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
12/12/14 10:30am

richwood-market-freaky-foods-west-view

Is there more change coming to lower Richmond?

The former Shell station and grocery at 1810 Richmond Ave known until recently (formally) known as Richwood Market and (informally) as “Freaky Foods” is boarded up and graffiti-tagged:

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Death Knell For The Shell?
11/06/14 4:00pm

supermercado-walmart-long-pt

Supermercado de Walmart, 7690 Long Point Rd., Spring Branch, HoustonHouston’s (and America’s) first Walmart grocery store named and designed to cater to Latinos shut its doors at the end of last week. Supermercado de Walmart opened 5 years ago in Spring Branch in a converted 39,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market-style store at 7960 Long Point Rd., amid a fanfare of mariachi music and a smorgasbord of free food and drink samples. Those days are long gone: A reader sends in a pic (at right) of the far more offhand sign taped to the glass door. 

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Spring Branch Supermarket Shutdown
11/04/14 12:30pm

whole-foods-post-oak-cosmo

Swamplot culled through the best of the many media previews of the Whole Foods Market Houston-area flagship on Post Oak Blvd. — so you don’t have to! Yes, the much-hyped supermarket is finally throwing open its doors to the public Thursday. (Free reusable shopping bag to the first 500 customers!) So here is a quick round-up of the wonders within the 8-years-in-the-making anchor development in BLVD Place:

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Post Oak Supermarket Tizzy
10/09/14 2:45pm

THE NEW H-E-B AT SAN FELIPE AND FOUNTAINVIEW WILL TAKE OVER WHERE LUPE TORTILLA’S SANDBOXES LEFT OFF Rendering of New H-E-B Market, Fountainview Dr. and San Felipe Dr., HoustonFormer Haven chef and now JCI (James Coney Island) and H-E-B consultant Randy Evans drops a few notable details about the new H-E-B now under construction at the corner of San Felipe and Fountain View, where he’s helping create the chain’s first Houston in-grocery-store restaurant: “We’re looking at beer and wine for this store. There’s going to be a great patio and a stage for live music. There’s going to be an [outdoor] area for the kids to play so you can sit and have a glass of wine, have some bites and have your kids have a good time before you go shopping.” The store is scheduled to open in January. [Eating Our Words; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: H-E-B

10/06/14 5:15pm

Georgia's Market Downtown, 420 Main St. at Rusk St., Downtown Houston

The number of grocery-store-type places open Downtown is down by one: Georgia’s Market, the cafe-and-bar-with-staples at the corner of Rusk and Main St., shut down at the end of last month. A note on the door at 420 Main St. informs customers that the 3-year-old establishment has closed for some sort of “revamp,” and refers patrons to the company’s website for “days open and future plans.” But the website isn’t much more helpful. “Thank you all for your past patronage and healthy intentions. Please stay tuned to further development at the Downtown location,” it notes dryly. The Georgia’s Market Memorial Village (now at 9201 Katy Fwy. at Piney Point; the one at Dairy Ashford closed) remains open.

Photo: EaDo Life

09/16/14 1:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FULLY QUALIFIED TO BRING YOU BEER BY TRICYCLE WHILE YOU SHOP Whole Foods Market Tricycle“I submitted my résumé for the position. As an expedition touring cyclist I think I’m qualified to make a few rounds within 55k sq. ft. toting clanging bottles of beer. Instead of wearing weather resistant gear I think I’ll gladly don tweed knickers and a driving cap to look the part. Here’s to 1mph in the meat section. Wish me luck Houston. I ride with the wind.” [Rider of Rohan., commenting on Galleria Whole Foods Market Opening November 6, Will Include Austin-Import Beer-on-a-Trike] Illustration: Lulu

09/15/14 1:00pm

GALLERIA WHOLE FOODS MARKET OPENING NOVEMBER 6, WILL INCLUDE AUSTIN-IMPORT BEER-ON-A-TRIKE BLVD Place Whole Foods Market Under Construction, 1700 Post Oak Blvd., Galleria, HoustonThe long-awaited BLVD Place Whole Foods Market will finally open on November 6, reports the HBJ‘s Jenny Agee-Aldridge. And the grocery juggernaut has fed her another notable market-marketing nugget: Shoppers at the new 55,000-sq.-ft. store at 1700 Post Oak Blvd. will be able to make beer orders and receive deliveries while shopping — from a beer-toting store employee riding a tricycle around the market. The non-motorized alcohol delivery setup, Agee-Aldridge notes, is an Austin import. But the beer source is a Houston first: The store will be the first Whole Foods’ anywhere to have its own brewery on the premises, and will feature beer-themed breads and desserts as well. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock