Making Way for the Heights Blvd. Strips

Here’s what’s left of the Heights Plaza Apartments on Heights Blvd. south of I-10, which were standing in the way of a couple of those new Washington Heights District strip-center companions to the West End Walmart. “The structures came down in the blink of an eye last week,” comments the photographer, “but as you can see, it will take a while for the dust to settle. How metaphorical!”


Photos: Swamplot inbox

42 Comment

  • One of the prevalent arguments for this Wal-mart was how it would serve lower-income area residents and yet lower-income apartments are razed, apparently because of it. Yes, peoperty belongs to the owner who can force tenants to move at any time – just reflecting on the irony.

  • And the primary argument against the Walmart opposition is that they are racist elitists. But Walmart wouldn’t come to town until the West End gentrified, and its developer sent a couple of bus loads of low income residents packing. Kettle, meet pot.

    Walmart or not, it is sad to see all this prime real estate get turned into a strip mall. It could have been something so, so much better.

  • If Old School was willing to pony up the money, s/he could have made sure it was something much better. If RUDH is so opposed to the project, BUY WALMART OUT. That way they can do whatever the hell they want and dedicate a special place to hold their “we hate Walmart” circle jerk parties.

  • Good news!

  • This is the most unfortunate part of this development. Slowly but surely all of the lower income housing in the neighborhood is disappearing. Of course the Walmart opponents had already told us that there weren’t any low income people in the Heights so I’m somewhat surprised to find out they even knew this apartment block existed.

  • My only question is when are they going to start building? Maybe then the Target on Sawyer won’t be so awful and crowded all the time. Another big discount store is definitely needed in this area if you actually live around here and shop Target/Walmart you would know this. I still don’t understand all the Walmart hate.

  • Speaking of, how about that story from the Ohio Wal-mart in which the 71-year-old greeter got socked by a woman because he asked for her receipt? And her daughter threatened to blow up the store and said her boyfriend would come back and kill the greeter? Honestly curious since I’ll never go to Wal-Mart: do these things happen more often there or are they reported more BECAUSE they happen there?

  • what matters most is the inner loop just got more jobs and empty space will now be providing a lot of revenue. congrats to everyone.

  • A little off topic, but to respond to the question in the linked blog post, the demolition contractor pays for the water. They apply for a permit from the City and then use hydrant water meters, the orange devices connected between the hoses and the hydrants. Then they pay for the amount they use. Not as much fun as a conspiracy I know.

  • Not sure whether it is the timing of the traffic lights or the way in which the left hand southbound lane suddenly turns into a left turn only lane – but now that the ‘new and improved’ intersection at Studewood and the I-10 feeder roads is completed, it takes a couple of cycles of the light to get through the intersection during the morning rush hour. Seems like the only beneficiary of this construction is Target. I am definitely not impressed.
    It will probably be a similar situation at Yale once the feeder roads are extended there. Great for WallyWorld, not so good for neighborhood residents trying to get to work.

  • oh man, so just to confirm, the intersection at studewood/I10 is completed and we can exit at studewood off I10 now?

    i see they removed the closure off the transtar map, but i don’t drive that way right now and wasn’t expecting completion for another month.

  • Jason: Sorry for questioning the plutocracy that is real estate development. You have set me straight. All hail the great Ainbinder for blowing off plans for a mixed used development in favor of a slap dash suburban strip mall with a big box anchor that everyone hates. How dare the people who will have to deal with the traffic and flooding question the great Ainbinder. Only people with big wads of cash matter. Everyone else is just an insignificant surf and should bow at the feet of great men like Ainbinder who had the vision of putting a suburban Walmart and a bunch of retail pads on a great plot of land that could have been something that would have really been a benefit to the neighborhood instead of a huge burden.

  • In perusing the RUDH website, I noticed a thoughtful suggestion for a “better use” of the site. Ironically, the proposal included demolition of these very same apartments to make way for retail development. It doesn’t appear that anyone was that concerned about the apartments or its tenants…until, of course, Ainbinder knocked them down.

    I do not spend much time with the folks at RUDH, but I do encourage them to make lemonade of these lemons. Legally and constitutionally, we cannot stop a Walmart from being built. However, concessions can be extracted as far as street and drainage improvements and lightin, landscaping and other aesthetics. I hope that efforts are being made in this area, and I wish you all the best in that regard.

  • So, Walmart is not scheduled to arrive for a couple of years I believe. Does this teardown mean that parts of this retail centre are going up right now or is this just a land clear that will sit vacant for the foreseeable future?

  • Welcome to Houston friggin’ Texas. We tear shit down and build bigger shit in it’s place. We have consistently rejected zoning because we want to be able to do with our land as we please. If you don’t want an old house torn down, buy the property. If you don’t want a high rise built next door, buy the property. If you don’t want a Walmart inside the Loop, buy the property. It’s a simple concept, really.

  • oops. Typos.

  • I think what people have noticed is the irony, as I mentioned. People at Heights Plaza went to work, came home, ate dinner, went to bed, had cookouts on the weekend…not much to really be concerned about. I don’t remember any reports of kids getting electrocuted or SWAT hole-ups. Just a lower-priced complex that is no more due to a development some felt was designed to appeal to their demographic.

  • I think they should have kept the apartments as a facade to keep with the original look of the block, and added the walmart off the back of it in a giant camelback design, this way it would be appropriate and everyone would be happy.

  • Old School could have recreated Peppermint Park on this site for all the savant children who live in The Heights.

    If you don’t know what Peppermint Park is move back to Yankee land.

  • Those apartments were a sh*thole and an eyesore. Home to some folks, sure, but they’ll find somewhere else to call home and park their cars in the bike lane 24 hours a day.

    At the tail end of Q1 2011 and we already have a runaway winner for teardown of the year.

  • Craig, I’d vote for Kiddie Wonderland, but most kids I see around would collapse before they got one of the little hand-cranked cars halfway up the track. :)

  • Well, if the speed of the build out of the Silber Wal-Mart is any indication, the Heights location should be ready to put mama y papa tiendas out of business by the end of May.

  • As a nearby resident – hooray – not that the old apartments are gone, but that I now have more retail within walking distance. Here’s to hoping it’s not a cell phone store, nail salon, and a Subway.

  • @jb3 – you forgot a mattress store and Sally Beauty Supply. Wedged in between will be that “chef-driven” restaurant they kept talking about at the public meetings.

  • Oh boo hoo low income housing is bulldozed in the greater Heights area to accomodate a Wal-Mart
    Oh boo hoo everyone wants Skylane Heights bulldozed because it is so trashy and rundown. Uh duh….it is low income housing.
    Ya just can’t have it both ways folks.

  • Now the low-income people will have to drive in! I think the sheer thrill of swarming Washington Ave. with low-income Wal-Mart shoppers will make the apologists’ heads explode with glee. That might be the only upside to all of this.

  • Being low income is worse than leprosy, a blight on America and something that needs to be confined to designated areas, preferably with tall walls, until those lands are desired by the monied class.
    Marvin was right. And if you don’t know what that refers to, your company just transfered you here and you are thrilled to have bought that enormous faux Tuscan for under a mil.

    This is the future. When all middle class jobs have been eliminated and/or off-shored, there will only be the rich and those who serve them.
    Pass me the cuticle nippers.

  • To Old School:

    Sincere question – What would you rather see this land used for and who would fund it?

  • Wow; Sounds like the Heights Wal-Mart will be mostly empty, given that “higher income” residents don’t need it (and will boycott it, I assume) and according to some on this thread, the area “low-income” folks have essentially been wiped off the map with the demo of these apartments.

    WalMart must be dumb.

    Think I’ll stop by, anyway, when they open – just to verify their “stupidity”.

  • The problem with the Stude-I10 intersection is the alignment between the free overpass piers and the bike path bridge piers. The way they align the two lanes of Stude at the bike path bridge have to become the LH two lanes of Stude as it passes under the freeway. Short of doing away with the left turn lane onto the feeder the only solution would be to rebuild the bike path bridge and space the piers further apart.

  • Walmart ought to make a list of names of all these people who are bitching and moaning and fighting them tooth and nail. A year after the store opens, they can compare that list to a list derived from credit card purchase information and see how many of those folks have been shopping at the store. The list of hipocrites should be posted publicly on Swamplot.

    They hate Walmart, but you know they will shop there.

  • I think we need to make “I <3 Heights Walmart" bumper stickers and start pasting them over a certain other bumper sticker I see often. I doubt anyone would notice.

  • An honest question: what is at Wal-Mart that is not available at smaller less-crowded stores?

  • It’s always funny to see WalMart lovers claim that a new store will bring millions in “new” revenue to the city’s coffers so we should feel blessed to have them. Where do they get this nonsense from? WalMart talking points 101?

    New people with new money to spend are not going to suddenly appear to shop at this new WalMart. Existing people with existing money that they were already spending at other stores (probably several other stores) will simply be spending it at one store instead. This isn’t new or increased tax revenue, it’s the same tax revenue funneled through one company instead of several.

    Moreover, if the fantasy that WalMart offers lower prices on “everything” is to be believed; then it stands to reason that the city will see LOWER tax revenue as a result of this store opening – since its shoppers should be spending less. Right?

  • I love that one person points out the irony that walmart ran off the low-income customers allegedly begging for fresh organic produce, and suddenly everyone who hates skylane (me included) is a hypocrite. And, somehow one person’s suggestion on the RUDH website becomes their mission statement. Apparently nuance is not a strong point for some of our posters. I’ll play. If you like walmart, you hate women, support the extinction of small businesses and choose Chinese over local. How can you sleep at night?

  • Nuance schmooance. Show me a “low income” apartment complex that someone says is charming and an asset to their neighborhood and is filled with the salt of the Earth.

  • Will Heights House do?

  • Back in the day, I would guess that everyone screamed bloody murder about a 10 story government housing project at the end of Heights Blvd. Maybe you have some salt of the Earth living there but
    it is a 3 on a scale of 10 in the charm department.

  • Huey Long was certainly charming and I will always miss him. All of the residents I’ve ever encountered from there on First Saturday or watching the sights on White Linen Night have been a delight to visit with. If the facility was too attractive, someone would no doubt be complaining about asthetics being a waste of money for Section 8 housing. The climate being what it is here, we don’t have much in the way of ice floes to put the elderly and disabled on, so places like Heights House should seem an acceptable compromise.

  • Amen to that. Age diversity is a very good thing, and I worry what those folks will do if the Kroger closes.

  • Finness, I am sure walmart will shuttle them in. In addition to everything else the city promised Walmart, I am sure they pimped out our seniors to work as greeters. So, if you are opposed to walmart, you hate old people! For shame!

  • Developers rule in Houston. No zoning and a city gov’t that salivates on their knees to kiss their rings. The whole development will be crap – we’ve all seen what business open next to Wally-World We know who A$$-Bender got into bed with.