10/13/17 10:15am

16 months after the Fiesta Mart on site was torn down and 11 months since Heights-area voters approved a modification to longstanding local dry-zone prohibitions to allow alcohol sales for off-premises consumption, H-E-B at last appears ready to begin construction of its store at 2300 N. Shepherd. This week fencing went up around the site, which stretches between W. 23rd and W. 24th streets — and a couple of trailers have rolled onto it. An official groundbreaking is scheduled for October 24th.

The store will sit on the east side of the site but up one level, on top of a concrete parking deck. Here’s a view looking east along 23rd St. toward that part of the site and Lawrence St. beyond:

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07/19/17 5:30pm

The revised word from H-E-B on a construction start date for the 2-story store planned at N. Shepherd Dr. and 23rd St. was August 25th, as of late last month. Until then, some of that empty space is being put to use by a small bonsai tree sales operation, a reader in the neighborhood reports. And in case anyone else in the area is looking for a place to crash briefly, a small pile of mattresses has appeared near the dumpster at the back end of the lot.

The footprint of the departed Fiesta building, meanwhile, appears to have let itself go during the long period of unemployment. As of yesterday the previously cleared spot was sporting a shaggy new look, accessorized with at least one snappy yellow tag noting the city’s disapproval of the new growth: 

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Business in the Front
07/05/17 11:00am

The metal garage-and-office structure that once housed the Neff Rental location at the southwestern corner of Independence Heights has now been obliterated, a reader notes — sending the above photograph to serve as evidence of the building’s absence. Site work began at the property last month.

When construction is complete next year, a 30,000-sq.-ft. 365 by Whole Foods Market will face the North Loop feeder road, in front of an attached tilt-wall 12,000-sq.-ft. structure slated for a Houston Heights ER. A parking lot of 242 spaces will front Yale St. Immediately to the north on Yale, a 19,200-sq.-ft. strip center will be surrounded by additional parking.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Enough for Neff
06/26/17 3:30pm

HOW AMAZON AND WHOLE FOODS MARKET COULD CREATE THE NEW BUILDING BLOCKS OF URBAN COMMERCE, AND WHAT SOME OF THEM MIGHT LOOK LIKE Will Amazon transform Whole Foods Market into a grocery services building block for farmers, restaurants, and specialty grocers — on the model of the way Amazon Web Services now serves software developers? Joshua Rothman provides a brief overview of current thinking about Amazon’s possible plans for the grocery chain — and how the result might transform the landscapes of cities: “It’s increasingly easy to imagine,” he writes, “that a few decades from now, we’ll tell our kids about how we used to ‘go to the store’; they’ll look at us and say, ‘What?’ Earlier this month, Amazon filed a patent application describing large, multi-story drone towers in urban centers. Probably, in the future, such buildings will seem unremarkable. The hive-like towers will have loading docks and warehouses on the lower floors and bays for drones higher up; the drones may be repaired and supplied by robots. ‘There is a growing need and desire to locate fulfillment centers within cities, such as in downtown districts,‘ the patent application says.” [The New Yorker] Image from Amazon’s patent application for drone-delivery warehouse tower: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, via SiliconBeat

06/22/17 9:30am

H-E-B TO SCOOT GROUNDBREAKING BACK TO END OF SUMMER BREAK, SCOOT BUILDING UP TOWARD N. SHEPHERD Work on that Fiesta-supplanting H- E- B on N. Shepherd Dr. is now scheduled to kick off on August 25th, Scott McClelland tells Landan Kuhlmann in The Leader this week. That’s purportedly due to variance-related pushbacks — namely, to H-E-B’s request to put the edge of its proposed 2-story structure closer to the street (like the request it briefly filed around the start of November but pulled just before the alcohol sales election). That variance request was re-filed in January and was granted, but triggered another round of permitting approvals and associated waiting periods, McClelland says. Estimates on an opening date have also slid back to the end of next year’s summer vacation — by which time we’ll know whether the rest of the area’s alcohol sales laws have gone the way of the off-site sales rules H-E-B helped campaign to remove last fall. [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of H-E-B with N. Shepherd setback variance approval, as originally filed in 2016: Houston Planning Commission 

06/12/17 3:30pm

Back in March, excavators were cleared from the site at the northeast corner of Yale St. and the 610 North feeder road after heavy-equipment rental facility Neff Rental shut down. But at least one of them is back again today, reports a Swamplot reader who passed by the site. It’s shown in the left side of the photo above, performing what appears to be some site prep work for the future home of Houston’s first-ever 365 by Whole Foods market. Also on site, in the foreground of the photo taken from Yale St.: a new construction trailer.

Opening date for the mini-Whole Foods Market at 3004 N. Yale St. at the southern border of Independence Heights — originally scheduled for 2017 —has been pushed back to next year, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Groceries for Garden Oaks
05/23/17 10:15am

New scribbles on a siteplan show a Sprouts Farmers Market marked in as a tenant for the planned redo of the former East Downtown Houston Post building over on Polk St. at Dowling Emancipation Ave. (Don’t get this spot confused with the former postal office Downtown, which is also being redeveloped by the Lovett Commercial folks — nor with the other former Houston Post building recently resuscitated by the Chronicle.) The leasing plan appears to show some new construction toward the currently empty Bell St. end of the double-wide block, making room for the Sprouts and for a few layers of parking garage. It also notes a drive-thru CVS on the northern side, along Polk:

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East of East Village
05/10/17 3:30pm

In other grocery-apartment-midrise news, the 2-story hole for the below-ground parking component of the planned Pearl-branded apartment midrise with built-in Whole Foods looks to have touched bottom, and a tower crane on the site has reached its full height. Some of the construction site’s fence decorations have been swapped out with newer renderings, too — the latest drawings show a zoomier design and a new color scheme (this one falling more in the slatey-grey-brown range, compared to the doughy yellows picked out for the older drawings):

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Pearly Gates on Smith St.
05/05/17 2:30pm

More details on the planned Yale Marketplace development centered around the 365-branded mini Whole Foods planned for Independence Heights (but picking up the Garden Oaks moniker) come this week from Adolfo Pesquera, who posted the rendering above over at VBX of that companion strip mall planned just to the north of the grocery store. The structure looks to be slated for the narrow parcel of land where the long, low, industrial-slash-office park that until January hosted the Potter’s House Christian Church still stands.

Pesquera also reports that Houston Heights ER has officially signed on as the urgent care clinic that’ll be stuck to the side of the 365 (to the left, in the rendering below):

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Independence Heights
03/16/17 3:30pm

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076

6749 Airline Dr., Northline, Houston, 77076The Kroger Market at the not-quite-intersection of Airline Dr., Parker Rd., and Fulton St. in Northline is shutting down next month, an employee at the store tells Swamplot this afternoon (confirming a rumor from a reader in the vicinity). The store’s last day is planned for April 20th, after which it will cede the area to its nearest grocer competitors: the Food Town just over half a mile up Airline, at the intersection with Little York Rd.; the other Food Town a little over a mile further west down Little York; and the not-quite-an-H-E-B Joe V’s Smart Shop on N. Shepherd Dr., just across I-45.

Behind its cube-on-a-spindle signage, the store sits at the northern end of a classic array of strip mall companions (capped to the south by South Texas Dental, whose space and streetside signpost once belonged to a Blockbuster Video); standing alone at the southeast corner of the center sits El Muelle Seafood & Oysters, housed in a former Taco Bell.

Photos: James T.

Northline Line Drawn
03/10/17 5:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR WEEKEND HEIGHTS-CREEP FORECAST Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018“Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are [already] part of The Heights (the same way they are calling Spring Branch ‘Memorial’, and a lot of long time residents were angry that new residents called Northside Village ‘Tampico Heights’). I have bad news for the purists out there: if you live in Cottage Grove, Independence Heights, Shady Acres, Brooke Smith, Timbergrove/Lazybrook, those areas are now part of The Heights [as well].  . . . These hoods that have the 365 stores are gonna get more pricey and popular, since they are close to Downtown.” [Dj, commenting on Whole Foods’s 365 Garden Oaks Spot Now Emptied of Neff Rental Rentals] Rendering of 365 Garden Oaks: Boucher Design Group

03/08/17 4:30pm

Future Yale Marketplace site at Yale St. and 610 Loop, Garden Oaks/Independence Heights, Houston, 77018
Neff Rental at Yale St. and 610, Garden Oaks/ Independence Heights, Houston, 77018Several readers reported this morning that the Garden Oaks-Independence Heights border location of construction equipment rental shop Neff Rental, on the northeast corner of Yale St. and the North Loop, has been clearing out this week. That’s a prerequisite step before any new construction equipment can be moved back onto the site, to start work on the 365 Garden Oaks store Whole Foods has planned for the property (as rendered above).

Plans for the corner depict the mini-store accompanied by both attached and freestanding retail spots, 3 of which have pending leases with a dentist, a cellphone company, and a medical business respectively, according to the marketing materials trying to hawk the remaining space (highlighted in yellow):

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Yale Marketplace Marketing
03/02/17 3:45pm

FACEBOOK COMMENT OF THE DAY: CARL SANDBURG ON GROCERY STORE AESTHETICS Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008“Pile the carts high at Auchan and Weingarten. / Shovel them under and let me work— / I am the beige. I cover all. / And pile them high at Globe / And pile them high at Sage and Gemco / Shovel them under and let me work. / Two years, ten years, and shoppers ask the manager: / What place is this?/ Where are we now? / I am the beige. Let me work.” [Jerry Wright on Swamplot’s Facebook page, commenting on Secretly Preserved Weingarten History Quickly Erased from Side of Weingarten-Owned Heights Kroger; original poem here] Photo of briefly revealed Weingarten’s signage at W. 20th St. Kroger: Chris Barnes

Facebook Comment of the Day
03/01/17 11:30am

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Signage at Kroger, 239 W. 20th St., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The removal of the “Right Store Right Price” sign tacked onto the side of the Kroger at 239 W. 20th St. briefly revealed long-buried evidence of the building’s long-hidden relationship with Weingarten, a parking lot cruising reader notes. Yes, that Weingarten (which currently owns the shopping center): the company’s account of its own history notes that the Weingarten family started out in the grocery biz, then got into real estate to build its own stores. The company dropped supermarkets altogether in the early 1980s and went into real estate full time.

By mid-afternoon yesterday, the newly unearthed traces of the company’s former association with the building had already been beiged out:

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Uncovered on W. 20th
02/22/17 3:45pm

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

Demo site of Archstone Memorial Heights Apartments, Studewood at Washington Ave., Houston, 77007

The excavator treatment is complete for that subset of Archstone Memorial Heights apartment buildings that’ll be replaced by a mixed-use midrise with an H-E-B at the bottom, a neighbor notes. The shot above shows one of the buildings midway through the deconstruction process, which began earlier this month after that fenceless gate showed up on the site. Also noted during the demo weeks — a handful of firefighters rappelling down the side of the empty unit above.

As of about sunset yesterday, the site is now fully emptied out:

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Climbing the Walls on Wash Ave