McClelland tells the Houston Business Journal‘s Allison Wollam that the company expects to open its Montrose store on that site next year:

We . . . have a site tied up at Alabama and Dunlavy in the Montrose area that we’re finalizing. I think that it’s far enough from our recently opened Bissonnet and Buffalo Speedway store and it will be a good new market for us.

Okay, while we’re at it . . . what are H-E-B’s plans for the Heights?


We’re always asked if we’re coming to The Heights, and we’re looking hard for a location. It would be on my wish list to say we were able to find a suitable location in The Heights by next year.

McClelland says the company plans to open 5 new Houston-region stores this year:

including one new store in Katy and a second store in Atascocita, plus a store in Lukfin and one in College Station. Additionally, the company will remodel and update six of its existing stores in the Houston market, which will create hundreds of new construction jobs.

On McClelland’s longer term wish list: new stores in or around Clear Lake and Kemah, and a “big” one in Baytown.

Photo showing Wilshire Village site from Dunlavy St.: Carl Guderian [license]

59 Comment

  • Well, whether are not the touted location (I even touted it) at Yale is the one they end up using, we do know they are committed to building one in the heights.

    I wonder if remodel means the really sad looking HEB Pantry on W. TC Jester north of 18th St.

  • I’ll be surprised if HEB doesn’t work very hard to make this store fit in with the neighborhood. I suspect they understand that clear cutting the lot and putting a suburban style store here won’t work. One thing that HEB seems to do is to try different models that are adapted to their neighborhoods, whether it be the Buffalo Speedway store, Central Market, or the “regular” HEBs.

    It would be a terrbile kickoff to start off by sawing down a bunch of old live oaks. I’m sure they will try to save what they can. I doubt they want to start of their marketing campaign by alienating the locals. I’m willing to withhold judgment until I see the plans for the site.

    The real concern with the site will be traffic. Alabama is two lanes, with a middle turn lane, Dunlavy is two lanes. If people were worried that a high-rise residential tower would have brought traffic, just wait until you see what a supermarket does.

    Oh, and this will be the final nail in the coffin of the Westheimer/Shepherd Randall’s.

  • Mr. McClellan, this is my request for something architecturally appealing and appropriate for this very unique neighborhood. Maybe a little outdoor eating area, as was mentioned in the Chron article? It could be under the shade of some of those great magnolias.

  • I don’t expect them to keep the trees, but perhaps the new mayor might put some pressure on them. It would be smart for them to just pave the parking lot around them, but I really don’t see that happening.

    Guess I’m more concerned about what will happen to the Fiesta center across the street. If they go away, which I’d assume them would, is that place going to be razed and covered in the high-rise thought to have been planned for Wilshire?

    And I can’t say that I see the Randalls shutting down. They service a slightly different area and have survived having the Kroger on Montrose, Fiesta, and the other HEB at Weslayan(?) for quite some time now.

  • I don’t see Fiesta going anywhere. As mentioned by others in other posts, Fiesta has dedicated customers. On top of that, Fiesta will just have to adapt. Just because a competitor opens up right by you doesn’t mean you tuck your tail under and run away. I would see Fiesta doing some remodeling (potentially prior to HEB being completed and opened).

  • jeez, the last thing this part of town needs is yet another grocery store. i’ve previously stated that if fiesta ever leaves the ‘trose i’ll leave so it appears the clock is now ticking.

    i imagine fiesta will continue to do a good job of carrying lower priced items that other stores would pass on for higher profit margins, but HEB has a lot of money in their pockets and i’m sure they’d be more than willing to cut their margins until they drive fiesta out of business. hopefully the close proximity of other stores will keep them from going that far.

    that intersection is going to be a nightmare though.

  • I had heard that the HEB on 18th wouldn’t be remodeled due to flood plain location. Wish they would open a big HEB in the VACANT GROCERY STORE on Ella & Judiway. Kroger has the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest market wrapped up unless one goes to the Fiesta on N. Shepherd.

  • from what i have seen, heb indeed makes an effort towards ‘good design’, given it’s a grocery that’s impressive. i can’t say if i owned a house around there i’d be too happy about another grocery coming in…but maybe at last they will get storm sewer lines installed along dunlevy.

  • From an appraisal standpoint, those trees add value to the property. And if you have the ability to shade your customers’ cars under 70 year old live oaks in a Houston summer, it’s worth trying to save them.

    HEB has wanted to come to that spot for awhile. There were rumblings in 2003. To differentiate themselves from Fiesta, Randall’s, Gray Kroger, Disco Kroger and Whole Foods a mile down the road, they will have to do something interesting. I’m curious to see what they have in mind.

  • Mr. McClelland,

    Please sir, come to the Heights soon. We are so ready for this. My wallet and taste buds await a clean new Heights Market with an awesome prepared foods section and fresh produce, meat and seafood. Oh and booze. Thank you much.

  • Living a few blocks to the west, I’m curious as to whether Sul Ross and Branard will wind up dead-ending into a wall, or whether they will somehow integrate pedestrian access

    I’m sure our local land mogul Mr. Bhakhri is less than thrilled at the idea of HEB as a neighbor

  • All these grocery stores act as if anyone can still afford to buy food.

  • There used to be an HEB on 11th street between Yale and Shepherd. I believe it was using the same building as the old Moore’s food store. Not sure why they left and razed that building to make another bank. Why didn’t residents use the one that was already there? Just saying, if that one didn’t work out, Why would HEB risk another one in the same area?


  • I’m sure our local land mogul Mr. Bhakhri is less than thrilled at the idea of HEB as a neighbor.

    I’m sure quite a few people are less than thrilled. Particularly those north of West Alabama in Winlow Place.

    But, well, no zoning means no zoning. And even with zoning, well, more than likely this would have retained a commercial/multi-family use designation.

    Should prove interesting to see how Grocers Supply reacts. Even though HEB has its own supply division more than likely it buys produce from the same people Grocers Supply does. So it could get a little interesting if not nasty if HEB decides it just wants to get rid of the competition instead of just being competitive. I wonder if they did any studies to see how much business Central Market and HEB/West U will lose to the new location? I doubt Central Market will lose much but HEB/West U may lose a lot.

  • Once rail is in on Richmond, will eastbound traffic be allowed to turn left on Dunlavy?

  • Maybe instead of trying to compete on the same level, Fiesta could focus its efforts on being a specialty foods store or ethnic food market similar to the likes of the Hong Kong Markets. Otherwise, I imagine it’d be hard for grocery goers to resist trekking across the street to the shiny new facility for the same goods that would likely be priced similarly.

  • Sul Ross, & Barnard, appear to be open streets, and it probably would be HEB’S call, to have them open or closed.

  • Once rail is in on Richmond, will eastbound traffic be allowed to turn left on Dunlavy?

    Depends on Metro. Which may or may not do studies to show which of the the north-south intersection streets would demand a left-turn lane. Since Dunlavy runs all the way to Allen Parkway, the assumption would be that there would be a left-turn lane but of course never make assumptions about Metro. The viability of rail and its impact on businesses apparently is something Metro never studied. As can be seen along Main Street particuarly as you head south towards Richmond. The same disaster will probably befall businesses along Richmond and possibly along Post Oak Boulevard. These “left turn lanes” will probably be a major point of contention in the planning of the line along Post Oak Boulevard. Far more than along Richmond if for no other reason than you have some “well-heeled and well-connected” customers of the businesses along Post Oak Boulevard. It may not matter. Metro seems not to care about what anyone says.

  • A few months ago, I participated in a focus group about grocery stores. In the end, it was revealed that it was for HEB, and they were looking at the property across from the art car museum on Yale. Sounds like they passed on that. Too bad. For most of the group, I thought the focus group was sponsored by Kroger, and at one point I said, “If HEB were to come to the Heights, they would own the market.” 8 of the 10 of us agreed on that, even after discussing the flagship store that Kroger on 11th was already well underway of becoming.

  • @Cap’n McBarnacle:

    For ~five hours every day, that middle lane on Alabama is NOT a left turn lane.

    In the mornings (6:30-9:00, I think), the middle lane becomes one-way eastbound, and all left turns at intersections are banned. During those hours, any westbound traffic wanting to turn left into a business on the south side of Alabama must do so from the northmost lane, thus holding up the rest of the westbound traffic behind them.

    In the evenings (16:30-19:00, I think), the middle lane becomes one-way westbound, all left turns at intersections are again banned, and any eastbound traffic wanting to turn left into a business on the north side of Alabama (e.g. the funeral home west of the planned HEB) must do so from the southmost lane, thus holding up the rest of the eastbound traffic behind them.

    These are the “temporary” measures that were put into place when Spur 527 and US 59 were under construction around 2002-2005. The street was *supposed* to be restored to its previous state with bike lanes on both sides after the spur reopened, but COH or TXDOT or some other entity reneged on the original plan.

    I think it’s time to move. Richmond will be impassible because of rail construction and then the toy train after Metro takes away one lane in each direction. Alabama will be impassible because of the HEB traffic.

    This is going to suck.

  • Googlemaster,

    I remember going to those meetings about the “temporary measures” related the the 59 traffic and the bold-faced lies the politicos made. I think they need to do away with that contraflow lane and go back to the way it used to be as a dedicated left turn lane — as they all assured us it would be.
    I cant imagine rush hour customers being unable to turn left off Alabama to go to that HEB store. I’m assuming HEB will get considerably more traffic than the Fiesta.

  • Cool, given that I just closed yesterday on a house in Winlow Place.

    We certainly don’t need another grocery store in the neighborhood; that much is clear.

    For a few hours a day the traffic there is already bad. It took me a couple of changes of the light to get across West Alabama going south on Dunlavy. I am resigned to this happening but I sure hope that the city forces some pretty major upgrades at that intersection.

    As for the reversible lanes, they are dangerous as hell. I use West Alabama to get to and from work and if I had a dollar for everytime some idiot that either can’t read the signs or understand the illuminated big red x or no left turn symbols has come at me in the wrong lane and almost hit me head on I’d be a rich man. I don’t understand why the reversible lane is so hard to understand.

  • i don’t think it’s worth blaming the drivers for not understanding/paying attention to a system that is not common to this area and makes absolute no sense on the street it was put in place on.

    i can imagine most people unfamiliar to the area don’t what the hell to make of it.

  • Welcome to the neighborhood Charlie.

    The reversible lanes have been that way for what, 5 years or so? Before that they were left turn lanes. I still catch myself wanting to use the middle lane for a left because I did it that way for years. It’s weird how hard those habits are to break

  • The comments about HEB using predatory pricing to drive out competition so they can jack up the prices after they leave were right on target. All one needs to do is to go to an HEB without competition and you’ll really get sticker shock. That Fiesta will be toast.

  • half of the complainers are complaining that there are already to many grocery stores in the neighborhood. The other half are worried about HEB driving fiesta out of business and then raising prices because there won’t be any competition.

    Swamplot is Schizophrenic

  • By any marketing or commercial measure, another grocery store in the area is not needed. HEB may be a little bit too optimistic about it’s ability to drive out competitors. They would be better off in the Heights. I don’t get it. Then again, I am not in commerical real estate :)

  • Jimmy- you are right about the HEB Pantry, but that store was a janky little dump. People’s expectations have changed and the demographics in the Heights have changed – completely. Kroger has the head start, no doubt, but those folks on the Washington Ave corridor need a place to to buy gourmet dog food and prepared meals. The Yale south of I-10 location is a natural.

  • I heard that HEB is waiting for the new feeder lanes in the Heights from Patterson to Yale to be constructed. TXDOT is supposed to break ground on them this month. Once the feeder lanes are in place the I-10 @ Yale location would be easy access.

  • Oh Jimmy, that HEB on 11th Street was awful. About a month before it closed, I received a notice by mail that they had remodeled. I was so excited. Well, they had moved the produce dept around a bit, and it was an improvement, and they had repainted only a little. But all the refrigerator cases were still overrun with rust, the floors were beyond dinghy (and I like rustic, these were not rustic). I guess that was their last shot at making that location go without investing any real money, and we all saw right through it. They closed very shortly thereafter.

  • The way HEB are talking this sounds like a done deal as far as the City is concerned…is that the case?

  • Brookesmith,

    If HEB is waiting for the TXDOT feeders to be completed, Heights residents may as well look at other options. That construction plan is getting a lot of flack from the neighborhoods and even if it does get started, it will not be completed in a few months. I am thinking it will be about at least a year’s worth of construction, from ground-breaking to ribbon-cutting.

  • That feeder road project is estimated at around 30 months, but a lot of that time is spent on areas where there is not traffic currently.

  • Wow, 30 months that is even longer than I thought it would be.

    Who wants to take bets on the over/under being 3 years for this project to be complete?

    In regards to HEB, I guess we can stop holding our breath for that location to be “the one”.

    I believe that CBRE is asking way too much for it anyway (~$20MM)

  • Remember, that 30s months is not all shovels and concrete. All the bridges across the depressed portion of I-10 are going to be rehabbed. You have to remember they are pretty much untouched since they were built in the 60s. Fifty years is a good design life for a bridge. It should be inspected and rehabbed as needed.

    You also have to remember that the main lanes can’t be reduced during peak hours. That restriction impairs the speed of construction that is possible.

    From experience, 3 years seems like a reasonable amount of time. I don’t know if this project has incentives/penalties built into regarding time like the Katy Freeway and West Loop projects.

    My issue with the Yale location is Yale St itself. the north bound lanes transition from 1 lane to to with no room for a turning lane. It would most likely need a signal and a street extention to Heights for traffic mitigation measures. This has some added cost that may make HEB weary of the location.

    With all that, I still like the location becasue the nearest grocery store is Kroger at Gray or 11th and the Target which has limited selection.

  • Agreed, the location is fantastic, but the current infrastructure to the plot is terrible. I never thought about the Yale/Center intersection, that is a crappy one.

    Not to mention that there may be some HAZMAT cleaning needed since it was an industrial site previously.

  • If memory serves, wasn’t Alabama contraflow in the early 80’s also? Then after the big Richmond reconstruction about 1986 or so it went to center left turn? Or am I remembering Richmond being like that before the reconstruction. I remember that one or the other of them was the first place I had ever seen those hanging red “X” and green arrow signs when I first moved here in 1980.

  • Well,

    Studewood still utilizes this configuration with southbound using the middle lane in the morning and northbound in the evening. All other times it’s a left turn lane.

    I don’t see any reason to change Alabama back.

  • Terry – I am talking between Yale and the Blvd., where the “Sons of Herman” used to be.
    And the last I heard about the feeder, they had no money for it, which is why it wasn’t done when the rest of I-10 was widened.

  • Finness,

    They have the money for the feeder road project and it was let to the contractors in January. They will begin movement 45 days from that with contruction happening by 90 days from the let date in January.

    The money was shifted from the Grand Parkway project in Katy which was put on hold.

    You can already see the contractors setting up baseline surveys so the plans can be tied to the real world. I’ve looked over the plans to provide assistance to the community groups in the corridor to understand the level of construction about to happen.

  • kjb434

    “I don’t see any reason to change Alabama back.”

    Other than that it sucks the way it is.

  • How does it suck? It’s maximizing lane use for the direction of traffic.

    TxDOT worked with the city to set it up that way as a mitigation measure the US59 construction. The reason it hasn’t gone back is because the city wants to keep it that way. TxDOT was ready to change it back. The city said they are OK with leaving it the way it was. As I mentioned, Studewood is a good example of this configuration that has been in place for years.

  • kjb434- I recently searched TxDOT’s project website for the Yale feeder widening but couldn’t find it. Do you happen to have a link?

  • The old HEB on 11th in the Heights was a DRY store, which is a good bet as to why they went ahead and closed it. Would be best if they just updated the nasty old HEB on 18th & TC Jester instead of trying to build a new monster in the Heights. I would choose HEB over Kroger any day, but think the Sons of Herman location would have been a cluster.

  • iLackTact,

    If anybody could find it on the TxDOT website, they deserve a purple heart going in to fight that beast of a sight.

    I know the project is funded because I attended a public meeting in Cottage Grove at the Stevenson Elementary with local, state, and national representatives and about 100+ locals. The TxDOT officials discussing the project an that it let that morning the day the meeting was held.

    On February 18, the companion project to provide the stormwater mitigation component of the project went to public meeting at Reagan High School in the Heights. This portion of the project will begin in the fall of this year.

    The road construction portion is funded with stimulus dollars that was to be allocated to the Grand Parkway project. Do tot he speedy nature of the change in course from one project to the next, the TxDOT website is not likely to be updated.

    Just check in with state representative Jessica Farrah or HoR Sheila Jackson Lee. They have been in contact with the local community to ensure TxDOT is hearing the voices of the public. City Council Member Ed Gonzales has been involved and even made a public comment at the Feb 18th meeting.

  • KJB, I believe you, I know the project is real, I’ve been following all the community meetings. I was just looking for the info straight from the horse’s mouth. I even searched for projects under Jessica Farrar. Oh well, no purple heart today, thanks anyway.

  • iLackTact,

    I had this discussion with others about this and we come to the conclusion that this project moved so fast all of a sudden after the Grand Parkway was put on hold that the website just hasn’t caught up. TxDOT had to spend the money and this project was sitting there ready to go.

  • The Sons of Herman site would not have to be dry. There used to be a liquor store at the Boulevard and the bayou – Kims #1. Tapping in to all the people who now live within drunks-puking-in-your-driveway distance of Washington makes that site a good choice. Enter from Yale or Heights. Then maybe those condos that are 6 feet from the RR tacks would finally sell.

  • I guess I’m kind of ambivalent about the Bama contraflow lane, other than the fact that the City and TxDot promised everyone in the area they’d switch it back after the 59 construction. We all pretty much knew they were full of crap, but I still hate it when they flat out lie about things. I don’t think traffic is heavy enough at rush hour to need it, and I’d rather be able to turn left when I feel like it. So there.

    Assuming that HEB will generate some automobile traffic, and that people heading west on Alabama during rush hour will want to stop by the store and pick up some food…How will they deal with not turning left into the store? That contraflow lane is going to have to go BS Rhere will need to be some major traffic mitigation at that intersection.

  • New HEB in the 006? That will be the sweetest thing ever. Can’t wait to watch them sluts from WU shop the zucchini aisles.

  • Here is the article from the Chronicle (1/05/10)about the I-10 feeder project. Its being funded by stimulus $. That’s why its happening so fast. It was proposed back in 2002 but was never done. They have to break ground by a certain date to use the stimulus money.


  • It’s actually the 098, but close enough
    I love the contraflow lanes for getting to downtown and back because either people don’t understand them or are scared to use them – it’s kind of nice flying by the people in the right lane, and the “near misses” aren’t as common as they used to be. You actually can turn left from pretty much anywhere but the main intersections, so I don’t see why people wouldn’t be able to turn into the parking lot of an HEB. Turning left back onto W Alabama would be a pain without a turn lane on Dunlavy, though

  • must be “shovel ready”

  • I hope the HEB at Gulfgate is on the list for renovation. I want into that store the other day and it looked like a Fiesta. Gross.

    HEB clashes with the local culture, but all the 006 grocery stores, especially the Krogers on Montrose, are just plain creepy.

    I hope they end up building a Central Market in EaDo, that would be amazing for development.

  • Cap’n thanks for the welcome.

    I don’t mind the contraflow lanes. I understand them and don’t find them all that confusing but I suppose some could because they just aren’t common. They are well signed in a pretty easy way to interpret though, so a driver really has to be not paying attention to miss it.

    In a way the near misses are exhilerating. They give me the chance to scream about idiots that can’t understand the big red x or the symbol for no left turn.

    Okie, you do raise a question that I have had. Is it only no left at major intersections or no left at all? That seems unclear and some people believe it is no left anywhere while others think it is just at the intersections with traffic lights as they are outfitted with the no left turn symbols.


  • The no left turn is only at signalized intersections.

    The contra-flow lane on Alabama and Studewood are the more simplistic implementations of the concept.

    Cities that need increased directional capacities on an urban street have implemented much larger scale contra-flow. There configuration with a 6 lane road with 4 for inbound and 2 for outbound in the mornings and change it to the opposite in the evenings for rush our times. All other times it’s 3 each way. For special occasions it can be changed to all 6 one way or a 5 and 1 configuration. Vancouver, BC and Memphis,TN have streets that do this. The Golden Gate bridge has a variation on this also.

    Most implementations don’t have any barriers and the stripping is all dashes.

  • Thanks KJB.

    I lived in DC which has a parkway, the Rock Creek Parkway which becomes one way at rush hour. It was somewhat of a challenge to remember then it was going in one direction or the other but it worked well for locals…less so for tourists.

    I am not sure I understand the no left philosophy except at Montrose. A left is really just a left no matter where you make it. So you can’t at Mandell but you can at any street before or after without a signal. I just don’t see the difference; either way it holds up traffic.

  • Mr MC Clelland
    I live in Baytown hope your wish list isn’t very long for the big one.