H-E-B’s Plan and Backup Plan for the Double Decker Heights Dry Zone Store

Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setbackProposed Heights H-E-B with 25 ft. building setback

The final go-ahead on H-E-B’s planned store on the former N. Shepherd Fiesta spot at W. 24th St. is still purportedly dependent on whether or not the Heights-Dry-Zone-moistening ballot initiative it’s been backing passes tomorrow — but 2 designs for the proposed structure (depicted above) are already queued up on the agenda for November’s first city planning commission meeting next week. A variance request submitted by the company asks for permission to put the proposed 2-story parking-garage-and-store combo just 10 feet back from the property line on the N. Shepherd side of the block (as shown at the top), instead of the 25 feet that would normally be required (as depicted on the 2nd rendering).

What difference would that make? Documentation submitted with the request says that if the parking structure can’t stick out closer to the street, the company will add an extra row of surface parking spaces between the edge of the garage and the curb, which will cut into space otherwise planned for benches and landscaping. From the looks of the included drawings above, the developers will also ditch a planned bike rack, as well as something labeled as an Art Wall — below are the side-view perspectives on the proposed scene, with those 2 rendered ladies in white and blue stuck roughly in the same spot each time as a reference:


 Proposed Heights H-E-B with 10 ft. building setback

Proposed Heights H-E-B with 25 ft. building setback

Like the 2-story replacement store planned in Bellaire, the majority of the ground floor would be parking garage, with the shopping space itself taking up about half of the upper level.

Images: Houston Planning Commission 

Hedging Against Setbacks

34 Comment

  • The Montrose HEB gets a beautiful Lake Flato building and we get this hunk of concrete? This design is reason enough to vote to keep the Heights dry.

  • @HieghtsDR

    As opposed to the abandoned shell of Fiesta?

  • Parking is a curse. It will continue to be a curse as long as people in Houston keep wanting to drive everywhere they go. If you’re living in a cursed land, you have to expect it to look the part.

    Want beauty and green space and big setbacks? Install only a bike rack and a bus stop and a big sidewalk and maybe a few handicap/delivery/dropoff spots and skip the general parking. Otherwise, it’s going to look like land dedicated primarily to being pleasant for the needs of cars, not people, which is exactly what it is.

  • Wow. That is really ugly. Glad I don’t live anywhere near it!

  • @HeightsDR I knew the Heights always secretly compare themselves to Montrose ;)

  • If HEB conducted a survey in the Heights to find out everything people in the neighborhood did not want in the design for the proposed store at W 23, this would be the result. It looks to pretty much be a clone of the Bellaire store but adjusted for a rectangular lot with more emphasis on the parking garage-ieness of the design.

  • HEB promised you a new store in exchange for rescinding the dry zone – but they didn’t promise you a purty one.

  • My guess is if they publicized these plans before the election it would guarantee a loss. Yuck.

  • Wow, this country is so rich we have “food allergies” and complain about the look of the place we buy food. I love the USA but you folks make us look like jackasses.

  • I just voted at Helms Elementary (voting location 0075) and none of the machines had Proposition 1 listed on the ballot. Everyone was complaining and then leaving without being able to vote for/against it. The poll judge and alternate were outside calling the issue in and seemed pretty frustrated. Anyone know the proper place to report this?

  • Sid, have you ever wondered why no one has tried your idea of commerce in this city? The store would last about a week before it became obvious that economics overrules nostalgia.

  • The HEB Houston president said on a podcast last week that they would seek neighborhood input as to the final look and feel of the store. It makes sense that they already have basic plans in place, to meet their timeline for opening the store. I’m sure there is a fair amount of flexibility in which specific finishes they could ultimately choose as well as landscaping and other “character” things like art installations.

  • where’s the rendering showing all those undesirables loitering with their 40’s?

  • Parking will be a curse as long as Houston has ridiculous codified parking requirements.

  • Hi Chris — you might try the County Clerk’s Election Division office. Here’s a link to contact info: http://www.harrisvotes.com/OutReach/ContactUs.aspx

  • @Chris — your street is one block outside the former dry area, so you’re not eligible to vote on this issue. Map here:

  • Does anyone really think that HEB wont go here if they cant sell alcohol?

  • LOL @ RacistHeightsGuy. You just made my morning.

  • Bring it on! Can’t wait

  • Googlemaster,

    Actually I am in the original Houston Heights, if you check your map again you will see that houses on one side of the street are in the zone while those across the street are not.

    And as an update: I went back and spoke to the Poll Judge, Linda Smith, and she said that it was her fault because her staff was not putting in the correct code to pull up the right ballot. She apologized but said there was nothing that could be done about it now. Sooo, the first hundr d or do people this morning we’re not able to cast their ballot for or against Prop 1.

    Scot Mcclelland or HEB: I hope you read this and demand a re-vote.

  • Chris, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to the poll judge and have her fix the issue. Either way, it’s important that people be able to cast a ballot.

  • Chris,
    They’ll only need a recount if they lose which seems unlikely.

  • Looks like there will be a used car lot of sorts on Shepherd anyway, hahaha.

  • come on folks, realy??? Clearly this is just a google sketch up model, nothing final….nowhere near final. Calm down, relax, and get your panties out of a wad. Designs like this take time, but I guess you need something to bit*h about….

  • @Barks Yeah, I know businesses need parking as long as their customers won’t come without it. Not denying reality as it is. But dreaming of other ways it could be is the first step to moving in that direction. (In Houston, we have the additional problem of high mandatory minimum spots, as others have pointed out. I’d rather have mandatory *maximum* allowable parking, but I know I’m outvoted on that, here and now at least. If the issue is aesthetics though, it would definitely be prettier.)

  • @Barks BTW, I do usually avoid stores with no bike parking or unfriendly pedestrian/bike access, so I see the other side of that same coin. Stores need to cater to their customers; it’s customer demand that’s ultimately at fault for hideous parking lots and runoff and heat islands and sprawl and all the rest. But one way to drive demand is creating feedback loops, and one way to start that is stores building less parking.

  • I voted YES today and could care less if they have a 4 story parking garage with concrete everywhere—i just want a decent place to buy food and booze so i can get liquored up on the weekends.

  • So…what would be lost if they had to live with the setback? A row of benches for weary shoppers placed at the edge of 4 lanes of traffic passing by at 45 mph? Make them put more surface parking in. Didn’t Whole Foods just pave over their quaint picnic grounds on Waugh?

  • That’s a beautiful concrete block building, totally keeping with the 1920s character of the Heights. Thank you, HEB. It will be a pleasure to shop within.

  • Passed!

    Let’s drink!! Let’s build!! Let the alcohol flow through the neighborhood. Thanks voters!
    – Beer drinker

  • Barks “Sid, have you ever wondered why no one has tried your idea of commerce in this city? ”
    Yeah, the city MAKES you put in a ton of parking. They don’t leave it to a business owner. If a business owner wants to put limited parking and more green space, let them deal with ‘going out of business’. If that’s what happens, then that’s on them. But why not leave that decision to the owner?

  • Chris Zvolensky: “I just voted at Helms Elementary (voting location 0075) and none of the machines had Proposition 1 listed on the ballot. … Anyone know the proper place to report this?”
    Hm, maybe the place is the comment section of swamplot on a story about HEB? :) (jk man)

  • I’d like to congradulate Heights residents on throwing off the shackles of an antiquated and backward blue law and becoming just a little bit more quirky and delightfully weird today…like the rest of us. You’re not as much of a unique little snowflake, okay, yeah, but you’re better for it. Drink responsibly my friends.

  • I think judging the overall design of this building by one working Sketchup rendering of the corner of the parking structure may be a little shortsighted and premature… Considering this will probably be one of HEB’s most popular and profitable stores in their entire fleet, I quote Aaron Rodgers by saying to all the haters: “RELAX.”