More Than a Collection of Red Shirts and Blue Shirts

MORE THAN A COLLECTION OF RED SHIRTS AND BLUE SHIRTS Hearing the news that Mayor Parker will be hosting a public meeting Wednesday evening at Downtown’s George R. Brown Convention Center to answer questions about Ainbinder’s Walmart & friends development targeted for a 24-acre property near the intersection of Yale and Koehler streets in the West End (just south of the Heights), the folks behind the Stop Heights Walmart website have come up with an interesting plan: Urge opponents of the discount chain’s first foray into Houston’s Inner Loop to attend the meeting wearing red shirts. Notably, that’s the daily uniform of the hundreds of thousands of “team members” who work for discount rival Target. One Walmart opponent noted on the group’s Facebook page that red shirts are available for low prices at Walgreens. “Please don’t buy them at Walmart :) Given, right?” asked another commenter. A few representatives of Ainbinder and Walmart itself will be on hand at the meeting, wearing blue vests and greeting visitors at the door. [Stop Heights Walmart; previously on Swamplot] Photos: Rufus Quail; Alice Wright

61 Comment

  • This is so lame, I dare not comment. Seriously taking a page from the crips and bloods? Ugh.

  • COREY! You take that back now. :p Because you know I will be there.

  • I take it no one noticed the “to answer questions” as in “it’s a done deal.”

    Might be fun to attend just the same to see if someone manages to push one of the mayor’s buttons.

    No doubt she’ll have Anne Clutterbuck there to announce at the end how sorry everyone is about it but there really isn’t anything anyone do about it. As in she has no personal interest, the mayor has no personal interest, no one on city council has a personal interest, and if you want them to have a personal interest, go find a V&E attorney or two with a personal interest and then they, too, will take a personal interest.

    Just like they did in Southampton.

    So maybe Tony Vallone will decide to invade the Heights as well and open the anchor restaurant in the little chi-chi strip center in front. Might not be a bad idea. The valets can just keep an eye out on the Wal-Mart parking lot. None of the Vallone restaurants have a problem with riff-raff. Maybe he hires them from Blackwater or whatever it’s called now.

  • Matt Mystery = 24/7 misogynistic Dodo.

  • Corey….with that group though it seems more like the Jets and Sharks. I expect the red bunch to start dancing and singing at any minute.

    According to one post I read, there’s not ONE city council person who is supporting this deal. Take that to the bank…….

  • *waves* to Melanie…

  • The Anti-Walmart crowd is going to attend to provide comic relief? That’s pretty much what the level of their objection rises to when they start going off.

  • What if I want to wear a green shirt? Can I still attend?

  • I’m confused, will they be wearing red because they feel that the effectively identical site of the effectively identical Targte store is inexplicably better than the Walmart site. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me what the major difference is between a 130,000 sq.ft Target with 650 parking spaces planted on top of existing residential homes and a 150,000 sq.ft. Walmart with 650 parking spaces planted adjacent to existing residential homes.

  • Wasn’t the Target just like this Walmart, being placed where previously it was just large industrial warehouses?

  • The red shirts are actually meant to mean “stop”, like a stop sign. Walmart protesters in other cities, including Austin, have worn red shirts. It doesn’t have anything to do with Target, though that is now being inferred by others.

  • I am no fan of Wal-Mart but with the single most profitable Target in the country (by sq. ft) next door occupying the same foot print, I don’t get it. Don’t shop it if you don’t like it and Target is the number 2, that’s right, second largest importer from China right after Wal-Mart and in front of Home Depot. Its not like they are making home craft’s in the woods of MN. Is there really any difference other than Target work’s hard to portray the “hipper” image.

  • John,

    Where have you seen Target profits by store? Just curious as to how you know that’s the most profitable per sq ft…

  • Actually there were several residential homes where the parking lot of Target is now. My memory is a little hazy but I think at least one them refused to move until the construction was well underway on all four sides of them. Nonetheless, yes, the sites are similarly industrial.

  • Hi Sally, I’m fine with a Wal Mart though i woun’t be caught dead shopping there. It’s in a dead area, seriously just a huge vacant space. It’s *not* in the heights, and it’s technically the west end, or Rice Military, and i’m not at all convinced by the opposing opinions, and truly have disliked what little I’ve seen of Urbano (captain self serving). So while I don’t like Wal Mart, I have no reason at all to oppose it, it will likely do very well, and as stated “it’s a done deal”.

  • Hi Corey, the proposed Wal-Mart is in the Heights, before I-10 became an arbitrary boundary line, the Heights ran up to Washington. Regardless, don’t you think that if and when Wal-Mart throws up its new eco-friendly sustainable blue metal building that it is going to advertise this as their new Heights location? Wouldn’t it be groovey if the people who have to live around the new eco-friendly sustainable blue metal building actually wanted to shop there? Anyway, I’ll be sure to share your sentiments with my nearest and dearest that this area is “dead.”

  • Walmart is not longer going with the blue motif even for it’s Supercenters. Brand new and older stores are being converted to a beige color. The newer stores that came before the new color scheme will be converted when it’s time for renovation.

    Driving on I-10 look at the site, you could barely see it. Unless the building will be placed on stilts, trees will block the view of the store. These aren’t part of the property, so they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Also, the development will require a massive tree planting to meet the city’s criteria. We should lobby for the developer to utilized trees besides crape myrtles and limp fox tail (and fox tail like) palms. Go with oak, maple, or other large canopy style trees.

  • Go take a walk, or ride your bike by it, I have dozens of times. It’s empty, sorry development is going to happen eventually.

  • This is an old conversation but … Walmart is NOT in the Heights. It’s in the West End. The portion of the Heights that extended south of IH 10 ended about 50-100 feet west of the current right of way of Yale. That strip of land was an industrial rail spur that served the Houston Heights community. Remnants of that railroad spur continue to be visible as the aging trestle immediately west of the Yale Street bridge over White Oak Bayou. And, Malia, if you will contact your community or neighborhood association’s leaders you will quickly learn that this walmart is not to be blue or metal; it’s actually pretty good looking.

  • BTW I have heard the developer is out in the community looking for input about aesthetics, landscaping, hike and bike trails, restoration of boulevards and bridges … the information about trees would be interseting to share with them … if they haven’t already read it here.

  • Clear thinking residents in the area should look at this public meeting to offer reasonable suggestions. Things like tree types, sidewalk improvements, streetscapes along Yale and Heights Boulevard are ways they can contribute to the area.

    I don’t know what they want to do to the existing bridges across White Oak Bayou? A simple clean up would do wonders. I don’t know much else they could do.

  • I would suspect that the developer will not get a very warm welcome.

    I don’t have any concrete reason for thinking this other than from reading some of the posts on their stop the walmart facebook page. Seems to be a whole lotta hate going on.

    I’m constantly amazed at how many of those folks posting on that FB page simply cannot or will not proof read or use spell check. Too busy I suppose.

  • @Malia, you are partially right. The original Heights development ran further South. However it only extended that far South in a band 1 block either side of Heights Blvd, ie to Yale and no further. Aside from there the development was all above the bayou. What’s ironic is that that part of the Heights was intended by the original developer to be commercial property. The developers original images show rows of industrial warehouse space in that area. The image can be seen at:

  • Be sure and ask about those “chef-driven” restaurants. And be sure *not* to ask about anything more than tree canopy, keep it niiice and contained just as Wal-Mart’s hounds would prefer it.

  • anon22 … in addition to questions about other tenants in the project what other questions would you like asked? infrastructure, traffic, drainage, security, lighting? that all sounds reasonable.

  • anon22,

    Considering the original Heights plan had for industrial warehouse (has Jimbo’s link shows) being adjacent to the bayou, rail lines, and spur connection, anything this development will do will add foliage.

    In the scale of this development, trees are cheap. Requesting certain types that have a change of growing large enough do anything is not a big demand and one the developer can easily accommodate.

  • “infrastructure, traffic, drainage, security, lighting? that all sounds reasonable.”

    LoL. Are you the same John who curiously knew how much money the nearby Target was making per square foot?

    Consult the article about the Target in Harlem for examples of things to ask for. Don’t let slime like “John Friend” (lol) dictate the terms of the meeting.

  • For those that persist in saying this isn’t in the Heights, even Ainbinder refers to it as the Washington Heights development – so they’re using the Heights ‘brand’ to their benefit.

  • anon22 …

    sounds like me but … don’t know what Target is making per square foot. I understand it’s a great store though.

    Didn’t intend to “dictate the terms of the meeting” or be slime — no clue about that one … so … how about this? What questions would you like to ask at the meeting? Forget what I think is reasonable.

    I know other than “stop walmart” — everybody gets that — the developer, walmart and I am thinking the city would like constructive input from the community. I understand alot of your neighbors have been willing to provide it. Will you?

  • Target at Sawyer Heights is not in either the Houston Heights nor the Woodland Heights. The Midtown Heights apartments are neither in the Houston Heights nor in Midtown. The fact that they are branding it as something does not alter it’s geography.

  • Hellno, if naming conventions are more important to defining the identify of a neighborhood, why aren’t you protesting the Wal-Mart at I-45 & Crosstimbers? It impacts the Independence Heights neighborhood.

  • Hellno … the portion of the development east of Yale is in the Heights. The portion — or least all of its save and except 50-100 feet — is in the West End — arguably part of the Washington Avenue corridor. I doubt anyone at the developer’s office will argue with you about that because it’s accurate. So, “Washington Heights” must have made sense to them. It does to me.

  • John Friend: “if they haven’t already read it here.” …
    “the developer, walmart and I am thinking the city would like constructive input from the community. I understand alot of your neighbors have been willing to provide it. Will you?”

    Yep, they re reading it here.
    Just my personal observation, but I think John “Friend” might be a part of the “Friend of Walmart” campaign team, putting out info to get feedback. Just a part of any smart company’s online monitoring. Which brings up the case that everyone should have Google Alerts set up for themselves, their company and their competitors in this day and age.

    And I vote for oak trees please. And please let them be a decent size and not little saplings.

  • Heights Weirdo,

    When asking for trees with larger size to be planted initially, go by diameter.

    A 3″ tree is much further along than a 1″ sapling. Any tree connoisseurs want to chime in?

  • Heck, then let me ask for the whole enchilada…12″ or more in diameter please! :)

  • That’s what google’s analytics are for. Easy to see who, when, and where of who is checking you out online. No doubt Wal Mart employs people to read these, though whether anything constructive comes from it is highly suspect.

  • FYI – John Friend works for or closely with Wal-Mart and/or this developer.

  • Heights Weirdo,

    Critical term here is reasonable. Childish thinking would ask for a fully grown tree. Reasonable thinking would ask for something a little larger than the minimum requirement the city sets forth.

  • “Childish thinking”

    Man, kjb, that hurt. You better get a sense of humor or I just might have to take my Chuck Taylor clad foot and kick your over-analytical bootie. :)

  • HW,

    Sorry about that. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between humor and some the people that rant in opposition to the development. Their reasoning just makes me laugh (I got tired of just putting my face in my palm, so I started just laughing).

  • I guess I better start putting a nose back on my smiley faces so it will be more obvious when I’m kidding. My husband told me noses were just so yesterday, heh! :-)

  • :-)

    Sad thing is most likely if we all ran into each other :-)’s would be likely all you’d see, no drama, no nonsense, and there would be a good open discussion without all the hurt feelings and pointless insults. The internet is very similar to cars in that respect, some people who are normally be the salt of the earth turn into real @ssholes in their cars, same is true of the net. Lift that veil of pseudo privacy and you’d find probably a lot of good minded intelligent souls around here and likely not a one looking for a fight.

  • To John Friend:

    Go back and tell your bosses that those of us that are not fully opposed want these concessions (my friends and neighbors have discussed this). 1) No 24 hr facility. 2) No auto/oil change lube section. 3) No other national chains allowed in development. 4) Wal-Mart should pay out of their pocket for security as well as daily trash pick up on Yale as well as someone to monitor carts so they do not leave the parking lot and end up at the bus stops and strewn along Yale. 5) Wal-Mart must pay for the extra police patrols that will be needed. 6) Wal-Mart should repave Yale from Washington to 11th street preparing for the increase in traffic. 7) Wal-Mart should agree to a $1000 fine for heights parks improvements every time one of your 18 wheelers is caught on residential streets in the neighborhood. Some woodland heights friends have had this problem with Target trucks taking shortcuts.

    I’ll think of more later.

  • cm=corey, hear, hear!

    I try to post comments online exactly how I would comment in person, and in keeping with a proper honest debate, but I’m afraid I probably fail sometimes. I apologize if I do and please call me out if it happens.

  • I am for the project. I have no vested interest, strictly from a property rights position. The stop WM facebook page is a great source of entertainment. The objections about traffic, drainage, crime etc from a development of this size are typically followed by wishes of a HEB, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. As I have maintained all along, the developer who took the economic risk and purchased what is clearly a commercial site gets to choose the retailer. And one needs to look no further than wording of the mayor’s invitation to the community meeting to read between the lines and understand this is a bitch session for the opponents before they approve the project complete with a 380 agreement. Looking at the rendering, if that is what actually is built, looks like Ainbinder and Walmart have done a good job of making the development fit in the neighborhood. The opponents will still be screaming, but its a anti-Walmart position the city is not going to take.

  • tireofthedrama,

    LOL, most of those are ridiculous or standard operating procedure.

    A 24hr facility would be nice since there is nothing like it nearby. I would love it.

    What’s so bad about having the auto section in place? The development has to install oil/grit containment units per EPA and City requirements for storm runoff.

    No other national chains? This come from idiotic thinking camp. Most national chains you see are actually locally owned. A McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chik-fil-a are generally not owned by the national operator and or owned by local small businesses.

    The developer/wal-mart will likely have security as they typically do at many of their stores. The rest of the demands in this category are things local community and city should handle. How’s it is Walmart’s fault a shopping cart left their premises. It was stolen from them.

    Why will extra police be needed? Are you indicting all the shoppers? Or is it for the silly anti-walmart protesters?

    The development is already rebuilding Yale in the vicinity of the project. Yale from I-10 to the Loop was killed by the city because the residents wouldn’t give any compromise on the trees along the street.

    A fine/penalty system already exists for trucks on residential street based on overloading the street. Actually, most SUVs, large Vans, and METRO buses violate this on a daily basis.

  • @tiredofthedrama. A chunk of those are either pretty reasonable or are already standard procedure. I would agree on the 24hr thing, I’ve also not seen anywhere where they are threatening a 24hr store. On the lube shop I can’t imagine how they would fit it in anyway. Remember this store is only 20,000sq.ft larger than Target and they are already squeezing a full grocery in there. Carts and Security is already something that retailers pay for and provide.

    Paving Yale is not going to happen up to 11th. Besides I would rather leave that road bad so that traffic trends more towards towards the Freeway. If you improve Yale it will just attract more cars.

    I would agree with kjb on the extra police patrols, not any more necessary with Walmart than with the 130,000 sq.ft Target or with the 100,000 sq.ft Kroger on 11th. If they are not paying an additional police tax then neither should Wally.

  • Unfortunately kjb, there’s one thing I have to point out. Walmart is notorious for not offering what most would consider minimal parking lot security in comparison to other like retailers. They know it is cheaper to pay off a few legal claims against them than to pay for lot security at all their stores.

    I know someone who was kidnapped from a Walmart complex’s parking lot, sexually assaulted and murdered. There were video cameras, but they were for prosecuting shoplifters, not to help prevent or photograph serious crime.

    Any retailer of Walmart’s size, scope and massive amount of customers should be forced to offer at least one security officer in their parking lot.

    Note if you held a concert or special event with the amount of people who shop at Walmart, you would be required to hire security.

  • HW,

    Requesting for security is reasonable and should be asked if it will be provide. I’m sure if when asking it is mentioned that Target down the street has parking lot security will push Walmart in the right direction. Also, Target keeps a security guard at the entrance at all times also. This should be asked also of Walmart.

    For the people in opposition, noticed I said “ask” versus “demand”. If residents go in demanding this and that, it makes you look hostile and more likely they’ll brush you off.

  • The Walmart at Tidwell and US 290 has two security patrol cars that work the parking lot. Since I work right by the place, I’ve shopped there every now and then. The security at this Walmart is much tighter than the security at the Target at Hollister and US 290 (pretty much the same location). The Target has a small golf cart with an old guy sitting out there and seems to be more of a nuisance to the shoppers. They do have a security guard at the entrance is much better.

  • There was a time long ago that I shopped at the Walmart in Stafford, believe it or not. Not a security officer in sight. Hopefully that has changed now.

    I don’t mind the old guy in the golf cart as long as he stays awake, it is still a deterrent and keeps people honest.

  • My problem with the old man is that he typically doesn’t have a security guard outfit and sometimes in plain clothes instead of a Target shirt. Also, he looks into everybody’s car and when you come to your car he tries to lecture you on hiding stuff that’s in plain view so it isn’t stolen. I know he means well, but he seems to scare some of the ladies when they are going to their cars. I see them scramble to get in and leave before he can walk over from his cart.

    The patrol look car and sometimes truck at the Target at Taylor a much better pick and something I would like for Walmart to do.

  • I wonder if he is a retired cop….or my dad. He keeps joking that if the stock market doesn’t improve he’s going to have to get a job as a Walmart greeter.

  • From Heights Weirdo:
    Unfortunately kjb, there’s one thing I have to point out. Walmart is notorious for not offering what most would consider minimal parking lot security in comparison to other like retailers. They know it is cheaper to pay off a few legal claims against them than to pay for lot security at all their stores.

    I know someone who was kidnapped from a Walmart complex’s parking lot, sexually assaulted and murdered. There were video cameras, but they were for prosecuting shoplifters, not to help prevent or photograph serious crime.

    And she wasn’t the only one who was attacked. Not that you would ever manage to get the actual reports from the Galleria itself but I would make bet there is just as much, if not more, crime at Galleria as there is at a Wal-Mart.

    Almost every comment made by those opposing this has a racist or xenophobic tone to it. As if “those people” don’t have the right to shop near their homes. Of course never mind that many of those opposed to this wish they would live somewhere else as well as shop somehwere else.

  • Matt it wasn’t at the Galleria, it was Katy.

  • I think Matt was making the point that what happened at the Walmart happens everywhere.

    He is right about the Galleria. My partner works there (and has worked there for the last 15-years). They regularly have flyers handed to the stores by Simon (the management company) to give warnings to employees and particularly women about attacks and sexual assaults. They get the flyers after an incident has been reported. They get one about 2 to 3 times a month.

  • Geez, I need a reading comprehension course. And to not comment here while multitasking doing other work and not reading the links.

  • HW,
    I would normally agree with you but on this security thing, I do know about two of their stores with security services.

    The Almeda store and the Pasadena store on Southmore both have guys in those small cars cruising around. They may or may not wear uniforms but the cars, at least the ones I’ve seen, are marked.

    And another thing, I’ve seen plastic bags flying around at HEB so it’s not a problem limited to Walmart. As to dirty diapers thrown around, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one but then, I’m not at either Wally or HEB every day.

  • “For the people in opposition, noticed I said “ask” versus “demand”. If residents go in demanding this and that, it makes you look hostile and more likely they’ll brush you off.”

    Then the Heights crowd takes it up a notch, and we get to see exactly what is possible short of running Ainbinder back to St. Louis on a rail.

  • I’m glad to hear that it’s changed since I last visited a Walmart, which like I said has been a long time. If they at least have somebody available to walk customers to their cars when needed, I’d be grateful.