Susanne Discovers the Grocery Lure

SUSANNE DISCOVERS THE GROCERY LURE H-E-B Montrose Market, 1701 W. Alabama St., Lancaster Place, Montrose, HoustonHow nice to live where there’s a grocery store just across the street! And how nice to have your apartments across from the supermarket — at least when you’re trying to fill them up: Ellie Sweeney, property manager for Finger Companies’ 396-unit Susanne apartment complex on the site of the former Montrose Fiesta Mart at 3833 Dunlavy St., tells reporter Catie Dixon that 80 percent of traffic to the leasing office from potential residents has been from shoppers at the Montrose H-E-B across the street (where the Wilshire Village apartments once stood). The Susanne’s website speaks highly as well — though somewhat distractedly — of its neighbor: “You’ve got your very own café right across the way,” the marketing copy announces, explaining that the H-E-B was “Designed to be the flagship Lake /Plato [sic] extravaganza.” Nine people have already moved into the Susanne’s first floor; the second floor opens for move-ins next month. All construction should be complete by the end of October. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Finger Companies

34 Comment

  • I really wish they would do this to the Fiesta Mart on Shepard and 610 (2300 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77008) in the Heights. This would really help clean up that area. Additionally, there is a brand new JLB apartment complex going up across the street that will hook into hike/bike trails… another reason for demand of a new supermarket.

  • Wow, my very own cafe across the street from me? It’s all so…urban.

  • if I were Finger I would be concerned that Urban Living was going to sue me for stealing their patented two-tone grey stucco design, which is readily available in U.L. town homes throughout Montrose, Washington, and the Heights.

  • HEB is a huge draw.

    It’s vastly superior to all other competitors in terms of freshly made, quality food at reasonable prices. The quality of food at HEB is making things difficult for competitors like Whole Foods who like to charge through the nose for basic items. The deli cafe is light years better than Kroger, as well.

  • I agree with Stewart King. The Fiesta doesn’t really match the neighborhood’s changing composition. Most people I talk to up here drive to the Kroger Signature on 11th or to the Whole Foods on Waugh.

  • Those apartments were one of the biggest lures for me to leave the area. Seeing that unit go up on the intersection of two already very crowded 1 lane roads….not quite my tempo. I love the neighborhood, and I’m happy to see other people moving there and enjoying it, but I just can’t take the traffic anymore. 400 units with a lot of them having more than 1 occupant…that’s a lot of cars. Also my landlord finally finally got the memo that he could be charging me a lot more than 1400$/mo on my 2.5/1 less than a quarter mile from this place…

  • Tear down an apartment complex to build a grocery store. Go across the street. Tear down an grocery store to build an apartment complex. And so on, and so on…

  • Not gonna lie, when I need to make a major grocery run I regularly venture from Greater Third to this H-E-B, passing legions of competitors – Wheeler Fiesta, Midtown Randalls, Disco Kroger – along the way.

  • Does anyone remember a time when people chose to live in the Montrose for reasons other than food and convenience? Yeah, me either. Long live Fiesta! #neverforget

  • @Stewart King. Exactly. As I’ve mentioned here before, people in the Heights are forced to drive to the HEB on Bunker Hill or the HEB in Montrose – both an easy 10-15 minutes each way. The Kroger on 11th sucks.

  • What’s funny is the old apartment building (where there is a new grocery store) and a grocery store across the street (where there is a new apartment building)
    Bless the irony.
    The reality is that Fiesta complex was a pile. But I always thought the old apt complex could be fixed up and be a pretty cool project.

  • @Stewart King:

    As of 2010, the census tract in which the Heights Fiesta is located is 46% latino. The area surrounding the former Montrose Fiesta is 26% latino.

  • I agree with MrEction. The Susanne may be nicer than some of the other yuppie tenements in the area, but once it’s fully open, I’ll have to learn to avoid Dunlavy and that section of W. Alabama, ‘cuz traffic will suck even worse than it does now. Those streets are not in great physical shape, and increased traffic will make them even worse. At least it’s a fully walkable neighborhood, so maybe some of the new tenants will be able to give up their car for some things. If I had to live in an inner loop apartment (and thank God I don’t), the Susanne would be my choice. I lived right behind the HEB for 10 years and loved the neighborhood.

  • @Stewartking,@NorthHeights; maybe if you patronized your local Fiesta Mart more often they could generate revenue to update the building…just saying. Dont be skurd of Fiesta just cuz you dont see a starbucks inside.

  • Fiesta owns the dirt at 2300 N. Shep and has seen its tax bill almost double over the past three years. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before it bows out of that location. Fiesta makes its money in the burbs and near burbs where there are a lot of Spanish speakers. it already shuttered its store on 14th and Studewood.
    Unfortunately, I doubt that HEB would take a shot at that location. HEB is dead set on having at least 6 acres for its stores. The lot on 2300 N Shep is just under 4 acres.
    But who knows. In addition to the JLB complex, the old National Flame and Forge site has been replatted, indicating that multifamily redevelopment might be in the works for that site once the energy markets turn around.

  • Fiesta > HEB
    Hong Kong Market > Fiesta
    HEB and Fiesta are kind of a toss up on freshness of produce and meats. Fiesta gets a nod for being more diverse on what they carry.
    Hong Kong Market though, I can buy various live seafood, their produce section is so big you can literally get lost.
    Fiesta may be scary for some, Hong Kong Market may be out of the way for many, but HEB is far from the best place to go grocery shopping.

  • With the Trader Joe’s, PetSmart, CVS, HEB Montrose and Menil, this area is the beginning of a truly urban area where people can run their everyday errands without getting into their cars. Hopefully an investor will see the potential and create another Highland Village on the available retail area on Richmond that’s conveniently close to West U and commuters coming from downtown.

  • Toasty, it’s not really about quality of meats & produce though. Fiesta will never stock the newer high margin goods that middle aged housewives have come to depend to feed their instagram and facebook accounts.
    Regarding Dunlavy, it’s actually much better now with all the increased traffic than it ever used to be since someone actually invested money into for the first time in decades. There could be 4 cars at the light and you still wouldn’t make it through since left turners weren’t familiar with pulling into the intersection so everyone else could go around.
    Concrete, it’s long been an urban area where you could get by without a car. The only thing that changed is density has increased and income levels are way up. I think the reality will oddly be the opposite though. With a younger population you used to see a lot more folks getting around on bikes and scooters but higher income/older populations will always be car dependent.

  • the Fiesta on Shepherd is awesome, y’all are crazy. Cheap, decent quality produce, and a lot more international/fancy items than most people realize. I’ve been seeing a lot more white yuppies (besides myself) there recently so I know I’m not the only one who thinks that way. The Kroger on 11th is ridiculously big, not in a good way, and parking is often terrible there

    Stewart King could you be more specific in what you mean by “clean up the area”? The store looks fine to me, at least it serves a service to the community unlike the 4,000 used car lots nearby (well OK, they provide jobs, but they’re just a tad redundant)

  • What has in-town living become when you are proud of your “Trader Joe’s, PetSmart, CVS, HEB”. That’s the suburbs folks….

  • @R_uNiT @Matt. I agree with you Matt, I’m also in favor of cleaning up and getting rid of all of those used car lot’s. What I don’t agree with is your statement about the Fiesta looking nice.. if you ask anyone in the area- yes it serves it’s purpose but is looks like a piece of garbage. Let’s call a spade a spade. If a new grocery store ever replaced Fiesta this would be a huge value add for the neighborhood and house values.

  • @Matt sorry not nice but “Looks Fine*

  • @ Stewart King – Right on the money Stewart. This would make our neighborhood a much safer place and additionally this would really increase home values!

  • I was thinking the same thing @vwgto is this REALLY what people think of when they think of Houston urbanism? Interesting…

  • Regarding urbanism and grocery stores:
    I spent some time with in-laws in Chicago. They lived in a high rise there. No car, public transportation, delivery services, so the pinnacle of Mt. Urban. They went to Trader Joe’s all the time. I didn’t see a PetSmart, but they had drug stores. So I’m not sure why those places aren’t urban to some of the folks here.

  • Thanks @Stewart King. The area is now full of young active professional’s & family’s looking for a great grocery experience with fresh food, juicing bar, indoor/outdoor eating area’s, sushi bar, salad bar… something that Fiesta lacks and will never make that type of investment. This is prime location that hooks right into the hike/bike trails.

    Additionally, the times that I have shopped at Fiesta (Yes I have been there) it’s been a terrible experience.. Fly’s are all over the fresh produce, The fish & lobsters in the tanks have been there for ages, understaffed, low quality, & overall aesthetic’s of the the building = terrible.

    We should petition to get rid of the Fiesta and Car Dealerships. Somebody tell me how those dealerships are turning a profit? I’ve seen cars on those lots for years… which makes me believe those dealerships are “Fronts” for other activity. #CleanupTheHeights

  • Alison Cook is reporting that Fiesta has been sold to a D.C. based outfit called Acon Investments.

  • Do we really need identical Whole Foods/HEBs all through town? Judging from this thread it seems we might. The idea that the Fiesta “needs” to be torn down is kind of mind-boggling to me but I guess it’s more important to have a “great grocery experience” (seriously who talks this way outside of HEB VPs of marketing) than a store that offers decent products at affordable prices. I buy most of my produce and fruit there and I’ve never had issues.

    This Fiesta is far from perfect (for one you can’t get wine there. Or good cheese!) but it’s strange how it seems to incarnate some of the less desirable aspects of a great vibrant neighborhood to some posters here. And I’m not sure what safety has to do with the store, unless Steve H meant that risky entry back onto Shepherd, though I’ve got a hunch that’s not it.

  • Ron, the car dealerships can be quite lucrative because many of their customers default and they get to sell or same car many times over. Also, they charge really high interest rates. Basically they are like mattress stores. They are small individually but cumulatively they are essentially huge dealerships for lower income buyers. There is a lot of money in these.

    You forgot to mention all the tire shops. Seriously, who is changing their tires so often?

  • The only uninviting thing I have found about the Fiesta on Shepherd is the vast sea of concrete in front of it. If Houston’s urban areas are really going to densify – kiss the big grocery stores with all the bells and whistles (huge parking lots, instore cafes, wine bars, pharmacies, sushi bars(!), etc.) we’ve come to expect goodbye. Cars cannot remain the default priority transportation.

    Say hello to small compact groceries like the Stop N Shops I remember in Chicago or the corner stores you find in NYC.

  • Those that think CVS, Trader Joe, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and even Bed, Bath and Beyond are not urban have never been to SF or NYC other than the tourist spots. It’s not only about unique places to eat and shop (which Montrose provides) but everyday conveniences that don’t require driving like you must do in the suburbs.

  • I think we are all in agreement that the Fiesta, Car Dealerships, & tire shops in the heights need to go. And as for as a new Supermarket to replace the Fiesta … anything is better. Fiesta is not he right demographic for this location. The area is rapidly growing with young business professionals and families.

  • Translation: We are trying hard to gentrify the Heights. Will someone please get rid of these poor people and their grocery store?

  • Suggested replacements for Shepherd Fiesta (as long as anything is better): Joe V’s or Food Town, perhaps?
    Perhaps the professionals and young families will like those better since the Heights is so gung ho about supporting local business–Joe Vs is part of HEB family of Austin, Food Town is owned by Lewis headquartered in South Houston. Now that Fiesta, which was headquartered at 5235 Katy Frwy. Houston TX 77007, has been bought out, gotta find a local business to support.