H-E-B Would Like To Plant a Store in a Wetter Heights Dry Zone

H-E-B Bellaire Market, 5130 Cedar St., Bellaire, Texas

The semi-shrouded Houston Heights Beverage Coalition released a statement today filling in some details on the group’s plan to legalize take-home beer and wine sales in the Heights’ dry zone. The initiative was floated quietly on Cinco de Mayo by way of 109-word newspaper legal notice; the group’s longer press release clarifies that it will try to collect around 1,500 signatures in 60 days to call a special election for residents of the no-longer-a-city of Houston Heights. That election wouldn’t change the zone’s ban on liquor sales (or the need for a private-club-workaround for folks intent on selling it anyway), but would allow grocery stores to get in on the alcoholic action.

Coalition chair Steve Reilley tells the Houston Press‘s Phaedra Cook that H-E-B supports the measure — adding that the chain is probably going to move into the area if the change passes. Reilley also says that other grocery chains are involved with the coalition, but doesn’t tell Cook which ones.

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As to where would-be wet grocery stores might land in the dry zone, should the law be overturned: The Leader‘s Betsy Denson pointed out earlier this year that the party’s-over former site of the Fiesta Market on N. Shepherd at 24th St. falls well short of the 6 acres that H-E-B has previously said it requires when scouting potential new locations. But the double-decker H-E-B now officially planned for the site of the chain’s existing Bellaire store at 5130 Cedar St. (shown above) will squeeze onto a space just a smidgen larger than 3 acres.

The coalition has hired Austin-based election PR company Texas Petition Strategies to help collect signatures from dry zone residents and, if that goes as planned, to enthuse voters. If enough signatures are collected and then verified by the city secretary, an election would be called for this November. 

Photo of H-E-B at 5130 Cedar St.: Wayne A.

Taking Names

34 Comment

  • – If this is really for an HEB at the Fiesta site then why not just restrict the geography of the ballot to make just that site wet? That way the rest of the Heights is not at risk. It seems nefarious to suggest HEB is even interested in the site when they have publicly stated they are pursuing another location two miles away.
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    – Indeed this appears to be a coalition of business owners who want to ease up TABC restrictions in the Heights, and not HEB. Will Mr. Reilly tell us who his clients are? Be transparent!
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    – The Coalition got it wrong if they though 1500 signatures is sufficient to put this on a ballot. They are going to face a legal battle.
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    – There is too much risk for any Heights residents to even consider signing the petition and no definitive reward. If HEB is interested, let them speak now.

  • This should only get 1 or 2 comments

  • @neighbor,
    The law doesn’t allow for lot-by-lot local option elections. If it did, anyone in a dry area could vote their own house “wet” and start selling booze.

  • MAN YOUR BATTLESTATIONS: We have hit Heights level DEFCON 4. ALERT ALERT! DEFCON 4! We will need all, ALL Walmart veterans on standby. Woodland Heights be on alert for the surprise flank from the east! This is not a drill people! While our defense shield was down for routine spiritual cleansing and offering of virgins to the Bungalow Gods, our main centrifuge was hit hard by supersonic suburban retail. We are now seeing major advances from our enemies to the west and northwest. We have strategic maneuvers set in place for this as many of you know. We are now facing code name “Re-Elect Carter” LEVEL 5. We still have enough in the rainy day fund to buy at least twelve and a half bumper stickers, but in light of this we are urging the entire coalition to begin stockpiling their herb immediately.. AND REMEMBER: WE TAKE NO PRISONERS!!!

  • Angostura, but they do allow a partial repeal? Your argument is faulty and this is a slippery slope.

  • Uh Toby, the packages that float in the Gulf for more than a week should be avoided bro.

  • sorry j, been a heights property owner for a looooonnnnggg time and i just cant take it no mo. we moved here in spring of 2014 and just cant take it no mo. Just Can’t Take It No Mo!

  • Lmao @Neighbor

    The terms you use make it sound like if the dry area was overturned that the entire Heights would certainly explode with alcohol, destroying everything you love and care about.

    Seriously people, how could anyone defend this prohibition in this day and age?

  • well, it is the 21st century and all

  • Much ado about nothing if you ask me. The only thing the Heights dry zone means as a practical matter is that the Kroger at 20th and Yale can’t sell wine and beer, and I suppose this future HEB wouldn’t either. Is that really a big deal for anyone other than the respective business owners? Drinking establishments have the “private club” workaround.

  • Dating back to the 1890 State Constitution, the only way a local community can change it’s wet-dry status is with a 2-step process. 1st a petition signed by the equivalent of 35% of the number of people who voted in the last Governor’s election (2014). If enough signatures are gathered, the governing body (in this case the City of Houston City Council) will be required to order the election.

    The elections can be held in one of 3 jurisdictions. Countywide. Justice of the Peace Precinct. Municipal City Limits. And as the 1937 Texas Supreme Court opinion states, while the City of Houston Heights no longer exists as a city, it still exists for the purpose of a local option alcohol election and an election to undue the 1912 prohibition election must be held in the historic boundaries.

    Today, there are 10 versions of ‘wet’. Voters in Houston Heights are being asked to support version #3. The legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption only. By law this will not allow bars, nightclubs, or package liquor stores to obtain a license under this law.

  • I’d like to confirm H-E-B is even involved. Does any one know? It would be great if it can be limited to them. Since the whole Heights must vote that seems viable.

  • I’m voting no. Nothing against it per se but I like to keep the Heights as dry as possible.

    There are multitude of options to buy liquor–I don’t see the need for more just to make HEB happy.

  • I’m with Greg. My family will vote NO on this. There are plenty of options already and I don’t like the slippery slope this is on. We moved to our area of the Heights because it is dry and want it to stay that way. I feel this would eventually open up Pandora’s box and create workarounds like restaurants use as “private clubs.”

  • The city is already saddled with revenue cap issues, and now it must now cough up the cash to fund a very expensive election in a ten block area? Say bye bye to basic city services folks.

  • This whole wet vs dry brouhaha is a fricking waste of everyone’s time. Just go WET in the ENTIRE Heights. And let the chips fall where they may. I bet HEB is behind the whole “petition” coalition.

  • Bring it on! This area needs a nice grocery store (Kroger on 11th is not the answer – produce/seafood is almost 3rd world).

  • Toby, I know what you mean brother, I started renting in the heights in early 2015, and the neighborhood has changed so much from what I remember it was when I first bought. This is yet another sign of things to come.
    .
    You can count on my yard signs, which will signify to God and Country, that I am against the heights changing.

  • Follow the money. Agree that this effort is a pre-cursor to yet another attempt to revoke the Heights’ dry status, thereby allowing the medical building half a block from us to morph into yet another overpriced grilled-southwestern-rosehipped infused-French-Icelandic private club. Recorded phone calls and door-to-door petitioners don’t come cheap, folks, which means there is big money backing this time. Beyond groceries, consider the gain for distributors, local distillers, and shopping center owners like Weingarten. No doubt the Whole Foods 365 store to be built at Yale & 610 has stirred up the competition as well. In addition to the law firm, one of whose partners has lived in the Heights for maybe 3 years, the firm of Texas Petition Strategies of Austin is engaged, touting itself as ‘the leading expert on local option alcohol campaign in Texas’. We are about to be steam-rolled.

  • Remember when your dilapidated 1000 SF bungalow was worth less than 200k? Remember when there weren’t young affluent people moving in, bringing their new development and money into the neighborhood? Remember when Spanish Flowers was the best restaurant in the neighborhood? Those were the days… How dare anyone try to bring progress and development into a vibrant inner city neighborhood!

  • While the pearl-clutching isn’t surprising, the level of ignorance is. If the reason for the petition were to allow more bars and restaurants and package liquor stores and distillers (really?!), why would they be petitioning ONLY for sales of beer and wine, ONLY for off-premise consumption?
    If you don’t want grocery stores to sell wine, then by all means oppose the local option election. But if you’re against it because you’re worried about more bars and restaurants, or that someone will knock down a 1920’s bungalow to start distilling artisanal vodka (again, really?!?), then I’m afraid you’re ill-informed.

  • I, for one, will not be steam rolled. I am not signing and neither are any of my neighbors. Will someone verify the signatures? The whole thin sounds so shady. Someone needs to check.

  • Read carefully. As proposed, anyone can open a wine or beer shop in their bungalow. There is no restriction to just HEB or just grocer stores. My neighbors houses are not deed restricted. When their property values fall, who will they sell to?

  • Who is the Coalition? Strange.

  • My thoughts are that there will be an explosion of grocery stores in the heights once they can sell alcohol. It doesn’t make sense to build a brand new grocery store if you can’t get the alcohol sales.

    What everyone seems to be missing is that a brand new grocery store will be on an elevated slab and push out all the water onto adjacent properties, flooding them. With Fidelis building a new facility by Dacoma street and the tributary to white oak bayou and new grocery stores popping up all over the heights proper, you are going to be seeing some very desttuctive floods in the future. Up until now, the heights only has one large grocery store which was redeveloped and isn’t elevated to modern commercial standards. You also have a few new major complexes, but an onslaught of new grocery stores combined with upstream development and major development at north post oak is going to do some serious flood damage to the heights.

  • People are really looking for excuses to get up in arms about something. Flooding? Really? There are no tracts of land any grocer could realistically acquire that are not already paved over for commercial spots. Nobody is going to open a liquor store in the middle of a residential section where there will be no traffic- there’s plenty of storefront space near by. The proposed change won’t impact bars and restaurants. Steam rolled? They are advocating for a policy change with respect to a policy that impacts their business? How else would you propose they do it other than hiring a law firm and PR firm to help them navigate the rather obscure laws that govern this thing?

  • Cool. I can walk to Sunny’s and get my mad dog on!

  • @Heights resident: True the heights has only lots that already have concrete available for a grocery store, BUT HEB is not going to keep that nasty concrete already in place, likely put there in 1930-something. They are going to tear it out and elevate the entire property by at least two feet. Water that used to pond on that concrete will now be forced off into adjacent neighborhoods. If you brush this off, you are a fool. At least you have leverage to force concessions. They want to sell liquor – you need their property to detain its own water. Make them add water detention, permeable concrete, etc

  • We will vote NO. Happy with Krogers, Sprouts nearby and Whole Foods 10 min away. Also, we do not want the additional traffic congestion that an HEB or other larger grocer would bring to the surrounding neighborhood. (it would be much more than Fiesta had) If the unintended effect of the Dry zone is that it slows some large commercial developments around the Heights, we’re all for it.

  • Wow, the sky is really falling in the Heights. Could not help but laugh at some of these comments. You don’t want liquor sold in the Heights, fine, don’t sign the petition, but pleassssse, stop trying to poison the minds of those who might with your silly arguments about flooding, and the world coming to an end. What’s more, I saw several comments that said “we” or “my family” won’t vote for it. Glad to see the Lord of the Manor is dictating how those in his family or block will vote.

    I hate to break this to you, but there is already plenty of alcohol in the Heights. So many places where you can BYOB. And, what with all the new townhomes built on every block available to hold more than two, you’re going to have a lot of competition from the younger generation that purchased those.

  • Oh here we go, the “Stop Walmart Heights!” crowd will now migrate to “Stop HEB Heights” ! Hope they take that Fiesta lot and turn it into Alexan Apartments part deux.

    Anyone from HEB reading this? We’ll gladly welcome you at the GOOF. You can build it right on top of that Kroger on 43rd.

  • The large multi-family buildings at Yale & 6th (a block from upcoming Heights Mercantile), Yale & 22nd (a block from the dry Kroger), and 24th & Nicholson (a block from the former Fiesta) are all in the dry area. Granted, they are largely occupied by millenials who typically can’t be bothered to vote, but one thing that could get them to turn out would be to make it easier for them to get their drink on.

  • I was priced out of living in the Heights. After reading some of these comments I’m getting to the point where I’m genuinely glad that I don’t live there. Pull that thing out of your ass..

  • My biggest complaint about this coming to a vote is the massive stupidity that will come with it. Given that there already seem to be people who don’t know the difference between retail sales of alcohol for off-premises consumption vs bars, I can only imagine what will follow.

    Fellow Heights residents: you live in a busy, desirable neighborhood in the center city. That doesn’t mean anything goes, but it does mean people want to live here and people want to open businesses here. This is generally a good thing. If you wanted to live in a neighborhood without businesses and without pesky young people who go out at night, Kingwood might have been a better choice.