HOW BELLAIRE’S NEW H-E-B IS RISING ABOVE ITS OLD PARKING LOT
H-E-B’s double-decker replacement in Bellaire is now hovering over the spot where its old store, neighboring strip, and adjacent parking lot once fronted Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The photo above — tweeted out by KHOU’s Bill Bishop views the elevated supermarket’s southwest corner from the intersection of 5th St. and Cedar, showing its second-story grocery level towering above a 3-acre,all-parking first floor. Not visible in the scene: the additional acre of parking that sits on the opposite side of upstairs deck, along Bissonnet in front of the store’s main entrance. Construction on the building is expected to wrap up later this year. In the meantime, the property’s owner Brixmore Holdings recently listed it for sale. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Bill Bishop
One hundred seventy 3-to-6-year-old students restarted their school year at the Post Oak School in Bellaire this week in one very large classroom: the school’s basketball gym. Harvey flooded the lower school campus at Bissonnet St. and Avenue B in Bellaire with 4 inches of water throughout its first floor late last month. The result: 15 classrooms and other learning spaces were temporarily closed as a result of water damage.
Five elementary-school classes were moved to Episcopal High School, which is next door to the 54-year-old Montessori school. But the Post Oak School’s 6 separate primary-level classes are staying on campus at 4600 Bissonnet — only relocated into its largest available unflooded space. Over 3 days prior to the reopening, Post Oak employees, parents, and volunteers from Austin Montessori School set up a giant six-pack of Montessori classrooms using whatever undamaged furniture and materials they could find. And — as the video above shows — they filmed it all.
Bits and pieces of the electrical towers formerly stringing CenterPoint’s transmission lines between 59 and Westpark Dr. were spotted laying around just west of West Loop 610 this weekend, though the feet of at least one of the structures were still standing at the ready. The old towers appear to have been fully relieved of their duties at this point, 3 months or so after the taller, sleeker towers started going skyward. Here’s one of the last full-length portraits featuring both kinds of towers, taken in the final days before the changeover began in earnest:
Making way for new happenings in the old chapel and mortuary, Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home has departed from its longtime space at 6700 Ferris St. and moved into the younger, broader building at 4525 Bissonnet St. formerly housing Levy Funeral Directors. (Levy, for its part, has scooted over to nextdoor 4539 Bissonnet, the brick 4-plex just east of Candy’s Nails.) Earthman’s empty space was sold in October to United Equities, and Ralph Bivins reports this week that the slope-roofed mid-1950s building will be put back to use by 2 new tenants: yoga and fitness chain Define Body & Mind and a zip-code-enthused restaurant going by 401. The Define folks have already marked their territory on the Ferris side of the building, atop the ghost of Earthman’s scripty logo:
The density of fast-food chicken options at S. Rice Ave. just south of 59 is increasing precipitously, a couple of readers note. The most recent addition: the newly-constructed Chik-Fil-A at 5325 S. Rice Ave. (visible above on the right, just south of Pollo Loco and across the street from Raising Cane’s). The Chik-Fil-A is not yet officially open for fowl distribution (though it does appear to be giving away prizes on Facebook. The Pollo Loco and Chik-Fil-A represent the fulfillment of the Wal-Mart Supercenter version of the Shoppes at Uptown Crossingsite plan, passed around back in 2014; the Marriott Town & Place shown on that plan has since come to be as well:
The little and not-so-little red dots on the map above show off sites on the EPA’s list of plants and refineries required to have a Risk Management Plan due to their potential for accidental hazardous chemical releases — with the larger dots showing the places that have already had an accident (or, in some cases, as many as 43). Clicking each dot will tell you what the facility’s name is, as well as how much toxic or flammable material it stores on site (to the nearest thousand pounds or so).
The Union of Concerned Scientists and t.e.j.a.s. put together the interactive map as part of a report released late last week, which compares the EPA’s data on air quality and cancer rates in a few neighborhoods on the west side of town (specifically in Bellaire and in the West Oaks and Eldridge area, just inside Hwy.6 near the Barker reservoir) with the same data in a couple of east side spots (Galena Park and Manchester).
Drawings submitted this month to the city of Bellaire for approval outline how H-E-B plans to fit 6-acres of parking and replacement store onto its 3-acre lot at the intersection of Bissonnet and Cedar streets. The renderings and accompanying documentation show a roughly 75,000-sq.-ft. single-story store footprint sitting on the upper level of the planned structure, with an acre-plus of parking out front atop the all-parking lower level. The drawing at the top shows the would-be view of the design from Bissonnet (near the late-50’s supermarket building currently occupied by Randall’s); below are the proposed layouts of the upper and lower story once the existing H-E-B (also pictured above) and its retail strip friends are cleared of the way: