Open and Shut: The Montrose H-E-B’s Pedestrian Gates

H-E-B agreed several months ago to wall off the ends of Sul Ross and Branard streets, which dead-end into the site of its future Montrose market at West Alabama and Dunlavy, and which served as entrances for the Wilshire Village Apartments that were torn down there last year. But what about devotees of that obscure local Montrose pastime known as walking to the supermarket? If they’re coming from the neighborhoods to the west, should they be able to get through that way?

Over the weekend, the Lancaster Place Civic Association worked out a “compromise” between homeowners on the dead-end portions of Sul Ross and Branard — mostly opposed to having pedestrian gates at the ends of their streets — and homeowners and renters in that neighborhood to the south and southwest of the site, most of whom wanted them included. H-E-B Houston prez Scott McClelland says he’ll have H-E-B’s in-house architects design what the association came up with: A pedestrian gate on Branard, with a timer that will lock it after dark. Sul Ross, which is closer to the store entrance, won’t have a gate, but will have a panel in the wall that would make it easier to put one in later.

32 Comment

  • Isn’t David Robinson from Neartown helping with the pedestrian access gates? And is there going to be a fixed gate, that doesn’t open, at Sul Ross?

  • The panel seems like a bad idea in terms of aesthetics. It seems that wrought iron gates should be on both ends to make it seem more open.

    The other question is with regard to security. Does having a wall at a dead end street make it more secure? In some ways, criminals may be safer where no one can see them during the day, or night. The wall may act as a buffer for thieves instead of hindering their action. There are many stories in the neighborhood where high walls and fences encouraged thieves.

    Typically, pedestrian areas seem to be more safe since there is always someone watching. So I’m not sure about the safety for those residents on the dead end street with just a wall.

  • Scott will then explain that noone helped HEB come up with the extra cost of implementing the fancy timer-controlled gates and put up the wall that HEB were planning all along.

  • The wall is good. The gates are good. The timer is good. The surrounding resident involvement is bad. Complain but don’t come to the meeting or get involved?

  • Pictures of the architectural models presented in the Saturday meeting with HEB can be found at

  • LOL at the obscure Montrose passtime of walking to the grocery store. I will always fondly remember my block-and-a-half long walks down Sul Ross, through Wilshire Village to Fiesta. Except when I needed a lot of mixers and beer, and in those cases I will fondly remember my two block long drives.

  • Poor Scotty M. Having to deal with all this BS. Almost feel bad for the guy

  • Isn’t there a movement FOR walkable neighborhoods to decrease auto pollution, increase caloric consumption, improve chances of actually meeting and/or knowing your neighbors? Oh yeah, there are several websites that promote this old-new idea.

  • If people really want to have access to both streets, there’s a simple approach but it takes some work. The residents on Sul Ross are the only hold up to this, not HEB.

    If the community really wants to change this, then they need to coordinate together and make a presence. So far, very few people have actually called the civic associations or created a simple petition to have their case heard.

    The community to the west of the future HEB are the most inconvenienced, and have little representation. They should call the Lancaster Place Civic Association, or Winlow, or the Neartown Association to be heard. The more people that get involved, the better the chance that the community will get close to what they want regarding access.
    If anyone is serious about this they can also contact us.

  • Blocking pedestrians from a PUBLIC street? Yet another outgrowth of the City of Houston’s pandering to residents who think they OWN the street because they live on it. If the COH continues to issue parking permits that effectively privatize public streets, we can expect more reactions like this.

  • I was eyeing one of the multi-family properties for sale a few months back at the end of Branard and decided not to pursue it, but not because of a potential wall or pedestrian traffic, but because of potential loading dock noise. From the plans shown here, it looks like Sul Ross will get most of it, but if I lived on one of those blocks I’d be much more concerned about noise levels than I would be about pedestrian traffic. Do these walls include extra sound-dampening characteristics?

  • I believe that the wall is concrete with maybe stucco exterior, 12 feet high and unknown width at this time. I am not sure what buffer HEB is planning on but you’re right, they need a buffer along the wall to reduce noise. Anyone have information on this?

  • I can’t get past the idea that someone wants to put a wall up so people won’t walk from their street to the store. Because really, having convenient things in walking distance is horrible! WTF?

  • How’s that wall going to work with the smell from a grocery store’s rear end? Ever bike ride behind the Randall’s @ Sheperd Square in the summer?

    And making those streets dead end and walling off the ‘hood is retarded… that whole area is destined to be a traffic cluster-fuck.

  • The wall has pros and cons. The neighbors need a buffer, which is the function of the wall. The problem is that HEB has eliminated green space along the wall. Look at the picture.

    If they buffer the wall, for about 10 feet, with green space including vertical , that will buffer the visual problem.

  • The Foteh’s properties do give the ‘hood that barrio flavour.

    I’m sure some of the neighbors love the diversity.

  • What? I could have sworn that there was a different ‘smelling’ post a little earlier.

  • Montrose Slums, just ran across your website. Yeah, it’s hard to pick a favorite Foteh property… Let me know how I can be of help in reporting what surely be some code violations. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell the family is intent on letting each of those properties decay to the same level of squalor.

    In terms of diversity, yes, convicted sex offenders really mix things up a bit

  • ” From OkieEric:

    Montrose Slums, just ran across your website. Yeah, it’s hard to pick a favorite Foteh property… Let me know how I can be of help in reporting what surely be some code violations. ”

    Thanks for the offer. We are currently working on several methods to work on the owners but we need people like you to help.
    We are currently using the following methods:
    1. Fine the owners for all ordinance violations
    2. Establish a public forum to display the owner address’s and phone numbers with address’s of their building, and pictures of their slums.
    3. Call, write, and communicate with the owners to clean up their building, inside and outside
    4. Legal action after the previous steps fail

    We have worked very hard to establish connections at the neighborhood protection division to enforce certain ordinance violations. Calling 311 or sending a 311 form does not work. So you have to go through a process where you file a 311 form, get the number, and then email a specific person. That person will collect our requests and send an inspector to the address of the violation. The owner will be fined. I will post how to do this on the web site.

    If you can sign the guest sheet on the web site so that we can call on people to submit petitions or attend a hearing at city hall, that would also help.

    If you can gather information on the slum, the owner, phone numbers, etc, we can post them on the site.

    Several of us have adopted a slum. I have adopted the West Main Slums (1700 block, or the Foteh Villas. I am responsible for getting the city to site violations. I also am responsible for working with the owners, where possible. So adopt a slum.

    We also have worked with city council person, Sue Lovell, who is always responsive regarding the slums. Her office is a very good contact. But we can help you there.

    We have been working with the Lancaster Place Civic Association, which has helped also.

    And finally, we are trying our best but need need suggestions.

    Thanks for your support.

  • Hey, Montrose Slums – did you ever consider just contacting ICE?

    Seems like 15 or 20 of those buses pulling up in the neighborhood would start to clean things out, real quick.

  • Yes. They in fact were contacted multiple times, especially about some minor crime in the area. They claim that they can not investigate without directly investigating a crime.

    Any other suggestions?

  • Although, we have not called ICE for the owners, yet.

  • No contacts at City Hall?

    Seems like you could get HFD to go around and condemn all the Foteh properties and then get someone from the city to run off all the tenants.

    It worked for Wilshire Village. And that place wasn’t even infested with gangs/illegals.

  • We don’t take issue with the residents but with the owners that take advantage of the residents. The owners create the slums, the poor live in them.

  • You’re back-asswards with that logic, MS. The neighborhood is a slum because of the residents. I’d say they live like they do because that’s all they know.

    I’ve rented from a slumlord for years. In return for what is an excellent deal on rent, I and the other 3 tenants keep the property in pretty good shape.

  • Would anyone else like to add some sweeping generalizations to this one?

  • MS: Liked your website, except for the part where it’s pointed out that residents of a property do not speak English. This is not some sort of affront or illegal. You may as well just say theyre all Latino, Catholic or whatever other stereotype you want to wink at. How bout just stay far, away and off the the residency bandwagon and just focus on property code enforcement and let the talking heads handle the citizenship circus on tv. Otherwise, I applaud what youre doing and wish you the best of luck, esp after I lived in Montrose for 10 years and have a deep appreciation for it.

  • We apologize for that. We are trying to state that these people cannot complain due to their status, and therefore, are abused by the owners. – That’s our feeling.

  • The reason for wanting a wall with no gates can be summed up with three words: fear of crime. (Not crime, mind you – just the fear of it). We had the exact same debate here in Braeburn three years ago.
    BTW: MS – We’re fighting the same battles against slum lords in my neighborhood. I’ve left a message on your blog.

  • Yeah, my favorite Foteh property is at 1905 Colquitt.

    Of course since they spelled their name as ‘FOTEN J F’ in HCAD, it doesn’t come up on most searches. Thanks, Jabra and the rest of the fine upstanding Foteh family.

    Just how many ways can you spell your last name???

  • Not to mention the property has been red-tagged since September as uninhabitable.