H-E-B WILL DOUBLE DOWN ON A HEIGHTS DRY ZONE STORE OR NOT BUILD AT ALL The H-E-B proposed for the former N. Shepherd Fiesta site at W. 24th St. would be another 2-story store, Houston H-E-B president Scott McClelland tells Jack Witthaus. The grocery chain is backing the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition’s dry-zone dampening campaign and showed up for the press conference last week on the now-cleared 4-ish-acre site. The company has already been planning its first double-decker Houston location (rendered above) on the 3-acre site of the existing H-E-B in Bellaire; plans for that development show about 75,000 sq. ft. of store stacked on top of an all-parking ground level. McClelland tells Witthaus that the proposed H-E-B in the dry area of the Heights would be about 80,000 sq. ft. and come with a 2018 expected completion date, but that H-E-B won’t build in the zone at all if the upcoming election doesn’t go their way. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of proposed 2-story H-E-B in Bellaire: Terra Associates
The marker above (showing a now-officially-proposed H-E-B on N. Shepherd Dr.) is a little out of place, if it’s aiming for the former Fiesta site on N. Shepherd between W. 23rd and W. 24th streets as H-E-B says — but you get the idea, and the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition held a press conference on the site this morning to drive the point home. The red line on the map also only roughly shows the boundary of the nominal dry zone that the H-E-B-backed PAC is hoping to get loosened up a bit via that upcoming local election on take-home beer and wine sales. But you can find out for sure whether or not you’re close enough to be eligible to vote in the Houston-Heights-only election by checking your ballot at at HarrisVotes.com — and also check whether or not you’re registered, which you’ve only got until Tuesday to do. (If printing out a form is too much of a hassle, maybe try your nearest taco truck.)
Map of proposed H-E-B in Heights Dry Zone: Houston Heights Beverage Coalition
Here’s the map posted by Houstonia’s Katharine Shilcutt this morning showing the usual haunts of 8 taco trucks now also serving as mobile voter registration hubs. This particular registration push, which started yesterday and will last through Texas’s October 11th registration deadline, is a combined effort of communication designer Thomas Hull and the local chapter of political-activity-encourager Mi Familia Vota. The plan developed in the wake of Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez’s comments earlier this month, which painted an accidentally delicious picture of a future US landscape hosting “taco trucks on every corner”; those comments, in turn, spurred a “Guac the Vote” campaign from the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has been calling for taco-truck-based voter registration at the national level.
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Guac the Vote
YES, THE HEIGHTS DRY ZONE PETITIONERS REALLY DID COLLECT ENOUGH SIGNATURES FOR A VOTE Tuesday’s city council meeting gave the formal OK to the H-E-B-backed Heights Beverage Coalition’s petition for a local option election on whether or not to allow the take-home sale of beer and wine within the boundaries of the nominal dry zone formerly known as City of Houston Heights. The number of signatures required was set as 35 percent of the voters in the affected zone who voted in the 2014 governor’s election — which county clerk Stan Stanart pegged at 1,511 in early July. The city secretary announced the petitioner’s total as 1,759 valid signatures; Tuesday’s vote to approve those findings means the measure will be on the ballot in November. [City of Houston, Houston Public Media; previously on Swamplot] Photo of TABC regional headquarters at 427 W. 20th St.: LoopNet
COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO CUT THE COST OF THE FREE ASTRODOME MISCONCEPTION “No one voted to tear [the Astrodome] down. We voted not to spend money to refurbish it. Big difference. The only way forward is a multi-option vote: Tear it down, fix it up, or keep paying to do neither. Spell out the costs of each, so voters won’t assume doing nothing is free.” [Memebag, commenting on Count Wants To Fill In the Astrodome’s Flood Levels with Parking; previously on Swamplot] Illustration: Lulu
TRUMP’S LAST-MINUTE VENUE SCRAMBLE ENDS AT WOODLANDS MARRIOTT, GILLEY’S BAR Yesterday morning presumptive GOP presidential nominee and figurehead of an alleged real estate education scam Donald Trump briefly appeared to have cancelled public rallies scheduled for Dallas tonight and Houston tomorrow, in both cases for lack of a venue. Multiple major Dallas-Forth Worth-area convention centers, citing unusually short notice and security concerns, reportedly refused to host the event. The campaign announced hours later that it would be holding tonight’s rally at a Gilley’s-branded nightclub in Dallas; tomorrow’s Houston event landed a convention room in the Woodlands Waterway Marriott immediately next door to Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. During the interrim, the Houston Press tried to help Trump out, checking on availability at venues ranging from NRG Stadium to the Sam Houston Race Park, as well as some concert spots; a Warehouse Live employee told reporter Diana Wray that the venue was otherwise engaged for Friday, but that the hypothetical pairing of a Trump rally with tomorrow night’s planned BET-sponsored Trap Karaoke night would be “something to see.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Press] Photo of Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center at 1601 Lake Robbins Dr.: Marriott International
HEIGHTS DRY ZONE SIGNATURE GATHERERS RETURN FROM THE HUNT VICTORIOUS Reports comes from both NextDoor and The Heights Life blog that the H-E-B-backed Houston Heights Beverage Coalition has collected the signatures it needs to trigger a local election over legalizing carry-out beer and wine sales in the Heights dry zone. The petition was officially issued in mid-May, at which point the 60-day collection clock started ticking; the group claimed they needed 1,500 signatures to meet the required threshold of 35 percent of the population living in the zone. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of TABC regional headquarters at 427 W. 20th St.: LoopNet
The glowing parrot and red neon lettering previously decorating the front of the former Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. have been traded out for a construction fence and a few streamers of festive caution tape. A pre-demo permit to disconnect the 1965 building’s plumbing was issued near the end of May, and a reader snapped the top photo of the site during a break in Friday’s rain.
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Cleanup on 23rd
COMMENT OF THE DAY: LAYING OUT STRATEGIC ANGLES ON THE NEXT HEIGHTS BOOZE BATTLE
“. . . Flooding? Really? There are no tracts of land any grocer could realistically acquire that are not already paved over for commercial spots. Nobody is going to open a liquor store in the middle of a residential section where there will be no traffic — there’s plenty of storefront space near by. The proposed change won’t impact bars and restaurants. . . . [The backers] are advocating for a policy change with respect to a policy that impacts their business. How else would you propose they do it other than hiring a law firm and PR firm to help them navigate the rather obscure laws that govern this thing?” [Heightsresident, commenting on H-E-B Would Like To Plant a Store in a Wetter Heights Dry Zone] Illustration: Lulu
The semi-shrouded Houston Heights Beverage Coalition released a statement today filling in some details on the group’s plan to legalize take-home beer and wine sales in the Heights’ dry zone. The initiative was floated quietly on Cinco de Mayo by way of 109-word newspaper legal notice; the group’s longer press release clarifies that it will try to collect around 1,500 signatures in 60 days to call a special election for residents of the no-longer-a-city of Houston Heights. That election wouldn’t change the zone’s ban on liquor sales (or the need for a private-club-workaround for folks intent on selling it anyway), but would allow grocery stores to get in on the alcoholic action.
Coalition chair Steve Reilley tells the Houston Press‘s Phaedra Cook that H-E-B supports the measure — adding that the chain is probably going to move into the area if the change passes. Reilley also says that other grocery chains are involved with the coalition, but doesn’t tell Cook which ones.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY: EXCAVATING ELECTION PROCEDURES IN THE LOST CITY OF HOUSTON HEIGHTS “OK, here’s where things get complicated. The current Alcoholic Beverage Code and Texas election law only provide for the possibility of holding a local option election in a county, municipality or JP precinct. It is therefore not clear that the application for a petition can be accepted as written, since the ‘area formerly known as the city of Houston Heights’ is none of those things. To complicate matters further, if the application were re-submitted as covering Harris County Precinct 1 (which covers the entirety of the dry area), it may still not resolve the matter. Current law essentially says that, for the purposes of local option elections, the vote of a justice precinct doesn’t prevail over the vote of a city, independent of date of election. So the 1918 prohibition election would trump the 2016 local option election. There’s a reasonable reading of this that indicates the only way to allow alcohol sales in the dry Heights is a local option election for the entire city of Houston. Since petitions require a number of signatures exceeding 25 percent of the votes cast in the last general election, the petitioners would need many more signatures than there are actual residents of the affected area. Good luck with that.” [Angostura, commenting on Somebody’s Trying to Legalize Beer and Wine Sales in the Heights Dry Zone] Map of Heights Dry Zone: HoustonHeights.org
A group called the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition PAC is hoping to bring about a vote on allowing beer and wine sales in the technically dry section of the Houston Heights. The group published a notice on May 5th announcing an application to the city to start collecting the petition signatures required to get the measure on a local option ballot.
Here’s the text of the required public notice:
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Watering Down the Dry Laws
Go ahead and play around with the map above (created by activist Kris Banks), showing the precinct-by-precinct outcome across Harris County for last month’s Republican presidential primaries. Shades of red show the spots won by Cruz (most of them, though a lighter shade indicates less solid support). Precincts won by Rubio show up in shades of blue (mostly clustered on the west side of the Inner Loop), while Trump support is marked in gold (mostly northeast and south of Downtown, as well as strung out along the Westpark Tollway); a few Carson precincts show up in green.
January Advisors’s Jeff Reichmann recently took a look at Banks’s election maps, which include results from both parties’s primaries and a starkly geographically-split down-ballot race for the Democratic district attorney nomination. You can click on each precinct to get its number and a breakdown of the results. Here’s how things looked for the Democrats, with the Sanders precincts in green spangling a field of Clinton blue:
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Drawing It Out
HOUSTON’S NEXT MAYOR CARES ABOUT YOUR MESSED-UP SIDEWALK Sylvester Turner likes TxDOT’s plan to reroute I-45 around the east side of Downtown. Bill King has given up on riding his bike in the city because he feels it’s too dangerous. But both runoff candidates for mayor agree: Water quality is Houston’s most pressing environmental issue, and the city should shoulder more responsibility for fixing sidewalks. At least that’s what they wrote in response to a series of questions about the city’s built and natural environment submitted to them by the Rice Design Alliance’s Cite magazine. [OffCite] Photo: Flickr user bpawlik
The reader who sends this photo from this morning’s commute — on I-45 North near Canino — says it appears workers were “just putting up” this “Save the Dome” sign from OurAstrodome.org on the billboard this morning. “I drive by there every day and I don’t remember seeing it [before today],” the reader reports. The campaign ad in support of Harris County Proposition 2 on today’s ballot — which will determine the fate of the Astrodome — is visible going northbound on the freeway. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox