New Yale St. Strip Center Gets Jump on Washington Heights Walmart and Friends

The tilt walls are already up! Those of you who’ve been eagerly awaiting the strip-center-themed revival of Yale and Heights Blvd. south of I-10: here are your signs of progress, snapped just yesterday by a Swamplot reader. No, this isn’t the new Walmart — or the Washington Heights District strip centers promised to go with them. It’s Orr Commercial‘s Heights Marketplace, a separate development facing Yale St. at Koehler — and the Walmart site across the street — beating everyone to the punch. Opening dates for Lovett Dental, Wahoo Fish Tacos, the Loan Depot, and more: next March.


Photos: Swamplot inbox

45 Comment

  • Strip centers aren’t complete without tattoo parlors and title loan stores.

  • Some pretty boring and generic stuff :(

  • Loan Depot? Not interested in that or anything nearby–that’s worse than the wal mart.

  • @Cody: Would you like to buy it? I can draw up a contract, pretend likea negotiation is occuring, and see what happens…

  • What, no Payless Shoes?

  • #5….that’ll be coming for sure….

  • I wish everyone would just stop being such snobs. At least Orr is creating jobs and helping the local economy. Granted it might not have all the places you want to shop but it will be busy with somebody from the Heights shopping there!!!

  • A nice fat, Fiesta will plop itself into the mix, too. And maybe a few used car dealerships — next to the used funiture stores. Gotta love that urban blight!

  • @ acolvin isnt the majority of The Heights already made up of that anyway ?

  • Shapiro: lol
    Robin: totally agree

  • acolvin: Nope, used car lots are driven out by gentrification; Washington Avenue used to be lined with them. Sellers of used furniture can’t afford modern strip centers, either; even if they sell “midcentury” they need cheaper, funkier spaces.

    Doesn’t WalMart sell food? Why would Fiesta–competition–move in? Besides, Fiestas need more space.

    Besides, what’s wrong with Fiesta? It’s a pretty good local chain with stores to fit various neighborhoods. The little one on Studewood is really handy for the neighborhood.

    Oh, “Fiesta” is a Spanish word, therefore it means “urban blight.” I get it. Shouldn’t you be happy that the apartments torn down to make room for the new stuff had mostly Hispanic tenants?

  • Don’t like Fiesta = racist
    Now that’s a leap. Pretty sad Maggie

  • Are those real names? Wahoo fish tacos????

    Oh, and you forgot the nail salon…

  • I’m not sad at all–enjoyed the rain we got this week.

    Isn’t “xenophobic” a better fit than “racist”?

  • Maggie: Not really. Playing that card is old and tired. Unless you have proof (beyond his innocuous post)
    and yeeah! to rain finally.

  • So, this thing was originally billed to be a high-end development with restaurants and rooftop bars/clubs with a stunning city view. But it is now just a typical planned development tag-a-long strip center. Sure, the market crashed, blah, blah. But the developer has also been out crowing about how they have been getting great leasing rates. The free market is supposed to put land to its best and highest use. Unfortunately, that best and highest use is nothing more than biggest and fastest buck for the developer. It is a shame that with so much great redevelopment going on in the Heights and along Washington that the area just south of I-10 is going to be yet another rote strip center development. Whahoo.

  • To Robin #7 – I don’t want the Loan Depot either but not because I’m a snob. Those are predatory places that take advantage of those most in need of help and the less educated do not understand the enormous rates these places charge. It’s legal loan sharking and I don’t like them around. We already have one on the corner of Yale and Washington and I hope they all go out of business one day. As for the Orr group, glad you are creating jobs but your stores are yawners.

  • @swamplot, the first I heard of this development was the original Swamplot post based on the developers original announcement. At that point in time it was going to exactly the same as it is now. If you have some earlier promotional material including all the marvellous things you describe I’m sure we would all love to see it. Maybe you are thinking of the Ainbinder development that will also be going in between Yale and Heights?

  • Sorry, that should have been @oldschool

  • Happy: the rates are what they are due to the risk involved in getting paid back. Interest rates tend to mirror the risk involved.
    If cheaper rates could be charge and still serve as a viable business model someone would charge less and steel all this “unfair” business.
    And your high and mighty “I know what’s best for everyone” leaves out the fact these places, while sleazy, provide a service that helps people. Thank God I’m not in a position to need such a loan but for the people that do need the loan, what alternate do you suggest? A lot of times the loan may be the difference between getting evicted or
    having a car repossessed.
    Leave people be to enter into agreements for goods and services that want or need.

  • Am I the only one who thinks this is spot is a no-brainer for Spec’s? Especially since they got run off from Washington @ Westcott. Between the Heights and Rice Military, seems like pretty good demographics for a decent liquor/wine store, and very little competition nearby. (Unless they feel like it would cannibalize Smith St.)

  • Orr just put a big Spec’s into one of his centers on the Gulf Freeway, brought life into a newer center that appeared to be in trouble.

  • To all who have been commenting on our development. Let me address a few issues:

    1. Yes, we are developers for profit. I’m sorry we could not afford to build a park
    2. At one time we tried to develop a “mixed use” project, but the market tanked and all the luxury retailers headed for the hills.
    3. We are residents of the City and do care what happens at our projects.
    4. We did not ask the city for any tax incentives (tax payer money) to develop our project
    5. No, we are not a “build and sell” type of developer, we keep what we build for the long term
    5. We tried for many many months to get Specs Liquors to sign a lease, but they “would not” agree to our terms
    6. I have signed a lease with a local liquor retailer, he will have a great selection of wines (over 700 labels) as well as a humidor for the cigar smoker. (The store will be a nice high end boutique liquor store, not a package store with burgular bars in the windows.)
    7. We have also signed a lease with Tutti Frutti yogurt and a dry cleaner.
    8. We have owned this property for over 4 years and are very happy that we have been able to start construction on the retail track.
    9. We own projects all over the city and pride ourselves on knowing our tenants and keeping a good relationship with our neighbors
    10. We intend to be good neighbors and hope the neighborhood will treat us the same.

    Joan Collum
    Orr Commercial.

  • Good to hear about the liquor store.
    Between this development and Ainbinder’s, the West End will certainly have its sandwich, taco and haircut needs well met.

  • @Joan: Excellent response.

    Sure is easy to make suggestions about and hate on a CRE development when it isn’t your money and/or lease-up responsibility. I suspect that people who say “why didn’t you put XYZ in there?!” have never leased a SF of space in their life.

  • @ Joan & @ Ryan. Tell ’em off. The haters on here all have great ideas but NO money or where withall to implement their ideas. And ,judt guessing here, some or quite a few of the haters on Swamplot DO NOT OWN any property at all and have NO idea how difficult it is to do so. They have a myopic view of the way they want things NOT the way thighs REALLY are !!! They need to shup up and quit spewing drivel and making themselves look stooopid !!!

  • The hidden jewel of Patrick’s late-night/early morning, drunken(?) swamplot posting spree:

    …the way THIGHS really are…

  • Wahoo’s fish tacos is a chain located mainly in Southern California. They serve simple food – grilled fish, meat, veggies, black beans, rice – fresh and reasonably healthy compared to some of the alternatives. There’s been one in Austin for several years and one in The Woodlands for about a year. The original Wahoo’s are located in funky old shacks in beach communities like Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach. Lots of surfing and snowboarding decor. Now they seem to be going for the bland strip mall approach, which is sad. Wahoo’s in a converted shack on Washington would have been cool compared to a strip mall next to Wal Mart. But I’ll still go there.

  • It’s pretty elementary people. If you don’t like something, stay away from it.

  • The non-Heights Heights Marketplace seems to be nearing completion. I cannot wait to not shop in the Heights at the Heights Marketplace.

  • @Oldschool…do you do anything but monitor Swamplot to complain about every development in the city? Seriously, that is all I ever read from you. Jimbo is correct. That developent wasn’t billed as anything like “a high-end development with restaurants and rooftop bars/clubs with a stunning city view”, unless you saw something those involved in the development community didn’t see. While we would all love some fabulous boutique style retail, the fact is that the only retailers that can afford the $$$ of new construction sites are chains, and in particular things like a loan shop. Wahool Tacos, while a chain is a pretty good one. I really enjoyed them when I lived in Redondo Beach. The one in Manhattan Beach is cute (and beachy) with a fun atmosphere and reasonably priced good food. So, instead of complaining, get over it and stop in for a taco and a Corona!

  • @RHP:

    If you are going to launch a childish “you hate everything” rant, you should at least take a minute to use google and get your facts straight. The Orr development went through three incarnations. The second version was the one with roof top bars and views of downtown as part of their marketing. That is what I was talking about in the above post which was 100% accurate. And Whahoo tacos is out of the Orr development. Smash burger is taking their spot.

    Also, the “you just hate everything” rant is false. I have been very clear and consistent about what I want to see in development in Houston. I am inline with a large portion of the development community that is in favor of new urbanism. I even had some positive things to say about ExxonMobil’s massive development in Spring (not the clear cutting of a forrest, but the opportunity to get sprawled residents closer to work).
    This city has diminishing numbers of great opportunities to do big forward looking redevelopment. The Heights/Yale area was a big opportunity lost. The developers went for the quick bucks and left the community to deal with the externalities and lost opportunity for something great. Even when they back off of grand plans and do strip malls, developers still make big bucks. They are big boys and girls and are not immune from criticism from the community just because they take a risk on real estate. And the only way developers will snap out of strip malls, townhomes and apartment boxes is if the community comes together and demands something better.

  • @OldSchool. Regarding the current development in the Yale/Washington area you mention
    the community will have to deal with “externalities” and the development is a “lost opportunity for something great” What are the externalities you refer to and how would they be mitigated if the development met your “something great” criteria?

    Also, if the “community comes together and demands something better” what would compel a developer to build that “something better”? The townhomes sell and the apartment boxes are occupied.

  • @oldschool, sorry for the characterization but mainly I read your stuff on inner city redevelopment and you are usually complaining about it. And you sound like you long for days gone by and sadly, mostly they are just that…days gone by. If I’m wrong about your comments, then sincere apologies. However, you are delusional if you think big developers respond because the community comes together and demands better. Better in whose estimation? Yours? People who think lke you? Developers respond to the money. Pure and simple. They build or develop to make money. And unless it is illegal or really distasteful, they don’t regulate the people who are going to make them money. So the only way to REALLY influence developers is to not patron businesses that go in their developments or not to purchase their residential developments. And the truth in residential is unless it is hideous, horribly overpriced, or over-saturation…if you build it, they will come. And too bad about Wahoo but whatever.
    As far as my calling you out a “rant”…if you call that a rant, then you are very thin skinned. If I really was on a rant, I would have posted chapter, line and verse to illustrate my point about your postings. You do complain A LOT on this forum and I don’t think anyone who reads your posts every day would argue with that. You whine and complain so much so that it is noticeable whereas many of the participants who seem to be here every day contribute other information or perspectives. The truth hurts sometimes dude!

  • I want to know what the Heights Blvd side will look like. Is it parking, other store fronts, or dumpsters?

  • Loan Depot. Just what the community needs. I’ll keep driving with the doors locked.

  • What happened to Wahoos fish tacos in this development did they just left or was not working out for them and just gave it up?

  • Just jumped on and cannot believe that after 5 months, there are still some that are moaning and groaning. While some might hate what we do as developers, look around the area, it is getting cleaned up with new roads, nice greenspaces on Heights Blvd and a good amount of new retail that i am sure will be frequented by most. While i would agree, some of the chains are a bit “unexciting” it is true, we took a chance and purchased this land over 4 years ago, we are going to make a profit and are very proud of what we have built in this area. AS the saying goes, you can’t please everyone, all the time, let me just say, moving forward in the next 6 months, you will hardly remember that this area was populated by abandonded buildign and a vacant lot that used to be the home of Trunity Industries. Our tenant line up as of today is: Lovett Dental, Loan Depot, Great Clips, Premier Fine Wines and Cigars, Batteries Plus, The Joint, T- Mobile, Jimmy Johns, Aqua Cleaners and Smash Burger. Surely some of the Heights residents use the dry cleaners, might need a special battery for your expensive camera, probably talk on a cell phone and every once and a while, eat a hamburger. Oh and by the way, don’t forget Chase Bank, Taco Cabana, Starbuck’s and Verizon that will be across the street. Make sure you don’t blow through the new stop light at Yale and Koehler, as I would hate for you to get a ticket.

    My advise, if you don’t like what we do, then put your money on the line, borrow additional millions to build a park and hope you can make your payment at the bank.

    Enough said.

  • Joan, your whole post is so rude and poorly typed I have to wonder is it was really made by a hater of your development, trolling for negative comments.

    “Make sure you don’t blow through the new stop light at Yale and Koehler, as I would hate for you to get a ticket.”

    I hate when your contractors get tickets for crossing the severely load limited Yale Street Bridge. Not because I don’t think they deserve it, but because they have compromised our infrastructure.

  • @Joan, leasing agent for the Orr strip mall. Guess what, genius? Orr would still make money if they actually built a decent development that became a destination and amenity to the neighborhood. But, hell no, a cheap-ass strip mall is fast/cheap/easy. So, congrats on your exceptional vision for the sustainable future of Houston that can only project out six months. And, head’s up, treating area residents with this level of disrespect isn’t going to help increase your retail traffic, is it?

  • I have to agree with comment 39, Joan’s comment has to have been written by a troll. Surely no sane business person would communicate with its potential customers this way. If Joan’s message is actually written by the developer, what is going through her head? I wonder whether the named tenants are aware their landlord is actively working against them, sabotaging their new businesses?

  • Hmmmm. A bit of a mystery. The first post is from “Joan” and the potential troll post is from “Joan Collum”. That would be a dead giveaway unless the real Joan Collum forgot her password and had to create a new ID. But, the potential troll names tenants who are not on the company’s website for the development (“The Joint” and “premier” liquor and cigs). That suggests inside info only known to the real Joan. Tough call. I am leaning to internet troll. The gramar and spelling are so lousy that it has to be a troll attempt.

  • I did not write the email on April 10th.

  • What say you, Gus???