The Fresh Market grocery store that opened across Weslayan from Central Market at 3745 Westheimer Rd. last August will be shut down within a week or 2. The national chain galloped into the Houston area last year by moving into 4 former locations of Rice Epicurean. The company cited “meaningful profitability hurdles” in announcing the single-store closure, along with the closure of 3 additional locations in California. Still alive, apparently: plans to open a store at 1519 West Bay Area Blvd. in Webster this year.
Photo: John W.
Central Market Wins Again
Architect Meeks + Partners has posted a rendering of the steel-framed apartment complex Greystar is planning to replace the Memorial Club Apartments lining the southern boundary of the Washington on Westcott roundabout. Swamplot reported Greystar’s plans for the apartments last year — along with a tip that the planned redevelopment would include a new Trader Joe’s. The rendering shows no sign of a Trader Joe’s, but it does show the base of the apartment structure filled with retail spaces and outdoor dining areas facing the roundabout. The view appears to be taken southeast from the roundabout; the existing stone Rice Military placard is in the foreground.
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Elan Memorial Park
A northern branch of Mercantile, the combo espresso bar and mini-mart that opened a few months ago in the Rice Village, will be opening up in the vacant First Stop Food Store spot shown above at the corner of Stanford St. and Hawthorne in Audubon Place, its owner confirmed this week. Mercantile could be described as the upscale version of Washington Ave’s Catalina Coffee (they’re run by the same owner). And that’s exactly what Houstonia‘s Katharine Shilcutt felt free to do: “Catalina Coffee is the brooding, sensitive, bookish older sister, while Mercantile is the peppy younger sister who wears Ralph Lauren and daydreams about horses and joins a sorority in college yet is no less intelligent or passionate than her sibling.” The perky youngster also carries more baked goods, groceries, and gift items on her dainty shelves.
Photo of First Stop Food Mart at 3321 Stanford St.: Swamplot inbox
Groceries in Small Packages
COMMENT OF THE DAY: SAFEWAY’S PLANS FOR A LEANER RANDALLS OPERATION “I’m not buying the ‘pulling out of Houston’ claim. Other chains are debasing themselves to get into the Houston/DFW/Austin markets. Why would an incumbent, distressed or not, just completely pull out? Doesn’t pass logical test, IMO. Reducing cost by eliminating regional management and failing to renew a lease aren’t the same thing as a wholesale abandonment of Houston.” [Tom Opposable Thumb, commenting on Yet Another Sign of a Coming Randalls Houston Pullout] Illustration: Lulu
YET ANOTHER SIGN OF A COMING RANDALLS HOUSTON PULLOUT Just in: this market-fresh, unconfirmed grocery-store tip. “Randalls just laid off their entire Houston corporate office. Houston stores will be managed from Dallas.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Randalls Woodlake Square, 9660 Westheimer Rd.: AmREIT
THE END IN SIGHT FOR RANDALLS The Randalls grocery store on the southeast corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest is a goner, reports Catie Dixon. And she tags the chain itself as the likely next casualty in the region’s ongoing grocery wars. Landlord Weingarten Realty, which also manages the Whole Foods Market across the street, sent out notice earlier this month that the space occupied by the former top-performing Randalls in the Westchase Shopping Center is now available for lease. But other new grocery stores are coming to the area: another 60 in the next 18 months, keeping up the recent pace, says broker Jason Baker — who also notes Trader Joe’s is experiencing “challenges” with its new store on S. Voss near Woodway. [Real Estate Bisnow; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Randalls at 11041 Westheimer Rd.: Weingarten Realty
Woodlands organic shoppers: Do not let the parking garage that appears to be enveloping the new Whole Foods Market in this rendering scare you off. The press release announcing the grocery chain’s first Woodlands store declares there’ll be “ample surface parking” adjacent to the market. Whew! Construction will start on the 40,000-sq.-ft. store soon, the Woodlands Development Company announced this morning. It’ll be part of Hughes Landing, the new 66-acre office, hotel, retail, and apartment complex going in on the northeast bank of Lake Woodlands. The store will be near the intersection of Lake Front Circle and Lake Woodlands Dr., with the main entrance shown above coming off Lake Front. That likely places it in the spot marked “Grocery” in this rotated plan of the development’s southern half:
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These elevations show the Kroger Marketplace that’s under construction inside the Towne Lake master-planned community in Northwest Houston. The new 120,000-sq.-ft. grocery store, which will sell home goods, jewelry, and clothes, too, will be located in the so-called “commons area” of Towne Lake at the intersection of Barker Cypress and Tuckerton. Says Fred Caldwell, the developer of Towne Lake, about the new store: “[It] will have an architectural design similar to a Texas Hill Country look. It will be a lot different than the traditional grocery store people see.”
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Here’s a pic of the foliage and signage of the closed Wel-Farm Supermarket in Sugar Land — which, a reader reports, will soon have its hyphen removed and hyperbole reduced when it opens later this fall as the Welfresh Market. The grocery store, specializing in Asian produce, is located inside the shopping center near Dulles Ave. at 4635 Hwy. 6.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
Here’s a look at Houston’s next Trader Joe’s, set to open in Cinco Ranch sometime next year. It’ll be at 2643 Commercial Center Blvd., right in the center of all that commerce just west of the Grand Pkwy. This new 12,500-sq.-ft. store will be the 4th in the area. The last to open was the one on San Felipe and Voss in January, across the street from the Randall’s that has since been torn down to make way for a new Whole Foods.
Rendering: Trader Joe’s
Even more action in the Old Sixth Ward: A reader sends this photo of the former Bayou City Market on the corner of Henderson and Kane, which appears to have been chosen as the future location of Bun Penny Food & Wine. The reader says that the neighborhood corner store has been closed for a few years. It’s just a few blocks south of the proposed location of that new office building fronting Washington Ave.
Photo: Swamplot inbox
The Woodway store is closing, Whole Foods announced yesterday, and the grocer plans to build a new one on the site of the recently closed and approved-for-demolition Flagship Randall’s at 1407 S. Voss near San Felipe. That’s right across the street from the brand-new Trader Joe’s. A Whole Foods rep says that new store will be 40,000 sq. ft., double the size of the store at 6401 Woodway that’s been there since 1983.
Photo of Flagship Randall’s: Allyn West
It is no more: A few weeks after the rest of this old strip center on Dunlavy at W. Alabama started coming down, the Montrose Fiesta was finally reduced to rubble, this reader’s photo, taken just before 1 p.m. today, shows. And what’s next for the site? Developer Marvy Finger says he will replacing the grocery store with apartments, telling the Houston Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff in early 2012 that the ensuing complex will be both “Mediterranean” and “really beautiful.”
Photo: Thomas Stazer
COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH AN OLD GROCERY STORE “The Skaggs Albertson at Louetta and Kuykendahl is now a DPS Drivers License Center. The old Klein’s grocery store in Tomball is being turned into a Veterans Health Center. The old Walmart on 249 just south of Spring Cypress was turned into a training center for a company. The old Randalls on Jones is now a Habitat ReStore.
Another good use is for a fitness center.” [Tejas, commenting on Comment of the Day: All Emptied Out with Nothing To Do] Illustration: Lulu
COMMENT OF THE DAY: ALL EMPTIED OUT WITH NOTHING TO DO “Sooner or later all of this development will raise the question: what do you do with a grocery store once the grocery store has moved out? It’s a question that’s been grating on me for a while. The space that used to house Randall’s at the corner of Bissonnet and Fondren has been vacant for almost six years. It would be nice to get another grocery store in there — and maybe if we can redevelop and upgrade the apartments around there it’d be a viable option — but if not, what are the options? I mean, other than a charter school campus or a scary after hours nightclub? [ZAW, commenting on What Houston's Grocer Growth Might Mean for Randall's]