05/25/16 11:51am

WILCREST WHOLE FOODS NOW ON HOLD WHILE BEING TRANSFERRED TO RANDALLS Whole Foods Market, 11041 Westheimer Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77042A reader reports that the Whole Foods Market at 11145 Westheimer was closed forever as of 4:15 pm on Sunday afternoon. The store’s new spot directly across S. Wilcrest Rd. in the former Randalls grocery store will be opening early in the morning on Wednesday, June 1, amid a flurry of gift-card giveaways; a DJ’d grocery store party will be held the afternoon before for those who RSVP. [Previously on Swamplot] Rendering of Whole Foods Wilcrest Market at 11041 Westheimer Rd.: Whole Foods Market

04/22/16 4:45pm

Aldi Grocery Store at 6751 Bissonnet St., Robindell, 77074

New parking lot has been spread out around the under-construction Aldi grocery store in Robindell, as seen in this fresh dispatch from behind the Baskin Robbins on the corner of Bissonnet and Beechnut streets. The Germany-rooted grocery store, which is replacing the 1956 strip of shops previously arrayed from 6711 to 6755 Bissonnet St., has settled on 6751 for its new street number, according to county records. Signage is now up on the newly constructed structure itself, though the old marquee along Beechnut St. (far right) still lists the full roster of the departed.

Photo: Angela Spieldenner

Firming Up in Robindell
03/16/16 10:45am

H-E-B mapped on Washington Ave. by Braun Enterprises

H-E-B has confirmed that the grocery store chain is considering a store on Washington Ave at Studemont St. Public affairs director Cyndy Garza-Roberts tells the HBJ that the chain has “been in discussion for that site for months,” though a deal isn’t finalized. The nod follows yesterday’s story about a Braun Enterprises leasing flier (advertising a property further east down Washington) that showed the company’s logo stamped over the site of the Archstone Memorial Heights apartments.

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Contemplating Memorial Heights
03/10/16 3:30pm

THE FIESTA ON N. SHEPHERD WILL BE SHUT DOWN IN 17 DAYS Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008 The Heights branch of parrot-adorned grocery store Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr. will be shuttered for good after closing time on March 27th, the store’s assistant manager told Betsy Denson of The Leader. The land has been owned by 2ML Real Estate since mid-2015, but 2ML president Jim Arnold, who’s other company owned the Fiesta until a few years ago, tells Denson it was Fiesta’s choice to bow out. As for the land itself, Arnold has “been approached by someone wanting to put in apartments – but any decision will wait for land studies and surveys. When asked if he’d like to see an H-E-B on the land, Arnold said he wouldn’t rule it out.” [The Leader; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fiesta Mart at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr.: Terah K.

02/02/16 12:00pm

HOUSING, RETAIL, RAMP TO 59 PLANNED FOR I-45 AT CULLEN BLVD. Rendering of the Gateway at Cullen, Cullen Blvd. at I-45, Greater Third Ward, Houston, 77004 New housing geared toward University of Houston and Texas Southern University students is planned near the U of H Main Campus’s main entrance on Cullen Blvd., according to PRNewswire. Plans for the Gateway at Cullen development include 531 beds (in single, double, quadruple, and quintuple groupings), mostly in townhome-esque 2-story configurations, which will contrast with most of Fountain Residential’s previous campus-geared housing projects in the area.  PRNewswire also reports that plans are in the works to replace the nearby Bestway Motor Inn with a new on-ramp to 59, and that the former Fingers Furniture warehouse will be turning into a retail center anchored by a grocery store. [PRNewswire, previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Fountain Residential

01/18/16 11:30am

H-E-B EXPLORING TINY STORES AS WALMART THROWS IN THE TOWEL Meanwhile, in San Antonio: As big-box giant Walmart nixes all of its Express mini-stores amid a larger batch of closures, H-E-B is making way for a full-service convenience store with an attached Wendy’s near the northwest corner of Loop 1604. H-E-B officials have been slow to confirm details of the new store, which is reportedly on the order of 7,500 sq. ft. and estimated to cost roughly $2.7 million. The Texas grocery chain frequently operates a small kiosk at its gas-proffering full-sized store locations, but only a handful of the full-service convenience stores currently exist; the one in Lytle, TX, contains a Whataburger. [Virtual Builders Exchange, via PaperCity]

01/04/16 11:30am

Kroger, 3300 Montrose Blvd, Montrose, Houston, 77006

Where you can: Aldi, Kroger, Spec’s (at least some of them), Brook’s Place (where it gets you a discount), Corkscrew BBQ, El Tiempo, Taste of Texas.

Where you can’t: Costco, Fiesta, HEB, Phonicia, Randall’s, Sprouts, Target, Trader Joe’s, the Galleria, Whataburger, and a slew of restaurants across town that have told Kyle Nielsen and friends that they plan to ban openly carried handguns at their establishments. Nielsen created a publicly accessible Google doc listing the yes, no, and maybe-so responses of various Houston grocery stores and restaurants to the question “Will you post a 30.07 sign banning open carry of handguns in your store, starting January 1?”

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Aiming to Please
06/19/15 12:30pm

KROGER SAYS IT HAS ‘NO PLANS’ TO CLOSE SIGNATURE STORE ON OST Kroger Signature Grocery Store, 1990 Old Spanish Trail at Cambridge St., HoustonResponding to yesterday’s Swamplot story noting council member Dwight Boykins’s report to his constituents that Kroger is shutting down its store at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Cambridge St., a spokesperson for the grocery store chain tells Swamplot that Kroger plans to “continue operating the store as a leased property to serve the medical center community,” and that “there are no plans at this time to close the location.” Kroger has been operating the grocery store at 1990 Old Spanish Trail since 1994. Photo: Edgar V.

06/18/15 1:30pm

THE KROGER ON OST AT CAMBRIDGE ST. IS CLOSING Signature Kroger, 1990 Old Spanish Trail at Cambridge St., HoustonCiting the demographics and income levels of the surrounding neighborhood, officials from Kroger tell Dwight Boykins that the Signature Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Trail, immediately north of UTHealth’s Research Park complex, is closing, the council member reports. The store is the closest supermarket to the Texas Medical Center main campus. Boykins cited the decision in explaining why he delayed a vote on Kroger’s request for a $775K tax abatement connected to the expansion of the company’s distribution center at 701 Gellhorn Dr., near the intersection of the East Fwy. and the East Loop. Kroger was granted the abatement by a vote of city council yesterday, with Boykins absent. Update, 6/19: Kroger responds. [Houston Style Magazine, via HAIF; Houston Chronicle] Photo: Juleena M.

05/08/15 3:30pm

Rendering of Proposed Whole Foods Market in Pearl on Smith Apartments, 3100 Smith St. at Elgin, Midtown, Houston

Now we know why the Morgan Group, the developer that applied for a variance last year to allow for a Pearl on Smith apartment complex to fit onto the block surrounded by Elgin, Smith, Brazos, and Rosalie streets, later withdrew the request: To expand the project so that it could include a 40,000-sq.-ft. Whole Foods Market on its ground floor. And here’s a rendering of the design of the whole thing by Houston’s Ziegler Cooper Architects.

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Pearl on Smith on Elgin
05/07/15 2:45pm

3100 Smith St., Midtown, Houston

What better encapsulation of the recent trajectory of Midtown could you find than today’s news that Whole Foods Market plans to build a new 40,000-sq.-ft. store on the former site of the city’s Social Security Office (pictured above) at 3100 Smith St. in Midtown?

Well, a few details to the story of the ramshackle block surrounded by Smith, Brazos, Elgin, and Rosalie give it even more color as a Houston gentrification parable: Noting, for example, that the former government office, across the street from a couple of bars, had been shuttered by the feds a couple years ago. Or that plans for a Morgan Group apartment complex on the same site were submitted to the city and then abandoned sometime last year. (It would have been called the Pearl on Smith.) Also: When it opens at the end of 2017, Whole Foods Market’s new Midtown location may turn out not to be a Whole Foods Market. The company says it’s developing an unnamed “sister chain” of smaller stores targeting younger buyers, but did not indicate whether the Midtown Houston store would be part of it.

Photo: O’Connor & Associates

The Midtown Story in a Nutshell
04/28/15 12:30pm

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

04/17/15 3:15pm

Royal Oaks Village II Shopping Center, Westchase, Houston

Here’s an aerial view of the Royal Oaks Village II shopping center, where the Houston area’s fifth Trader Joe’s is already under construction behind the Harvest Organic Grille. (That’s the unidentified pad-site restaurant at the top right of the shopping center, which is outlined in red.) There the new grocery store take its place among a spread of nearby food-shopping options along the south side of Westheimer, which include the Walmart Supercenter at W. Houston Center Blvd., the Chick-Fil-A and H-E-B at Kirkwood, and the Whole Foods Market at Wilcrest.

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Parking Lot Touchdown
02/26/15 11:45am

H-E-B Nogalitos Market, 1601 Nogalitos St., San Antonio, Texas

H-E-B Bellaire Market, 5130 Cedar St., Bellaire, TexasThe new 70,000-sq.-ft. grocery store H-E-B is hoping to build to replace its current location near the intersection of Bissonnet St. and S. Rice Ave. in Bellaire (pictured in the bottom photo) may fit most of its parking space underneath the store. Speaking to Bellaire residents at a meeting earlier this week, officials from the company described an option that would require demolition of the entire shopping center at 5100 Cedar St. — including the existing 20,000-sq.-ft. H-E-B store and all adjacent stores. In its place would go up a 70,000-sq.-ft. store with parking underneath and in front. All shopping would be on the second floor.

To help describe the concept, officials showed images of the company’s store on Nogalitos St. in San Antonio (pictured in the top photo), which opened last month. That store, which is only 62,000 sq. ft., features a first-floor parking garage and a “travelator” (similar to one of the escalators installed to connect the garage to the entrance of the new Post Oak Blvd. Whole Foods Market) to move shoppers and their carts between levels. (The low structure in front of the building is a preserved section of the façade of the previous store on that site.)

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Upper Level Groceries
02/12/15 12:45pm

Frenchy's Barber Shop, 5106 Cedar St., Bellaire, Texas

Is H-E-B planning to build a new Bellaire store in the triangle-shaped block surrounded by S. Rice Ave., Bissonnet, and Cedar St., in the north corner of the Bellaire Triangle? This week’s Southwest News implies that the Texas-based grocery company is: “H-E-B has tentatively reserved Bellaire’s Civic Center auditorium on Feb. 24 for the Big Reveal: a new supermarket for Bellaire,” reads the page-one story, which also notes that engineers have submitted a planned development request with the city for an H-E-B at 5106 Cedar St., to be heard by the zoning commission on March 10.

But H-E-B Houston division president Scott McClelland tells Swamplot that the Cedar St. spot is only “one location we are considering. Because of the size and shape of the center, we would have to be innovative in our approach. We have not locked down firm plans at this time.”

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Bellaire Triangle