Heights Village: It Was All Just a Good Old Fashioned Dream

Here’s something we can all feel tingly and nostalgic about: Developer Bobby Orr’s Heights-ish fantasy — of brand-new old-timey storefronts facing long streetside parking lots off Yale St. and Heights Blvd. just south of I-10 — is dead. The Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff drops news of the demise of the Heights Village dream as an aside to her update on the stalled-out High Street development.

The entire 4.9-acre property, across Heights Blvd. from the ArtCar Museum, is back on the market, at $75 a square foot.

Sadly, Cushman & Wakefield’s listing for the property doesn’t include any misty watercolors to memorialize what might have been. But Swamplot remembers! Here’s a brief trip down invented-memory lane . . . in 3 quick images:


Images: Orr Commercial

20 Comment

  • Gus — is there any good news out there??

  • Look on the bright side, we are not Detroit (and Southampton is THE VERY BESTEST neighborhood ever!).

  • Carol, this IS great news! Why do we need more retail in this area anyway? There are other things that the Lower Heights Washington area needs more than a bunch of boutiquey shops and yuppie eateries. Maybe something like a company with good jobs or a park or maybe something really interesting for Houston, a retail residential mix like they have in 98% of the rest of the world.

  • Am I totally out of touch with reality or is $75/sq ft really expensive?

  • Why can’t anyone figure out that what we really need is a grocery store. With all the new townhomes, condos, and other Target development, alot of foot traffic is being generated. I live in old Sixth and am tired of driving to W.Gray Krogers or 11th Krogers. An HEB would be nice, not Whole Foods- help I am feeding my teen son and a growing girl, not too mention the dogs and cats. Hey, Orr developers, listen to what people need and you might be successful in your venture.

  • I’m with you Monica. A GOOD grocery store. Perhaps a Whole Foods (is that still going up on Dallas St.?) or a GOOD HEB (not like the one they had on 11th St).

  • Why can’t the parking be put in the rear of buildings and make these strip centers look more inviting from the front?

  • But yeah… give the Heights a grocery store before more shopping.

  • Whole Paycheck, er Whole Foods is in deep d** d** right now. There was a pretty rough WSJ article about them a few months back which essentially said that they were very low on cash. As far as I know their development pipeline is CLOSED until 2010, with their architects closing up shop for the duration. They are being sued by a Seattle developer for walking on a 60,000 sq. ft. lease 3 days before turnover. Amount of lawsuit? $68M. I don’t want to use the B word with Whole Foods, as they recently had a large cash infusion from a private equity group, but I’m guessing things will be thin for a few years. Here’s the link for those with WSJ access:


  • One more thing, the Whole Foods on Dallas is still moving forward (albeit in a smaller footprint than previously planned) according to folks that I know who are involved with the project.

  • “…not like the one they had on 11th st…”
    are you out of yer cotton-pickin’ mind? ;-) that was THE BEST grocery store ever! it was the perfect size; you didn’t have to spend hours finding what you needed; it had friendly staff; annnd, best of all, after a long day at work, it had free coffee for customers. agreed, it did not carry gourmet products [but, hey, go to spec’s!], however, the manager would order items that you requested. i was very very VERY sorry to see HEB close up shop.

  • The HEB on 11th street was not well maintained. All the refrigerators and vegetable coolers were rusted and made it seem unsanitary (whether it was or not). It seemed dark and dingy. I actually like small grocery stores and do not require gourmet products, but I do appreciate a nice bakery and meat department with the basics.

  • The “past is the past”, but I did also like the HEB, mainly for size and convenience. Small, not gourmet, and “Dolce Gabana” wannabe prices don’t mix well in such a diverse area as Heights, Sixth Ward, First Ward, White Oak, and lower/near Montrose. I like gourmet and organic products also, but in moderation- you know teacher’s salary and a teen in College. Although, my husband & I don’t hurt economically now, you never know. Anyhow, old HEB needed some TLC, but a nice, new one would sure be cool in a very diverse group of people, who are overall looking at the “Economic Bottomline.” Better, to not starve with meat and potatoes, then have to beg for pennies for your Caviar. Hoping, the Whole Foods wouldn’t go through, but an HEB instead. Perhaps, they may consider the populations needs and scale back prices or carry regular foods for the meat & potatoes folks, and a great Filet Mignon at a good price.

  • The Fiesta on Shepherd and 23rd is a fantastic store. All the whole foods stuff you need plus all the regular and exotic fiesta stuff. They have changed with the neighborhood over the years to encompass all demographics. Been there for years

  • there is a fiesta on the corner of patton and fulton that was once owned by rice food markets. fiesta maintains the store much better than rice ever did, h-o-w-e-v-e-r it is just not a “good fiesta.” can someone please explain why some fiestas have better quality produce, wider variety of herbs, baking supplies, flippin’ artichokes, fuzzy water, sorbet, etc… at one time, we were hoping that the fiesta store manager would positively respond to the “market drill-down study” and the hard work of the planning/ community/ architecture committee that created & designed a vision for future development. alas and alack, ’twas not to be…
    if anyone has any pull with HEB or a big wig at fiesta, please convey the desire of the surrounding neighborhoods to have a CLEAN, CHEERFUL, SAFE store that carries basic gourmet products, a bakery, a decent pedestrian coffee bar, quality deli, etc. although i shop there for dry goods, some fruits, and some vegetables, i will NOT buy meat there and worry about all the residue from mexican pesticide practices. many people from the near-northside and brooke smith, who have to leave the hood as many heights people have to do, would love to be able to have the site as an epicenter for shopping in lieu of driving all over creation to get to a decent grocery store. please forgive any grammatical mistakes holidays have been exhausting… cheers.

  • Hey ya’ll… is there anywhere on the interwebs that is tracking all the shelved Houston developments… something on HAIF perhaps? I’m thinking of projects like this or the Titan or Sonoma… anyone?


  • Smallish store, good prices, some gourmet products but not overwhelmed with them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what Houston needs is Trader Joes.

    Also just back from SoCal where i noticed a plethora of new “Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets” that would probably fit that description also. This is Tesco’s big new push into the US so we may see it spread East if it takes off there.

  • I don’t understand this quote, “i will NOT buy meat there and worry about all the residue from mexican pesticide practices.”

    Does Fiesta import its meat from Mexico?

  • “pesticide practices” has to do with the fact that the majority of PRODUCE is imported from mexico…

    “not buy meat” has to do with LOW GRADE meat AND the fact that fiesta does not have its OWN meat inspectors at the slaughter houses as does randalls, krogers, heb, et.al. (a common practice that is in place because there are not enough FEDERAL inspectors–so reported to me by a butcher aquaintance…) i do not know from where fiesta obtains its meat. i just assumed it was typical american beef. if someone knows differently about meat or produce practices, please share! cheers.

  • re. Trader Joe’s:
    I too love there stores. I shop there while visiting my son in California.
    I called their main office and was told their next expansion will be Chicago & the Midwest.
    Texas is not in their plans for the near future.