The End Approaches for the San Jacinto Stone Age

The general landscaping public hasn’t been able to shop at San Jacinto Stone since January 19, when the 68-year-old Heights rockyard began the process of closing for good. (Contractors, at least, have until the end of February.) Back in August, San Jacinto Stone agreed to sell its 8 acres on Yale to a retail developer; yesterday, the deal was closed by Ponderosa Land Development, who says it has plans to build a shopping center on the property just south of I-10 and just north of the Washington Heights Walmart.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

29 Comment

  • You can thank the Texas Department of Transportation for putting in the feeder roads along I-10 for all this development. TX-DOT, slowly ruining the quality of life for those not living in the suburban wasteland.

  • I will never forget the 100’s of pds of rocks i bought from them. I would go there and buy like 100lbs at a time and work with it then go back for more. It was good while it lasted.
    So long San Jacinto Stone.

  • No Jb,

    You can thank all the dang Yankees who ran off the real Heights Rats, Vatos and Artists.

    That’s the culprit.

  • I am with jgbiggs. It’s clear DXDOT doesn’t care about the neighborhoods. The lack of feeders was one of things that made the Heights unique. And also made the freeway frontage look pretty compared to the sign-cluttered retail sprawl flanking most Houston highways.

  • Hooray–more parking&shopping opportunities to come!

  • Thank you Jgbiggs!!!!! I was hoping this thread would not go more than three posts with out a good old fashioned BELLY ACHE! It really makes my day to open Swamplot and read posts from people like you. Makes me realize just how good my life is.

  • There is an opportunity for effective action by the community: load up with decorative stone and drive across the Yale St bridge. Quick, before they put in those carbon fiber thingees. Who’s with me?

  • You can thank the Texas Department of Transportation for putting in the feeder roads along I-10 for all this development. TX-DOT, slowly allowing more people to enjoy the increase in quality of life that comes with being able to afford to live in the city.


  • The Heights is underserved with retail and this is a welcome improvement, as is the new exit at Yale. Good job TXDOT and Ponderosa. Keep up the good work.

  • I miss the days of not having places to eat or shop and lousy freeway access. Where are the bums gonna hangout now that pedestrians can safely cross under I-10 at Yale and Heights? Heights to Studewood was a paradise with overgrown lots and adult video. Shame to see it go.

    But the real tragedy is that we will never see the day that a million-ton stone truck takes out the Yale Street bridge.

  • So when is the San Jacinto Stone Blowout – Everything Must Go sale gonna happen?

  • @Guy: I dare you to try to cross under I-10 during rush hour. The clowns at TxDOT never turned on the pedestrian walk signals. You just have to take a guess and hope that you can dart across the street faster than oncoming traffic if you guess wrong.

    It is becoming clear that investors do not see the inner loop as a good long term bet. Bold transformative projects like Regency Square are going in piecemeal. Huge opportunities for game changer developments have been passed up at the Archstone Memorial Apartments site and the Ainbinder/Orr/San Jacinto Stone site. Instead, we are getting the bare minimum of what the market needs today (strip mall retail, pencil box multifamily). If Houston continues to grow at its current rate over the next ten years, we will look back on these developments and wonder why we did so little with the land.

  • Interesting. After the story first broke, and SJS denying it, I went by for some sand. I asked multiple employees about plans to sell, and they were all very adamant that they were staying long term…

  • Old School, though I wish we had more projects with the type of vision that typified the development of Houston in the 1960’s and ’70’s, I don’t really see this as being real estate investor’s fault or lack of vision. What you are seeing is a tightening of lending standards by the banks after the downturn and bailouts of the banks in 2008. They are now much more careful with their money, and those big bold vision projects just aren’t getting the financing. Also, those lending decisions are now ultimately made in New York, and not at the downtown headquarters of Allied Bank or Texas Commerce Bank.

  • I bed to differ, Old School. Investors LOVE the inner loop. LOVE it. Can’t get enough of it. Billions and billions of dollars are flowing into the the redevelopment of inner loop. This trend will not stop any time soon.

    There’s a key word you to not understand though: investor. Investors want profits, not awards and accolades.

    Regency Square did not get built for one reason and one reason only: the numbers didn’t work. Boldness had nothing to do with it.

    They were ready to build until all the bids came back and realized it would actually cost a LOT more than they had planned. They redesigned and redesigned again trying to make the numbers work. They never worked. This was in the waning hours leading up to the credit freeze. After that, game over.

    They could start building if today if the numbers worked.

  • Having shopped around for stone, I can affirm there are no equivalents in at least a 50 mile radius. SJS had an outstanding selection of stone. This really sucks big time for us customers.

  • I don’t need easy access to the freeway if I live and shop in the Heights. The only thing that the I-10 frontage roads provide are more non-resident shoppers that commute from downtown to suburbia that pull over for a quick-fix in cheap Chinese plastic and prepaid cell phones.

  • #13:
    This argument seems to boil down to “Developers (Regent Squeare) aren’t doing mixed-use because developers (Ainbinder/Orr/SJS) aren’t doing mixed-use.”
    There seem to be two, mutually contradictory arguments against development in this area: (a) it’s not dense enough; and (b) traffic will be a nightmare.
    If I had to venture a guess, given the parking minimums and the logistics of laying out multi-level parking facilities, this site is probably smaller than the critical mass needed for mixed-use anyway.

  • #19: Read the post. Not my argument at all. My point is that we are not seeing the kind of big investment dollars coming into Houston to do big mixed use developments like what Regent Square is/was touted to be because Houston is seen as a boom/bust town with no promise of a long term success. Maybe too many still remember the 1980s in Texas and dare not repeat the past. Whatever the reason, it is clear that a city that is being mentioned on all these lists of accolades is getting inferior development for what the city is supposed to be (thriving, booming, modern metropolis).
    Also, there is no contradiction in the argument that I did not even make. Density, when done correctly, works to reduce traffic by giving people the option to avoid car trips. Pencil Box/Strip Mall developments will always increase traffic because people have no choice but to drive everywhere they need to go.
    BS on the parking minimums. I am so tired of hearing these lame excuses for why mixed use developments won’t work. The site is 8 acres. It is huge. You could almost fit three West Ave developments on that site. Plus, if developers really saw Houston as a great long term bet, they would have bought up all three developments (Ainbinder/Orr/San Jacinto) and built something on the scale of what Regent Square promises to be.

  • Damn, damn, damn.

  • Old School, your arguments are way over the heads of people here, who base all their beliefs on what lame Houston developers tell them to believe. Comically, the same developers who routinely build the types of projects in other cities that you are discussing. They don’t do it in Houston because they don’t have to. Our lack of zoning and our completely ineffective COH “Planning” department give them carte blanche to do the least, the cheapest, and consequently the lamest projects possible; all while receiving accolades from the local press and the Mayor’s Office for their minimal efforts. They have a great gig here, while the city becomes more and more mediocre with every groundbreaking.

  • Many props, Old School; mixed-use development should be seen as one approach to traffic management, not a creator of additional traffic congestion. I would just point out the obvious–because I’m good at that–which is, without quality mass transit, the traffic thing is always going to be a problem when you opt for more density. One goes with the other.

  • Anyone look into this Ponderosa guy? He’s yet another jakeleg lawyer turned developer.

    From the looks of his past, he’s sure to stick to us!

  • Oh joy. More crap.
    It’s ironic that now area residents now will have to travel large distances to find the stone and gravel and sand and mulch they want. So much for local businesses.

  • I’m genuinely confused. How can you support local businesses when they also decide to close and sell? Unless someone was holding a gun to SJS’s head to sell (maybe?!), I don’t see why there is so much rage towards developers.
    However, I wish that they were still open because I have a need for stone and love supporting a local business.

  • Assuming The Fresh Market is still happening, I will be pretty excited to ride my bike down the bike lane on Heights Blvd to pick up groceries. The store will prove to Houston that we don’t need enormous big box groceries for fresh produce, meat, fish, and a limited (yet quality) selection of frozen/dry goods.

  • Even if this was a large scale, mixed use development residents would still have to drive everywhere. Why? B/c the site and it’s surrounding suburban infrastructure will always be tied to the adjacent freeway access. Mixed-use works best on traditional grid systems within a quarter mile of job centers.

  • There’s a 100+ year old unoccupied house just below the stone yard overlooking the ravine in bad shape but I’ve heard the owner loves it. I wonder (fear) what will happen to it…