West Ave-Style Apartments and Retail Planned for Dunlavy Fiesta Site?

Survey stakes have gone up around the Montrose Fiesta Market on the southeast corner of Dunlavy and West Alabama, directly across the street from the brand-new H-E-B Montrose Market.

What could that mean? A source who is not a party to the transaction claims that the survey is connected to a sale of the property, which is already under contract for “‘crazy money’ — something on the scale of $85-$90 SF”:

The reputed use will be for a 6 to 7 story multi-use development — something on the order of West Ave or the Read-King chimera promised for the SWC of Alabama and Shepherd. . . . Personally, I find the land purchase price to be pretty hard to believe . . . because market value of land in that area is $40 – $50 max or maybe $60 at a stretch. Fiesta’s lease expires in 2014 with no renewal and either they or the owner has an early out option. The other tenants in the center all have short lease terms with no renewal.


Those other tenants in the Wilshire Village Shopping Center: Boxwood Interiors, Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy, EcoCleaners, and the Best Little Barber Shop in Texas.

Survey stakes up behind Fiesta and those stores (like the one shown here on Branard St.) suggest that a new owner of the property might want to open that street and Sul Ross, which also dead-ends into the property, for driveway or drive-through access.

The shopping center was built at 3803 Dunlavy St. in 1962. If apartments are built on the property, it would mark a reversal of the apartments-across-from-a-grocery-store layout that existed on the two properties on either side of Dunlavy until the Wilshire Village Apartments were torn down 2 years ago to make way for the Montrose H-E-B.

Photos: Candace Garcia

62 Comment

  • unlike the southampton crowd, i think you’ll find this neighborhood to be more willing to work with future developers and help increase houston’s tax base to help provide better infrastructure for the entire city.

    let’s thank the montrose folks for being good neighbors and helping put the city first to provide a better future for all of us.

  • For anyone who lives or has lived in that area, the Fiesta was a quirky perk of the local community. It has a unique selection of goods, given it was a Fiesta, the produce was always pretty good and the meat cheap. I always loved walking down the aisle with all the Brit goods. They also had frozen Indian tv dinners a good buck or two cheaper than Central Market and Whole Foods. I’ve never been as attached to a grocery store before or since.

  • Told Ya!!!

  • It will be a sad day when Fiesta closes. It is a great neighborhood store

  • ‘crazy money’ — something on the scale of $85-$90 SF”. Personally, I find the land purchase price to be pretty hard to believe because market value of land in that area is $40 – $50 max or maybe $60 at a stretch”
    Totally disagree. $50/SF is gone. $75/SF is the new norm.

  • Seems like a logical progression. I have noted that the draw to the HEB has not been as it was with Whole Foods, wonder if the area is finally reaching full saturation point as it related to area grocers. As it is, not sure who is filling all these mixed use apartments/shops in the loop.

  • I LOVE it!!!!!!!!

  • @ Cody …. “Totally disagree. $50/SF is gone. $75/SF is the new norm.”

    What exactly are you basing this on??

  • I love the Fiesta and the Eco Cleaners! Definitely Montrose won’t be the same without the quirky Fiesta.

  • HEB finally got it going. With HEB in place, more developments like this will come into the neighborhood. The 1600 block of West Main doesn’t have minimum lot size so Town Home development can remove the run down structures and replace them with nice new buildings, like the old Wilshire Village. We can thank people like David Robinson for helping get HEB going for pro-development within Montrose. – It’s all going to change.

  • Damn! Best prices on wine in town too.. 2007 Becker Prairie Rotie for $12.99 heck yeah.. Doesn’t hurt that’s it’s from my bosses vineyard either.. :)

  • It seems like this lot could certainly handle more than 6 or 7 stories. This would be a better location for the dreaded Ashby highrise or something like that.

    I agree with montrose slums, HEB is going to open the door. We are going to see a lot of change in the next few years.

    I know it’s a good thing, but still kind of sad to see the old hood go.

  • Dunlavy and West Alabama would need to be expanded to make this work. Dedicated turn lanes and arrows will be needed to absorb the HEB traffic alone. The effect of the HEB on traffic at Dunlavy and Westheimer is already apparent. The lines of cars going straight on Dunlavy headed to or from HEB are making left turns onto Westheimer much more difficult.

    Traffic aside, I think mixed use here would be awesome. I am not sure we need 8 floors of apaprtments though. This isn’t the intersection of Kirby and Westheimer. Something more like West Village in Dallas which has density in 4 floors but doesn’t overwhelm.

  • I’m going to be buying property in da hood !!!

  • If the Fiesta closes, and the HEB can’t get a liquor license, where will local folks go to buy beer and wine?

  • I hope they don’t go all Allen House on the Fiesta. While not quite as ambitious as the forever stalled Regent Square, this development does sound like a pretty big roll of the dice. I just hope they can get the job done and don’t leave prime real estate sitting vacant for years.

  • Spec’s … just like everyone else

  • there goes the fucking neighborhood.

  • So Sad. I hope this is not true. I love this Fiesta. No cookie cutter store here. It is just so neighborhoody and the music just makes me want to dance! Say it isn’t so.

  • I will miss that Fiesta..the sign, the music, the wine prices…sniff.

  • And don’t forget to thank the local civic association in the neighborhood; they were instrumental in paving the way for this building. They supported HEB throughout the development and are big supporters of their development. They may be the most important group in getting developers into this area.

  • I would expect this neighborhood to follow the lead of our neighbors in Southampton and push back hard and fast on a 6-7 story building.

  • cm=corey: “2007 Becker Prairie Rotie for $12.99 heck yeah.. Doesn’t hurt that’s it’s from my bosses vineyard either.. :)”
    Seriously? We (my wife and I) love becker. We go up there all the time (went last weekend) and are wine club members. Our friends are getting married on the grounds there next year.
    Small world…

  • LandGuy: “What exactly are you basing this on??”
    I buy and sell a lot of commercial property in the Montrose area. On average about 1 a month. Almost every deal I analyze factors in the PSF on the land both in terms of a minimum I’d sell for and a maximum I’d pay.
    While empty land alone isn’t my gig, using land value as a consideration for purchases and sales is. I’d never claim to be an expert but I’ve put enough of my own money where my mouth is to assume I know a little bit…

  • if they change the current configuration of Sul Ross and Branard (dead-ends behind Fiesta) to be drive-thru streets into whatever gets built there, that will really suck for the homeowners on those dead-ends…they have enjoyed wonderful peace and quiet for many years.

  • Aawwwww, crap. More shiny people in Montrose?

    Will our near-town nausea never end?

  • That would be indeed sad if that Fiesta store goes. That store is proof that you don’t have to be a huge food store to have great selection. By the way, I visited the new HEB store last night. While it is a nice store, it wasn’t very impressive….Central Market it ain’t. About on par with a Randalls or Krogers, albeit with more organic selections. But not a very good selection of frozen Indian foods — mostly “gringo” stuff if you know what I Mean.

  • “From RC:

    I would expect this neighborhood to follow the lead of our neighbors in Southampton and push back hard and fast on a 6-7 story building. ”

    You are so wrong. The local association fought hard and fast to get HEB into the neighborhood at the cost of the immediate neighbors. They love development and will push hard and fast to demolish the buildings and put in a mid rise. Check out PROHEBMONTROSE if you don’t believe it to be true.

  • By the way, I’ve wondered why HEB selected this area for the new store with so many food stores already around. It should have look at other areas like Washington Corridor or Rice Military — these areas have a TON Of new developments and yet no decent grocery store. That was why I crossed these areas out while house-hunting several years ago.

  • ” From RC:
    I would expect this neighborhood to follow the lead of our neighbors in Southampton and push back hard and fast on a 6-7 story building.”

    And RC, people living in this area have no money to fight anything and are mainly a social group, not a mean neighborhood association. Southampton collected more than 100K to fight Ashby High Rise. This group might raise 1K for an ice cream social.

  • ” From UG:
    if they change the current dead-ends…they have enjoyed wonderful peace and quiet for many years.”

    Well they should have thought about that during the HEB development. Instead they were helping HEB clearing the path for this development. They certainly didn’t go fighting for the neighbors that live along the HEB border. These people gave the green light for development in the area, and it’s coming, HARD and FAST.

  • What happened to “traffic impact studies” and “driveway ordinances” or do those only apply to anything built too close to Southampton?

  • Don’t expect the Lancaster Place neighborhood association to support this. They were VERY supportive of Southampton’s efforts to block Ashby Highrise. There was no discussion amongst the membership as to whether or not to support, the leaders of the association decided on their own they would support the Ashby opposition group. All Lancaster Place cares about is stopping the development of townhouses and will do anything, including lie, to get the residents to support them. I doubt they could raise $1000 given that their membership is less than 100 at $40/house. There will be no real rise in real estate prices in that neighborhood until the Foteh family is dealt with and we all know the City of Houston isn’t handling that situation well.

  • EKMMG: what would you like the city to do with that families private property? (I don’t know them and am not trying to defend them)
    If they have properties you or others don’t like, you do realize they would be willing to sell right? Ask yourself why no one will buy those buildings. I know the answer – at least in my case – but no need to say the same thing for the 100th time

  • Agree. The Lancaster Place Civic Association will not fight against this since they supported the HEB development. The president published a website, PROHEBMONTROSE,to demonstrate support for HEB even though it devalued property values in the neighborhood. They have an excellent track record for supporting development. Not one person from the association contributed a single dollar to the Stop Ashby High Rise organization. When it comes to development, they will sell of their neighbors in a minute. They have a track record. Viva PROHEBMONTROSE.

  • Traffic nightmare…if Houston wants to provide dense living then provide or encourage more public transportation.

    Like the HEB but also like the Fiesta.

  • Those stakes aren’t new, they’re leftovers…

  • Cody:

    I am not questioning your credibility but I just don’t think it is fair to make a statement that “$75 PSF is the new norm”. I am in a commercial brokerage and development business with a substantial focus on land and redevelopment of retail/office properties and we’re heavily involved inside the loop. In my opinion there is no such thing as “the norm” in today’s market even in highly competitive submarkets. For example, there have been multiple sales in the Galleria/Highland Village/Richmon Ave. submarkets in the past year ….. all substantially different values.

    Today, when I analyze the value of the property I look at who the end-user is which in turn will dictate what the property is worth and what someone can pay. For example, I know that a retail developer can generally pay X for a property and a mid-rise developer will pay a lot more. It is all rent driven.

    I pay no attention to the sales comps as they are meaningless in today’s market. I’ve been involved in transactions where we’ve gotten multiple appraisals of the same property with substantially different values.

    We took a look at this deal and based on what we wanted to do our level of interest was at around $60 PSF. We never made an offer because the seller was negotiating 2 other offers both north of $85 PSF. That’s why there has to be a residential component to this project otherwise it does not work at those numbers as your retail rents will not support it.

  • In regards to crazy land values inside the loop, I have an opinion as an active RE broker. Anything that is 2 to 5 acres seems to be in huge demand from institutional multi-family developers. They have lenders that want to lend on apartment projects and the scarcity of larger in-fill tracts result in the $75psf average that hits a range between $60 to $85psf. What is missed here is that owners who sit on dirt in the same dense areas with smaller parcels way under 2 acres, have no market driving forces paying anywhere over $50psf. Home builders used to drive the market, but they have gone on a diet. Hope this helps put it all in perspective; there is just a higher premium paid for larger tracts.

  • “From Janak:
    In regards to crazy land …”

    Hey Janak,
    Why aren’t investors buying the 1600 block of west main street; no minimum lot size. And why aren’t the investors buying off Dearborn Place as well, where there aren’t any deed restrictions?

    We would love to hear back on this.

  • I don’t even live in Houston anymore, but it will be a sad day when that Fiesta goes. I used to live right around the corner from it; even when I moved further away (still in Houston) it was my #1 grocery store. The other Fiestas just aren’t the same. The large one here in Austin is great, but it lacks that Montrose vibe. I also can’t picture that neighborhood with a snazzy large apartment complex and a brand spanking new HEB. Doesn’t fit in. Sad times.

  • My wife LOVES buying wine at that Fiesta. She claims the wine guy is magic–great wine at low prices. She’ll hate to hear this.

    From joel:
    let’s thank the montrose folks for being good neighbors and helping put the city first to provide a better future for all of us.
    HUH?!? Putting the city first? Where are we, communist Soviet Union? We should give up our own wants & needs, and put the city FIRST?

    I love my city, and do much for it. But I don’t put its needs before mine.

  • We went to HEB last night for a few items – very nice. Of course, we had to stop into Fiesta for the wine. The only thing is that the time of day we went, you can’t make a left turn off Alabama because of the reversable lanes. If I remember correctly, those lanes were to be turned off after the reconstruction of the Southwest Frwy. I guess they forgot publishing that.

  • @Cody — you’re pure class and a real asset to this mostly fair city. You do good work, and have good taste too; kudos bro.

  • “From rsb320:
    If I remember correctly, those lanes were to be turned off after the reconstruction of the Southwest Frwy. I guess they forgot publishing that.”

    Right. PWE let the neighborhoods decide on TOTAP restrictions. Most of the traffic diverts NORTH of West Alabama. Apparently, the neighborhoods decided to force people NORTH during the afternoon and evening hours. Thank you NEIGHBORs.

  • “From joel:
    let’s thank the montrose folks for being good neighbors and helping put the city first to provide a better future for all of us.”
    Certainly, and don’t forget to litter your HEB trash in their yards. And thank the Lancaster Place Civic Association and David Robinson for making the neighborhood as it is.

  • A) I heart the current Fiesta. While I’d hate to see it (and it’s cheap wine) go, I also understand that all things must pass. Even the good ones. The new HEB will pick up the slack and then some.

    B) It would be lovely to see redevelopment here that does a better job at street scape and in fact, re-introduces streets in the places where they really ought to go. Houston seems to have a propensity for cutting streets in half. The cul-de-sac is not a good model, particularly in a city setting. Through streets are a must, especially for those who commute by bike, scooter, or on foot.

    C) Cody & CM-person: Target carries Becker at less than $12/bottle. Not sure if they carry Prarie Rotie, but they definitely have Iconoclast cab sav, claret, etc. On a good week you can find it there for $9-10/bottle…

  • cooperella: Thanks for the tip. I normally just get it at Specs due to its distance from my house. However next time I’m at Target (just went there for pillows, actually) I’ll make sure to stock up!

  • WoooHoooo! Here comes he “walkable city!” – Don’t bother widening those roads! With mixed use we can walk everywhere! No need for a car! I’m gonna sell my F350 and buy an extra pair of Birkenstocks. Developers are friggin geniuses let me tell ya!

  • Oh my gosh! Delta 3!!! Surveyor code for major neighborhood destruction bruhahahahahaha!

    Seriously, that is someone’s Control Point No. 3 and it means nothing really, just a random point to measure from. I don’t know if the “stakes” (we call them lath) which are visible are not the actual surveyor mark; that is just so you can find the actual surveyor mark. Those could be property corners or they could simply be more control points (meaningless to the lay person).

  • have some folks been drinking?

  • Chronicle RE reporter Nancy Sarnoff confirmed the rumor of the Fiesta property sale in her Sunday column. However, what eventually gets developed there is still a matter of speculation.

  • If you’re referring to the UPDATE, that’s old news as of last week. Otherwise, maybe you can provide a link.

  • @Montrose Slums – here’s the link, third item down:

    Her UPDATE on 11/22/11 was a replay of the Swamplot story without any new info. The Sunday story quotes the property owner and names Cushman-Wakefield as rep or the deal.

  • Thanks for the link and information. Some people have suggested that Fiesta signed a lease, requiring them to vacate the property if it is sold before the lease expires. – Not sure if anyone has confirmed that.

  • Yeah I’m really partial to the 2007 Rotie, as it’s from the Martin vineyards (my boss started these in 1976 so they’re just as old as I am), years subsequent have been a blend of grapes from varying vineyards, and not quite as good IMHO. I do also buy them at target, and the iconoclast is great agreed.

  • The sale price for the Fiesta property is rumored to be about $7M for a 4-acre plot. The 7-acre HEB property sold for the same price. So yes, prices have indeed gone up in a very short time. Yikes! In the 1990s, I lived in an old 8-plex on Branard right behind the HEB. The ‘hood was so different then. Can’t imagine living there now, next to the HEB loading dock.

  • I moved into my first apartment in Montrose on Mt Vernon in 1971. Suffice to say a LOT has changed since the days when the neighborhood grocer was Freaky Foods on RIchmond. They never had enough Mal-O-Mars…

  • NO! Leave the Yuppie Slums in Midtown!

  • A “notice of variance request” sign just appeared in front of the Fiesta today.

  • Well, the Almighty Dollar lays
    waste to another charming and beloved piece of Houston history. I was going to say Houston’s “heart,” or maybe even “soul” but it doesn’t seem to be the case here. Houston is turning into one giant Alphaville, as sadly predicted by many observers. Well the nouveaux riches progress robots have to live somewhere, right? Farewell Weingarten’s, Apple Tree, Fiesta! Adieu great 50’s piped in music, low prices, fond memories. I guess if the murals at the Alabama Theater could be boorishly destroyed with no public outcry, the poor little Fiesta didn’t stand a chance!

  • The old Fiesta is now a Halloween costume store.