08/11/16 4:00pm

YES, THE HEIGHTS DRY ZONE PETITIONERS REALLY DID COLLECT ENOUGH SIGNATURES FOR A VOTE TABC regional headquarters in Heights Medical Tower, 427 West 20th Street, Suite 600 Houston Heights, Houston, 77008Tuesday’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 SwamplotPhoto of TABC regional headquarters at 427 W. 20th St.: LoopNet

08/08/16 10:45am

Seiwa Market in Ashford Village Center, 1801 S. Dairy Ashford Rd., Westchase, Houston, 77077

The credit card machines at the new Seiwa Market at 1801 S. Dairy Ashford Rd. weren’t up and running yet as of Friday, but the Japanese grocery store did open its doors this weekend to cash-only customers as part of a test run soft opening. The market and its internal food court options will eventually be flanked by other Japanese restaurants, from the looks of things: Ramen House Ichi is currently under construction next door, and the Seiwa store manager told the HBJ last month that a high-end Japanese seafood house is planned for the same shopping center somewhere on the other side.

A reader snagged a few shots of the scene inside Seiwa’s space in Suite 116 of the late 1970s Ashford Village Center shopping strip, across from the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink:


Sushi To Come
06/10/16 12:30pm

Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

The flags have been lowered in front of the former N. Shepherd home of Fiesta Mart, now several days along on its journey toward pre-redevelopment flatness. A reader sends more photos of the action from yesterday afternoon, showing the demolition team munching its way east through the building:


Heights Dry Zone
06/09/16 4:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A FINAL DESPERATE CRY FOR DEMOLITION PARITY IN THE HEIGHTS Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008“The smashing has begun! Heavy machinery is on site, and the bricks are crumbling down. Where are the Friends of Heights Fiesta? Aren’t these bricks special enough to be saved???” [North Heights, commenting on Former Fiesta Site Preps for Teardown as Heights Dry Zone Petitioners Circle] Photo of demolition at 2300 N. Shepherd: Steven Byrne

06/09/16 10:30am

Demolition of Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Hobbyist demolition spotter Steven Byrne sends portraits of the end of the former Fiesta Mart at the corner of N. Shepherd and W. 23rd St. Byrne snapped these shots of the teardown action yesterday afternoon (right after the structure’s demo permit was issued), though there’s plenty more building left to rip apart today. The excavators at the site appear to belong to Cherry Demolition, which recently wrapped up the sometimes-slow sometimes-unsettlingly-fast takedown of the Corporate Plaza complex at Kirby Dr. and 59.

The Fiesta opened in the space in the mid-1970s and shut down in March. Here’s a few more closeups of the scene for further grocery-minded contemplation:


Heights Dry Zone
06/06/16 10:30am

Former Fiesta Mart, 2300 N. Shepherd, Houston Heights, Houston, 77008

Fiesta at 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., Houston Heights, Houston, 77008The 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.


Cleanup on 23rd
05/31/16 3:45pm

Bissonnet at Beechnut streets, Robindell, Houston, 77074

Just in time for Thursday’s Aldi opening in a former strip center in Robindell, a reader sends photos of the newly de-limbed oaks along the edge of the grocery store’s new parking lot (looking along Bissonnet St. northeast from the intersection with Beechnut). Area residents on NextDoor claim the hacking occurred early Sunday morning, noting also that some fresh baby trees have been planted along the same stretch of road. Here’s another view down the same sidewalk, catching both the saplings and the stumps:


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.


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?”


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.