Washington Heights Walmart Companion Strip Stand-Ins: No-Names, Off-Brands, and Imports

A reader traces the provenance of some of the store and restaurant names prominently featured in some newly released renderings meant to show off the assorted new strip-center spaces Moody Rambin Retail hopes to fill near the new Walmart off Yale at Koehler St. in the West End. And finds a few not-so-fake names mixed in with the fake ones:

“Keohler Coffee” is obviously fake, or just bad spelling. But, there is actually a “La Gra Italian Tapas” in St. Louis MO (of all places). I wonder whether they are coming to Houston? And there is a “Nono’s Bistro” on the rendering which has a logo that looks just like the logo for Nino’s Bistro in Harrisburg, PA. The most mysterious of the mystery tenants might be “Krakatoa Seafood and Game”. The logo on the rendering is just like the logo on this logo designer‘s website. But, I cannot find a restaurant anywhere that resembles the logo.


Our eagle-eyed reader counts some nice vehicles in the parking lot, too: “Lexus, Porche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Mini Cooper, Harley–or perhaps a Harley compatible, and a Saturn (probably the help getting some yogurt for the kids at Yogurt World).” Also in this latest version of the Washington Heights District website: fewer references to the development’s anchor tenant, just across the parking lot:

Images: The Ainbinder Company

74 Comment

  • I have no skin in this game as I don’t live in the area. I do have an observation/question:

    Of all the WalMarts in the United States, I would be curious to see how many share a parking lot with a wine bar (with outdoor patio space)?

    That strikes me as awfully ambitious, but you never know.

  • Do they really think people are going to use the ‘park’ area in the median on Heights? A leisurely stroll after a fantastic shopping experience and Krakatoan Seafood. LOL! I ride my bike past this gloomy construction site every day and I have a pretty good feeling that this whole thing is just going to suck bollocks.

  • Good thing “Olivander’s Wands” is copyrighted. I take it there is where the everyday neighborhood consumer will park when they walk to Wal-Mart.

  • Isn’t there an architect out there who can come up with a more creative design? This looks like every new strip center built along I-10, Eldridge Pkwy.,on and on.

  • great. This looks exactly like every other shopping complex in the suburbs.

    Just a thought.. how many empty stip malls do we have in the city?

  • For those with hoopties/beaters, there is no space for you here.

  • I think its missing something. Ah yes..the sign for La Douchebaguette French Bakery.

  • Wow, the bitterness is just seething in the descriptions… bitter much?

  • Good looking center. Hope it does well.

  • I guess the only thing to say is, “It could have been worse…but it could have been a whole lot better.”

  • They should just admit it that the only things that go in next to Walmarts are the worst kinds of chain restaurants. We are way more likely to see an Olive Garden, Hooters, and Starbucks within these spaces than something unique. And instead of a wine bar (an overplayed concept) sharing that parking lot, we will probably end up with a dialysis clinic.

    Who in their right mind would want to sip chardonnay while smelling the fumes from some RV parked in the Walmart parking lot?

  • I just hope they have room for yet another Sally’s Beauty Supply and a Subway next door. Oooooowwwwwww, I’m all a tingle. . .

  • I think it hilarious that the artist renderings feature expensive European sports cars. People have repeatedly been called elitist (or “effete”, my favorite by the way) for opposing the Walmart, but it turns out my suspicion was right all along- Walmart is catering to the very elitists who don’t want to shop there. Organic grapes, anyone?

  • This is a great example is the disaparity going on with the recovery in the Houston market – we wrote our thoughts on the different recoveries in different areas here –

  • @sally01:

    Yes, I’m sure there is. But if the developer doesn’t want a more creative design, then he doesn’t hire that architect.

  • #5/Luis – There are lots of vacant spots at strip malls all over Houston, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the demand inside the loop. Lots of stuff inside the loop is doing great while outter areas struggle.

  • Is this Katy or inner loop Houston? Just another ugly tacky suburban strip mall center in the middle of an improving urban environment. Why can’t these developers think outside the box. Everything has to be cheap cheap cheap. Why is that Washington DC can propose urban Wal-Marts in the middle of their urban city but Houston can’t? Just a joke.

  • I also love how the stores face in to the massive parking lot, so that commuters going up and down Yale get to look at their loading docks and dumpsters. This project just keeps getting worse. When there are so many successful projects going on around the city (West Ave, City Centre), I hope Ainbinder likes having this piece of crap as his legacy.

  • Only one problem remains…Wal-Mart.

  • Hopefully, the placement of the Starbucks is geographically correct, as everyone knows Krakatoa is East of Java.

  • I don’t know… in El Paso (with a dearth of grocery stores selling fresh produce, as it has to be trucked in from far away… the local soil is full of lead, as well as being a desert), WalMart stocked really quite good organic produce. Haven’t looked here, as I’m in the Montrose and there’s no call to drive far away.

    Of course, in places (i.e. unlike dead-body-in-parked-car MeyerPark WalMart) where WalMart’s not in an atrocious part of town (try Austin, at the 290/35 interchange, where the WalMart’s actually got a lovely wooded parking lot), it does tend to draw the luxury-car drivers. My grandmother (Mercedes driver) will gladly tell you that they made their money by buying wisely (she loves TJMaxx), so they can have extra for things like a nice car. The 99-cents-only store chain was actually set up along that premise – they put the stores in nicer parts of town rather than slums, finding that the parking lots were full of import-drivers who know the value of a good deal.

    Then again, the snobs won’t want to believe me… I only taught economics, must not know anything, everyone knows the truth is that WalMart is evil and draws (gasp!) Black People (Sally’s Beauty Supply comment above, anyone?) and other riff-raff to our snooty neighborhoods…

  • To the Heights Life – Don’t kid yourself into thinking West Ave and City Centre are a huge success. Both developers took a beating during the construction process, at the end of hte day, all they have are bars and restaurants, very little retail tenant, unless you can afford Tootsies.

  • I really think everyone needs to hold their judgement of how WalMart operates new stores. I have been a loyal HEB shopper for years and was shocked when I toured the new WalMart and I-10 and Silber. The store is very well designed, good lighting, wonderful produce and very helpful people. When I actually compared my bill to HEB I was shocked to see that i saved an average of 12%, that adds up folks. Sure as I was loading my groceries into my Jaguar, i did notice a old clucker of a car next to me, but who cares, maybe their car is paid for when mine is not. Breathe deeply people, the world will not end when WalMart opens, you might even enjoy it. Oh and by the way, is that the Gallery Furniture truck pulling up to your faux Victorian historic home!!!!

  • Janice is correct.

  • @janice: Both City Centre and West Ave are already planning expansion. I wish I had the chance to take such a “beating”.

    @Adrianne: You must have taught economics, because only an economist would be so shut off from reality as to believe that Walmart will attract so many rich folks that the rest of the strip center will fill with posh tapas bars and independent coffee houses. Yeah, there may be a couple of quirky Warren Buffet types who go cheap on everything. But if they are so cheap as to go to Walmart, they certainly aren’t going to be putting out $150 at an Italian bistro.

    The idea that this will be Highland Village II is laughable. In addition to Walmart, the parking lot will fill every evening with people looking for free parking for Washington Ave. They will come back boozed up and gnarly to fight, pee, barf and screw (not necessarily in that order) in the Walmart parking lot, only to find themselves mixing it up with the meth-heads coming out at 3 am to get their sugar fix at Walmart. At least that is a mixed use of sorts.

  • West Ave. doesn’t just have “bars and restaurants”, it has residences, structured parking and active, succesful existing and incoming tenants. That developer has created a mixed-use development that will generate high tax revenues for the COH. That’s a success. This “Washington Heights” Walmart Giganticenter is a turd of the highest order.

  • Heights/Wal-Mart = the most commented story every time. Funny the number of comments slamming the design and calling it suburban. I thought the same thing last time I was on Washington but somehow that is different?

  • City Centre is getting a chunk of change from their office tenants as well – not sure how the upscale apartments and lofts are doing, but they’re building more brownstones. They’re a little different in that they’re right next door to Town & Country Village which has a Randall’s, Walgreen’s, Bath & Body Works and a number of other mid/upper-priced stores so they can concentrate on being more entertainment based – in fact, I’ll be on the way there momentarily to meet a friend for dinner and a 7 PM showing of Harry Potter. :D

  • City Centre has a good number of retailers, including Sur La Table and Anthropologie, both of which rarely open 2 stores in a market. While I’m certain that the economy has made all new development a struggle, these places are pulling in higher end tenants and they actually have tenants. All Ainbinder has right now is a crappy Walmart. They have approached national chains like REI and local businesses like Goode Co and no one wants a part of their craptastic project. This might not even be able to bring in some of the usual WM partners in crime like GNC or Sally b/c they both just put in new stores right up the road next to Kroger.

  • The new Whitey Walmart on Silber is awesome. And yes, there are Range Rovers and Mercedes in the parking lot on a regular basis. Don’t believe me? Go look. You’d be surprised how many wealthy people became so by being frugal…….

  • Like my grandmother said, you can’t please everyone.

    Let’s not forget that we live in a capitistic society (at least until what’s his name in Washington takes us over the cliff)and that property sat vacant for many many years, I don’t recall anyone from the heights so worried about the polluted condition it was in. Development is a risk reward business, he took a chance, and he deserves the reward. See you at the tapas bar drinking $15 wine over looking walmart. At least I won’t have far to go, I might even ride my bike.

  • @Adrianne: I guess when you live in El Paso, your only source of organic food is Walmart, this is Houston darling, don’t get confused.
    @Janice: Opposing a corporation like Walmart is not only about ugly stores and snobs, it’s about taking responsibility on where you spend your money and how those corporations operate and treat their employees. A concept that may be hard to grasp for a poser who drives a jag eats hamburger helper for dinner. I rather drive a cheaper car and spend my money on good food from socially reponsible stores.

  • @ Old School: I”m sure Enron and Lehman brothers were “planning” a bunch of expansion too. Not saying they won’t and that the development is not a success in some regards, but your comment is pretty hollow.
    @AW Height: Do you know the revenues generated by West Ave? Do you know the revenues projected for Walmart and the surrounding retail? Just curious. If so, can you share them with us, i’d like to see them to compare sales tax revenues due to the city.

  • @cross – no, Douchington Avenue really isn’t that much different in places – then again, it also didn’t spring full from the ground like a mushroom out of a cow pie.

  • To Aracne 63 – I am no posser and I certainly don’t eat Hamburger Helper,,,but it does make me feel good to pay .33 for a avacado instead of $1.00 at whole foods, and they probably come from the same place. You never know, I may be your neighbor, don’t you live in the fake vicotrian revival down the street?

  • @Acarcne63: Your tone is irritating. So, people can’t have free will? They need you to tell them what is right and what is wrong, and who they should work for, and how they should be treated? Jesus, your arrogance is outstanding. I bet mirrors shatter from your sheer awesomeness when you walk by. Thanks, but no thanks. If the employees at Walmart are so mistreated, then they should quit. I’m so sick of people like you thinking someone put you in charge. Worry about yourself. We’re all grown adults and the reason we live in the Unites States of America used to be for the damn freedom it afforded us. Now the government and people you elect want to tell us all how to run our lives,and I’s sick of it. So are a lot of people.

  • @SFP: if you are saying that West Ave and City Centre are on the verge of economic catastrophy, please share the basis for your assertion. Otherwise, your comment is very, very hollow.
    @Janice: watch yourself on that bike ride. Assuming you are coming from the north, you will have to cross six lanes of feeder road only to then have the fun of slaloming Walmart’s 18 wheelers as they wind down Heights to Koehler to avoid the load zoned Yale St. bridge.
    If big box anchored strip malls are such a draw for high end restaurants and boutiques, where are the Tapas bars at the Sawyer Heights Target development? Last I saw, the only au jus I could find there was at Arby’s. And they still have six pads that have never been leased after many years.
    As for your capitalistic society, isn’t it socialism to give a developer a 6 mil tax subsidy?

  • The City is giving the developer tax incentives to build this piece of junk. It’s going to be a long time before this future failure generates anything but headaches, if ever.

  • Janice, Get a grip. The Silber WalMart is like every other – mediocre everything. You give yourself away as a ringer if you are seriously claiming that the food selections at WalMart are better then HEB. Are you crazy? I don’t shop at WalMart for a variety of reasons, but we went to the Silber store to spend the $5 gift card they sent. We toured the entire store. It looks “ok”, but why shouldn’t it – it’s brand new. It may be a dirty, disorganized dump like most WalMart’s within a year. As for the produce, meats, and other fresh food; give me a break. It took us ten minutes to find a package of strawberries that didn’t have moldy or rotten ones in the mix. Every thing else was below par and far below the quality of HEB. If you eat nothing but processed, pre-cooked,and packaged meals, perhaps this is your kind of place. We don’t, and have no use for the “specials” and “sales” on all that junk. We noticed no significantly lower prices on the foods we buy, only significantly lower quality, and vastly fewer selections. WalMart, obviously, is the perfect store for millions of people, but not for all of us. I wish people would stop trying to shove this single retailer down our throats and disparaging those who simply don’t want to shop there. Why do you WalMart snobs care so much?

  • None of this (Walmart related development) would have happened if TXDOT had not begun creating feeder roads on I-10. This Walmart is not for the “neighborhood,” but for all those suburban commuters to pull off the freeway, purchase cheap plastic made in China, and scurry like cockroaches to their 4/3.5 swakienda in Katy.

  • Just wondering if Janice is the same one who works for the politician who brought us the Wal-Mart? Complaining about faux Victorians and liking Wal-Mart…can there really be two of you named Janice in the Heights?

  • I thought Heights folks were just wacko about preserving their neighborhood full of the outdated, obsolete, termite infested shacks they call homes. Who knew they had a soft spot for preserving run down apartment complexes and decrepit industrial facilities too?

    The Heights has existed next to this crap for 50+ years and no one ever paid it any mind. Now a Walmart and some strip retail are going to ruin the neighborhood? Give me a break.

  • Just so I’m clear on the Heights party line…

    When a developer comes in and redevelops an in fill site with a big box store and strip retail all the folks in the Heights decry the project’s unoriginal and suburban design, but when a developer wants to build townhouses and condos or anything even remotely dense or urban in the Heights, then we all supposed to blast him for altering the suburban character of our neighborhood?

  • The true disappointment here is not only the lack of creativity, but the lack of compassion for a community at large that obviously are against the walmart and all the unwanted business it subsequently brings. Washington Ave is not much better, but this is hands down droll and just a brick in the wall that is becoming another homogenized city. Houston has already lost so many of its historical places and landmarks that make/made it unique. With a plan like this, you could literally stand in the parking lot, look around and be in ‘Any City’, USA. Who wants to live in a place where everything looks the same and the experiences are all the same? I am not personally a fan of the faux Victorian’s but at least they have some personality, no?

    There is absolutely, no risk here that should be rewarded…The community spoke, and no one listened…”who cares” what the people who live here want, there is money to be made. Ok, thats that, but to add insult to injury, they obviously didn’t try very hard to actually design something of visual appeal or value to a community the cares deeply about trying to preserve the historical nature or quirky flavor of its neighborhood. It makes my heart sink.

    Same old story…

  • Janice – the tapas bar is fake. There is no fish and game restaurant either.

  • What is it you people don’t understand? Just because you don’t like Wal-Mart, tacky townhomes, faux victorians, etc….
    and say the community doesn’t want that blah blah blah or we don’t need another blah blah blah, just remember that Houston IS NOT ZONED.
    You don’t have a choice. I’m not saying that I don’t wish some things were different but until
    you buy up the land, the decripit bungalow, etc…..and build what YOU want to see, quit complaining or move to The Woodlands where everything is controlled. I’m with Bernard on the miltancy of you Heights residents that think your 1920s tract homes are all that and more. Some of them are cute and many of them are dumps. If you want everything to stay the same and decay, move to New Orleans.

  • Boy Janice is a real poser huh? And the guy in Waaashington driving us over the cliff??? He left 2 years ago and lives in Dallas. Get your facts straight or shut the hell up.

  • JT,
    What? Houston doesn’t have zoning? Since when? OMG???? What a shock. And, if I don’t like it, I should move to the Woodlands? What an original idea. I’ve NEVER read that on these boards before. Ever.

  • “Now the government and people you elect want to tell us all how to run our lives,and I’s sick of it. So are a lot of people.”

    SFP – Thanks for making me laugh!

  • Bernard and JT,there is a VERY small but very vocal group in the Heights that do not want ANY development. They want to live in a community as it was in the 1950’s. I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart, don’t shop there but am fine with the rest and don’t really care if it is a Wal-Mart or any other anchor business. But this little militant group over here (and really, its about 35-40 people) think they can push around everyone and get their way. They are divided a bit because one of the ring leaders works direclty for Parker and she was 100% behind the Wal-Mart. This group is all over the web blogs, Facebook etc., but most of the Heights residents are pretty great. The vocal, and quite crazy, minority just make it seem like the Heights is militant. Most of us have a live and let live attitude. But we do have the catbirds who lament about days gone by, old crappy houses that were falling down calling them historic and landmark and tug on the heartstings of those who appreciate history and don’t know the difference between an old house and a historic one, and there you have it. For years they chased off every business that wanted to come to the Heights and they no longer have any ability to do so. Their worst nightmare is Wal-Mart.

  • I do think it was funny that the news interviewed the people in the apartment complex about Wal Mart. They were all like, “I can’t wait to shop at Wal Mart!” 2 months later they demolished the whole apartment complex. Looks like they are not around to shop at the new store.

  • Hey, you Swamplot editors can’t fool me. I know what you’re doing. You post a couple of Heights articles and sit back and watch the cackling hens and stroller nazis drive your page counts through the roof! Well, I’m onto you. I’m not going to help you out by making fun of the ‘enlightened ones’, whose automobiles only emit fragrant jasmine, and whose shopping tastes confirm their high moral, ethical, and conservationist character. No sirree! I’m just going to sit here patiently and wait for that new Walmart to open, so I can buy my mac-n-cheese at any hour of the day or night.

    Oh, I also plan to buy my cheap plastic lawn ornaments there to pretty up my ‘historic’ house. (I’m still pissed that they stopped making those plastic pink flamingos.)

  • Friends don’t let friends shop at China-Mart…aka Wal-Mart.

    The design would suit Sugarland. A total miss, lack of respect, and disregard for the Heights, however.

  • This is laughable. New marketing for a project over a year old. Obviously, the tenants are pouring in to get in line for all the business generated by Walmart. I’m taking the under on businesses that will interest me at this project. Oh yeah, the number to beat is 1. Not a chance! With all the time and money spent on the misleading website, they could have made a downpayment to fix the Yale Street Bridge.

  • Cato’s

    It’s Fashion

    Always located by a Wal-Marts.
    The people who shop here are about 3-5 times the size of the models on the websites. Very misleading…

  • LOL at Janice. In the same thread she is schooling us all about how shopping at Wal-Mart is smart because you can save some cash, she reminds us repeatedly that she drives a Jaguar! So, you spent a lot of money for a car, that depending upon the age of the vehicle, is either a Ford or a Tata? Yeah, you’re exactly who I want giving me advice on smart shopping!

  • James Chapman said:

    “The design would suit Sugarland. A total miss, lack of respect, and disregard for the Heights, however.”


    Looks better than what they built in the Target shopping center. Face it. If there was a Whole Foods behind it, you’d be marveling at how well they captured the essence of the Heights. But, consider the location. It is not in the Heights. It is next to a set of railroad tracks and adjacent to hundreds of apartments and contemporary townhomes. It does no disrespect to its immediate surroundings whatsoever.

    None of the critics EVER mention the IMMEDIATE surroundings. They only mention the Heights, since it is pretty much impossible to have a lack of respect or regard for a neighborhood full of townhomes. In fact, evry supporter of the historic ordinance mentioned these very same townhomes as a reason to support the ordinance! Faux outrage. My favorite kind.

  • May I just point out that there are not “six lanes of feeder roads” to cross on Heights. Honestly, does anyone commenting on this thread even drive through the neighborhood????

    I guess not, because if they did, then they would be commenting not on the (unsurprisingly boring and beige) design of the strip mall, but the fact that there are TWO mostly empty strip malls within 1/2 mile of this thing. Is a Wal-Mart really going to ensure occupancy of anything other than a check cashing place and another mattress store?

  • Man. This is straight trash. Wal-Mart is nothing but chinese garbage. Basically Obama-Mart. Ruined our damn country. Sam Walton would puke if he saw wal-mart today. They should start selling coon dick toothpicks. Then we’d have something.


  • Yea, what BoarCoon said.

    Those toothpicks would be a good seller, as long as they were a “Made in the USA” brand.

  • Conspicuous consumption and the gaul to brag about it, classy..

  • That’s awesome that some folks on here are excited about a development on this land. In fact, I think EVERYONE is excited about a development there (yes, even the Heights militants).
    But who would want such a trite development that is anchored by a 24-hour, 150,000sqft behemoth when it doesn’t have to be? (And I don’t care what sign is on a store of that size. Nothing like that suits this area.)
    And, my God… The TRAFFIC!!! I shudder.
    Credentials: 2000 VW. 112 year-old bungalow. 15 years live/work in the Heights. Do I make the cut?

  • So much hand-wringing over a store! Washington Avenue’s already peaking, and will be full of boarded up resturants and bars in a couple of years. The Heights will one day be covered in badly built townhomes, just like here in Rice Military.

    All that will remain is Wal-Mart.

    It’s just the way it is. Nobody or nothing can stop it.

  • Given that the 130,000sq.ft Target down the street is perpetually busy I would say that the community has already pretty clearly shown that large big box retail is acceptable in this area. Having said that I do wish they would make the strip centers show a better face to Yale.

  • RiceMilitaryBoy, that by far is the stupidest comment on this thread. The influx of people to the central and near-north area is going strong. All that development is going to continue, particularly because the cost of oil/gas isn’t going to go down significantly. The inner loop is booming, or haven’t you heard? New shopping and restaurants will continue to come into the area to accomodate all the new folks. The Heights and West End had zero commercial and it is catching up, as it always does. You build it, they will come and in this case, much new housing was built and now the commercial is coming, no end in sight!

    And that is just the way it is. Nobody or nothing can stop it. Peaking, puh-leese!

  • @Janice – I remember shopping at the Walmart at Dunvale at Westheimer when it was brand new and shiny, just like the one at Silber. It took less than a decade for it to dissolve into it’s current state. Gross during the day, overcrowded, and too frightening to visit after dark. Your Jaguar and your bicycle rides would not blend there today.

    While I hope that’s not the fate of the new one on Yale, it seems an inevitable pattern… and one that Walmart doesn’t seem interested in cleaning up.

  • I’ve never seen such a bitter, negative group of people as most of the commenters here are. Pathetic.

  • The one on Dunvale was my one and only Walmart experience some years ago. I needed Sudafed before meeting some friends at the movies, but there was a free-range toddler with her pants down doing her business in the decongestant aisle. That was enough for me.

  • That’s a pretty bitter and negative thing to say

  • Thank you, Nancy!

  • Jeez, Nancy, don’t read the comments if you don’t like them!

    For the record, CITYCENTRE is doing quite well. Expansion plans are not “in the works,” rather, they’ve broken ground on a 3rd and 4th office tower building (1 building, 2 towers). An 11,000 square foot flagship Urban Outfitters just opened, Olive & Vine is awesome (locally-owned specialty foods shop), Elaine Turner just opened, etc. So there is more retail moving in all the time. They’re at 100% office capacity, 94% residential rental capacity, and something like 70% restaurant/retail capacity. I would consider that a success. And before anyone starts hating, I also consider the Heights Wal-Mart an ugly disaster, so I’m normally not into that sort of thing. CITYCENTRE is an exception for me. I didn’t want to like it, but I totally like it.

  • what I don’t get there is a target across the way. i just built 500k home in the heights do u think I wanna step on a McDonald bag when I get out of my bmw? no one likes a walmart bc it brings trash but at the same time we all love to shop there. bottom line the heights has nothing hopefully it will bring a beer bar like whole foods!!!!

  • @Nancy Goff
    I love reading the swamplot comments! Its pretty much tongue in cheek humor that goes right over your head or are you just a nay-sayer wet blanket type of person that’s always grumpy? You go be happy and have that glass (or bottle) of wine at the new soon to be wine bar next to the soon to be new Walmart. Better hurry, as we all know in a short time all Walmarts smell like cat pee and french fries!

  • I’ve never seen such a bitter, negative group of people as most of the commenters here are. Pathetic.


    Couldn’t your comment be considered bitter and negative? Welcome to the club Nancy, we’re glad to have you!