Comment of the Day Runner-Up: The Hole in the Donut

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE HOLE IN THE DONUT “I enjoy living downtown to be close to events, bars and work. But it is a major pain to not have a decent full-service grocery in walking distance. And all of the fast casual restaurants are closed on the weekends. And we desperately need something like a CityTarget or Walmart Neighborhood Market to get random everyday items. Spend all this money to be close to everything but still have to leave Downtown to do most shopping.” [JasperRasper18, commenting on Latest Downtown Houston Headcount; A Restaurant and Juice Bar for Houston’s First Whole Foods 365] Photo of Main St. at Commerce St.: Bill Barfield via Swamplot Flickr Pool

16 Comment

  • Smart people check out the neighborhood and the convenience of shops and services when choosing a place to live.

  • This sentiment, or a variation thereof, is expressed by (usually more well-off) folks in gentrifying neighborhoods around central and east-side Houston – Northside, Downtown, Midtown, EaDo, 3rd Ward, East End, Hobby Area etc. The key word is “decent.” Apparently folks are simply not satisfied with their existing nearby grocery stores, which are there (these areas are NOT food deserts).
    I guess the Randall’s (walking distance from the southern sector of Downtown) and the Midtown Fiesta (easily accessible on the Red Line) don’t cut it? And don’t forget Phoenicia – which I realize may be nice for what it is, but isn’t truly a full grocery store – which is walking distance from much of Downtown.

  • There’s a Randall’s 1.5 blocks outside of downtown in Midtown. Spec’s in one block further. Whole Foods is under construction in Midtown a stone’s throw from downtown. Suck it up. Most folks in the suburbs drive further than you do for groceries.

  • Daaaaaaaang… scorn much? Part of the point of living in a dense place like downtown is being able to do things on foot.

  • @ Local Planner:
    No, that downtown Randall’s doesn’t cut it. It’s part of the Safeway chain, which has little appeal for Houstonians who prefer to shop at HEB and Kroger.

  • I fear that Midtown grocery stores will always be grody until the legions of homeless and druggies who frequent the area are run off.

  • Take a 3 minute light rail ride to midtown Randall’s?

  • @Bernard and @Local Planner:
    Downtown is the heart of the city. In recent years, it’s been designed to be, and should be, the one place in infamously car-centric Houston where you can live conveniently without owning a car, and walk for virtually everything. Taking a train to get groceries doesn’t cut it.
    You can technically meet your needs at CVS and Phoenicia, but the prices and selection make it to where you’re MUCH better off driving to, for example, the Montrose H-E-B once a week anyway, which is exactly what you’d be doing if you lived in the distant suburbs for 1/3 of the price.
    That’s not to say you aren’t getting a lot of walkability downtown for your money, and more of a true “big city” experience than anywhere else in Houston. But I don’t think that’s the point @JasperRasper18 was trying to make. I believe he was just trying to illustrate that Downtown is not quite there yet for livability, and that if it wants to match up to the living standards of elite downtown neighborhoods in other cities (say, Near North Side Chicago, for instance), it will need to improve even further than it already has.
    For the record, I think that will naturally happen as more residential units continue to be added downtown and nearby. I’d be surprised if there isn’t an H-E-B or a Whole Foods or something added downtown within the next ~10 years.

  • Since only 8,000 people live in the CBD, I doubt that a large store of any kind could make it. Maybe later, when 30,000 live there (the city’s target).

  • Of all of the trips that I *could* make without my car if I lived downtown, grocery shopping would probably be near the bottom of my list, just ahead of furniture shopping. Honestly, what’s so appealing about schlepping a shopping cart full of groceries onto the light rail, or stuffing them into the saddlebags of a bike and hanging the remainder off the handlebars? When I lived in Europe without a car, I had no problem with walking or cycling to work, to a friend’s house, to restaurants/bars, etc, but I despised grocery day.
    Suck it up, drive four minutes to the Randalls in Midtown, and park in the free basement garage. As was said already, plenty of us suburbanites would love to have a grocery store so close.

  • If you’ll forgive a play on words, the tunnel system is undermining downtown’s bid to become livable, walkable destination. The restaurants and businesses that occupy the tunnels skim the cream of the workforce during business hours on weekdays, then are sealed off from the public evenings and weekends.
    Given the price of real estate and rents downtown, and that street level businesses have to survive on the evening and weekend trade to survive, and the fact that so many buildings are inhospitable to pedestrians (many have only two street level entrances on an entire block), retrofitting downtown into a livable space is not going to be easy.
    There are exceptions: Market Square, and stretches of Main Street.. But for the most part, that which has already been built is an impediment to filling this donut hole.

  • @ Christian: I don’t doubt that as residential population within the CBD and adjacent areas like EaDo increase, grocery chains will be sniffing around for an opportunity. Because they will consider the CBD and EaDo / East End / 3rd Ward / Midtown as one market area, however, the placement of the store will likely be optimized to serve all those neighborhoods, meaning that putting it in the middle of the CBD is not likely. The SE corner of the Downtown District is a more likely place, if this store is put within the freeway ring at all. So, the store you get may still not be within a reasonable walk, especially if you’ve got several bags you’re lugging. One of those personal handcarts might help a little.

  • Agreed, downtown is pretty lame as far as groceries. One of my favorite things about living in Hyde Park is being able to walk to the Kroger on Montrose.
    Downtown will be much better when a grocery and a school are built.
    The tunnel system is one of the dumbest things about our city. Idc about how hot it is outside on a summer day. You need that time out doors to defrost from your over-cooled office anyway.

  • I moved downtown late last September. I absolutely love it. I have walked to the theaters, to AMC, to dinner, and to meet for drinks, but I am starting to remember why Houston is not walkable and why the tunnels exist. Since we hit 90 degrees this past weekend, suddenly walking to The Hobby Center in dress clothes seems much less desirable. Every city has weather issues, but trust me, the tunnels are a blessing from May to September and as much as I want a Target or HEB downtown, I still see myself driving instead of carrying groceries on a muggy day.

  • I live downtown and use instacart every week. Saves a ton of time. I don’t understand the fixation about going to a grocery store in person.

  • @Cj

    See, you were wearing traditional dress clothes. And that’s the problem.