At last night’s meeting, representatives of the Ainbinder Company revealed the suburban-style site plan for the development centered around Yale and Koehler streets in the West End they’re calling the Washington Heights District. Among the plan’s notable features: 2 bank- or chain-restaurant-style pad sites planted on the west side of Yale St. just south of Koehler, and a couple new strip centers along Heights Blvd., each featuring a double row of parking spaces in front. A rendering of the southmost strip (above) shows it changing facade costume every few bays, following the template of a sort of mini-Wild, Wild West version of Uptown Park. These new buildings would become only the 5th and 6th strip centers on the almost-3-mile length of Heights Blvd., joining such exclusive company as the Heights Food Mart north of Center St., the cell-phone-friendly Heights Retail Center at I-10, the Pink’s Pizza and Sunny’s Food Store combo at 14th St., and that just-in-from-Austin building at 6th St. that used to house McCain’s Market — in easy-auto-access splendor.
One change from the version of the site plan leaked last month: 2 other strip centers in the project — both on Yale St. south of the main Walmart driveway — have been moved up to the street and their parking placed in back. Well, maybe the back: It isn’t clear from the renderings, but it’s likely the store entrances will move to the Walmart side as well, turning away from Yale. The development’s 5th strip center offers parking-lot views to all 3 streets it faces: Heights, Koehler, and Yale.
But the Washington Heights District promises to be so much more than just a symphony of Inner Loop strip centers. There’s also . . . the Walmart!
Plans show the 152,015-sq.-ft. tastefully brownish behemoth backed up to Bonner St., behind a 664-car surface parking lot. Nine lonely trees are shown sprinkled throughout the expanse, though the lot is bordered by rows of greenery and a delightful allée provides a corridor of shade from the perimeter drive to a phalanx of handicapped parking spaces.
The development’s new website details landscape and infrastructure upgrades the developer is promising to make — if the city comes through with a 380 agreement to pay for it. These include a slightly undulating crushed-limestone path through the Heights Blvd. median (above) which — if you cross the White Oak bridge and travel under the I-10 overpass — will connect wandering shoppers to the rest of the Heights Esplanade. Also: improvements to portions of Yale, Bonner, Koehler — and Bass St., which will extend to a new I-10 eastbound feeder road.
Though a brochure sent to area residents in support of the new Walmart a couple of weeks ago described the the location as “much in need of remediation” from previous industrial uses, the Washington Heights District website refers to the area as a “once contaminated” site.
- Public Infrastructure Improvements [Washington Heights District]
- West End Walmart coverage [Swamplot]
Images: Moody Rambin Retail