The Rice Village Plans To Remake Amherst St., Lure Shoppers Into an Alley

Remodeling along the lines of what’s depicted here is now underway on Amherst St. between Kelvin St. and Kirby Dr., according to a Rice Village District rep. A couple of newly released drawings shown here fill in details to some of the previously mentioned changes planned for the south side of Amherst, including the conversion of part of the roadway itself into more walking and sitting room behind some protective planters. And that narrow passageway in the building, running between Amherst and University Blvd., appears to be getting its own signage labeling it as The Alley (complete with light-up arrow directing shoppers inside).

The plans also call for some rooftop greenery and the chopping off of some pointy brick pediments — a swap which the District says will make all that 2-hours-free rooftop parking more visible, in the wake of the recent parking scheme changes:


As far as which retailers may move into the remodeled storefronts — Shake Shack’s confirmed spot on the Kirby corner doesn’t appear to be in this version of the picture (at least not in its latest rendered form, as seen below), but is purportedly still shooting for a November opening.

Most of the rest of the depicted storefronts are filled in with names vaguely evocative of actual brands, like “TAP,” “St. Vincent,” “Bordeaux,”, “Bristol & Rye,” “Tabique,”, and “Entablature.” The label for “Paper Co.” could be another of these (if it’s not an intentional reference to Paper Co. Cafe).

A small sign tucked away between logos for “Suit & Tie” and “Surrey & Essex,” also points pedestrians to Everything but Water (which already has a space on Kelvin), Sunglass Hut (which already has a space on University) and Australian skincare chain Aesop — which is opening a store on Westheimer Rd., but doesn’t currently have a Rice Village outpost.

Images: Rice Village District

Retail Redistricting

5 Comment

  • Does anyone shop there anymore? The parking lots w/the meters have been nearly vacant and the merchants desperately welcoming the last couple of times I’ve been there. The whitewash-I wouldn’t even call it paint-is a fail and will soon be grimy. As for the abstract blue owl, whoooo thinks that’s interesting?

  • This remodel effort (not to mention the parking meters) will only have a negative overall impact to the businesses and the district as a whole. I live in the area and frequent the Village at least once or twice a week. Since the implementation of the parking meters, foot traffic is visibly down in front of many of the stores. A few of the stores/restaurants which I frequent have confided to me that sales are significantly down since those meters have been put up. To me, the landowners and their management team have mis-fired dearly on their “strategic” remake of the Village. Instead of launching into paid parking, lease cancellations and costly remodel efforts, management should have conducted targeted market surveys of both its existing tenants and their customer bases. Sadly, sound planning gave way to issuing parking tickets and undertaking sterilizing painting. Maybe that was the intent — drive both existing businesses and customers away. A surefire way to generate returns out of the property. What makes the Village a draw is its variety in retail (luxury to moderate to unique) and its restaurants. I think it is fair to say that this new management team is burning the village down, one strategic initiative at a time.

  • Don’t understand the hostility about parking meters. Visited the Briar Shoppe recently, easily found a spot to park, and it cost me a buck. One (1) dollar ($). Took a credit card, no change needed. There’s something else going on here.

  • Morningside has deteriorated from a mess to a disaster. Apparently, our RV overlords have decreed Morningside is another of their “alleys”. A two minute trip can take 10-15 because all the delivery trucks
    and even 18 wheelers. On little Morningside. Torchy’s is a stinky mess with a filthy dumpster and a cooking oil-coated alley, pushing fumes 75′ away right into the the trendy outdoor bistro seating across the street. Torchy’s clientele seems largely Austin-lethargic with 25 year-olds backing down Morningside or blocking access to several parking lots…or the street. Those hipsters? No way they’re walking a hundred yards or parking on a roof, dude. Their outside seating also reeks of cooking oil. Just a lousy leasing decision.

    Next, to pile on, a new “burger bar” with a hard-surface oven-like “front yard” attracts more confused patrons,
    who sit, perplexed (again, blocking Morningside), while the contemplate the enormity of their dilemma: No, you can’t park in that “front yard” and yes, you HAVE to enter the garage. They are paralyzed millennials!

    I guess Rice’s goal is to create a playpen for their undergraduates and 26 year-olds still on mommy’s healthy plan….who really struggle with that driving (and courtesy). Many probably reside in the 1000 or so apartment units crammed onto….wait for it….Morningside.

    Oh yeah, since there’s PLENTY of room, FOOD TRUCKS on Morningside to service the drinkers! Does Rice Village need ANY food trucks? It is a food DESTINATION. Out. of. control.

    I’m 10 years in Southgate, walking distance to this slow-motion wreck of a development, and will likely be listing my house soon. I have no reason to live next to a more-expensive version of Washington Ave….
    It’s just a giant Urban Outfitters that’s moved from a lousy landlord to a neighborhood-destructive one.

  • Huh. We go shopping in Rice Village once a month or so, and I ride my bike through it once or twice a week. I haven’t had any trouble finding free parking, before or after the meters went up. The crowds seem about the same as always.