Sprawl Vortex at S. Shepherd and W. Alabama Will Turn Roeder’s Pub into Drive-Thru, Cat Clinic Houses into CVS


As of December 10 heavy equipment was already on site at the southwest corner of W. Alabama St. and S. Shepherd Dr., where a bevy of venerable-by-Houston-standards small businesses — including quirky jewelers Fly High Little Bunny, laid-back Roeder’s Pub, a cat clinic and stray adoption center, and late-night hang Ruchi’s Taqueria — are eating it to make way for a CVS and a roughly 24,000 sq.-ft. pad site.

Back when news of the development broke, some Swamplot commenters criticized it, site-plan unseen, as overly suburban-looking for its location, just across W. Alabama from the old theater and adjoining strip mall that now houses Trader Joe’s.

And now developers Read-King have released the site plans:




How do these grab ya? Plenty of great parking spots to choose from!

As of 2011, Read-King had hoped to develop a mixed-use development of 250 luxury apartments atop 30,000 sq.-ft. of “high-end” retail at the site, but the CVS plan eventually won out.

Photo: Aditya Balachander

Plans: Read-King [PDF]

Shepherding In A Katyville Corner

46 Comment

  • Woohoo, more parking for Jugs Growlers, Jenni’s noodles and TJ’s.

  • So drug store profits are so high, you can buy a tract in a dense part of a very large city, and make money by only using 1/3 of the property as lease-able space?
    The city really needs to re-visit the parking regulations for this part of town.

  • How many CVS locations is enough?

  • I see there is an available fast food restaurant pad site. Maybe they will put in a Jack in the Box to replace the one that was 50 yards south of that site many years ago. The circle continues…

  • See that dashed gray line? That’s our city-mandated 25′ setback.

    So while it’s going to be tempting to decry the developers for tearing out street-fronting businesses and pushing them back behind an island of parking, remember that this is what our code says should be built, so this is what gets built.

  • just what I’ve been waiting for–another CVS.

  • I am so sick of losing the pub and any other small business to this damn company that places eyesores on valuable real estate. Maybe with that pad site they can rent it out to another mattress scam outlet or a title loan company. Those are the types of companies that belong next to a CVS.

  • This is a critical intersection for traversing that part of town, but driving there these days is brutal. Issues on Shepherd include road construction, ever-increasing traffic due to urban infill, and idiots who can’t read or interpret a “NO LEFT TURN” sign.

    While it is nice to see an actual “plan” for that spot, the installation of a CVS (suburban-style mega chain) in place of several local, small businesses is sad.

    One other note…as someone who lives in another part of town, I used to visit this area because of those local businesses…music stores, Thai restaurants, aquarium shops, non-chain bars (Red Lion, Stag’s Head, Blue Door). While there, I would occasionally stop in at one of the chains like Petsmart to pick up a bag of dog food, or Starbucks for a cup of joe…on my way to a local business, which was my primary destination.

    However, now that the whole area is going chain, I no longer have a reason to journey there at all. If I want to go to CVS, there is always one around the corner. For bigger stores, I’ll go to one of the chain clusters closer to my house (ex. Meyerland, Gulfgate, Memorial City). So the chain-ization of this hood has effectively forced me out, along with my traffic. Guess that’s good for the rest of you who sit in traffic there stuck behind someone who insists upon turning left.

  • The setback requirement by the COH really needs to be revisited. This site plan makes it clear that a prime urban corner location in the city will not have large sidewalks and immediate street fronting businesses. Unfortunate.

  • This really disappoints me. I live nearby, and was hoping for an upward trend in development.

    This giant parking lot in a prime location is a waste of space. More importantly, though, it will become a nexus for crime and vagrancy. The Alabama Theatre complex is pretty safe, with a night watchman or watchwoman on duty, but even still, I have been accosted by drug dealer’s on my way out with groceries.

    Large parking lots in inner city areas don’t work, and this design needs to be stopped somehow. Does anyone know of any remedies, however remote?

  • I can’t wait for the supposed Texas based recession to hit… maybe that will put the brakes on some of this development lunacy. A CVS on that corner?? Beyond retarded.


  • They should put a chick-fil-a on the pad site. The ensuing gridlock would be absolutely hilarious.

  • So very glad I moved out of Houston. There Are small pockets of great charm and beauty there and they all seem to be being taken over by CVS.

  • To echo Mary Ellen A and SuperDave, my wife and I moved to Katy a few years ago because of the obscene rent increase we faced in our apartment, and it was really tough to acclimate to the unadulterated Houston suburbs (and I still don’t see it as some type of Shangri-La). But with every demolition and suburbanization of the inner loop, our trips there continue to become less and less necessary.

  • I’m moving into the area just North of River Oaks Shopping Center. I have to admit when my wife and I were driving around the area we were glad to see a Walgreen’s close by. They are ugly, it would be nice if these companies would come up with a better design for their stores but they do get customers. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be built.

  • Shadyheightster, I’ve wondered the same thing about bank branches. Huge pieces of prime corner real-estate and never more than a third of the spaces filled.

  • Stick around. Things at W. Alabama-Shepherd intersection will change. For example, look at the large apartment complex at Studemont-Washington that was recently sold and slated for demo. What goes around comes around…(I hope.)

  • Oh, Houston. You were making such great progress. Investing in parks, bike paths, building up, and mixed use. And then you had to do this. Don’t worry. It is just a relapse. It happens to everyone. Come back to the meetings. Talk to your sponsor. You do not have to keep doing this. You are better than this, Houston.

  • Houston is not alone. The recently accelerated transformation of inner city cores into vast chain store conglomerates may be a widespread phenomenon: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-york-city-is-looking-more-like-a-suburb-2014-12-22?link=MW_latest_news

  • while not my favorite, this isn’t that bad. The parking up front is comparable to the parking up front across the street at trader joe’s, and most commentators on this site have nothing bad to say about that building/parking. And can you imagine how excited everyone on this board would be if they announced that In-N-Out was opening a restaurant where the pad site is.

  • I can almost see my house in that overhead view, but not quite. I feel for my neighbors on Sul Ross who used to back up to a couple of bungalow businesses but now will have the joy of hearing the CVS dumpster being emptied at 4 in the morning.

    50 yards south used to be a Bambalino’s Pizza. The JitB was between Alabama and Westheimer, kinda where one of those mattress stores used to be.

    On the east side there used to be a Frenchy’s next door to a Dunkin Donuts. Man, those were some good fast food eatin’ times.

  • Geez, another fucking drug store. Give me a break.

  • That’s awful. There goes the neighborhood – again. Why not just make Montrose into one big shopping center?

  • The double-yellow regulation on Shepherd indicates each no passing (hah) and no left turns. Aside from that, as the construction continues along the street… well, the drive through “pad site” will be very, very unattractive to developers for at least a year to come.
    Consider: after traffic woes on Shepherd you’ll need some aspirin and what better than getting honked at for turning left into the lot? Or even BETTER is that more motorists will use it to make the ultimate cut-through left from Shepherd to W. Alabama!!
    BTW– I had heard rumor of a Pollo Lloco opening in the Cat-Vet property… any more on that?
    PS: And so sorry for Roeder’s/Maxwell’s/Cue N’ Cushion. LOVE the smilely spray-painted on Ruchie’s, though!

  • As noted by Purple City, this inferior sub-urban layout – hostile to people on bikes or foot and the neighborhood in general – appears to be totally up to code in Houston. In fact, building a walkable urban form is illegal at this location as it is further than a quarter mile walk from a ln existing or proposed light rail station – the only part of Houston allowed to use the Urban Corridors ordinance. A developer would need to request a variance from an unelected commission to build in a safe, neighborhood friendly way.

  • CVSs are like cockroaches. Stop feeding them.

  • Chris’s Coney Island.

  • @NewHoustonian: Those security patrols at the Alabama Center must be a fairly new thing. One afternoon, my vehicle was broken into in the parking lot behind Trader Joe’s. I discovered afterward that there were no security cameras or other security measures for the parking area. Weingarten Realty is the landlord.

  • This highlights how Houston is just a suburban city with urban tendencies…

    And Larry, while the data is true, the difference is the design of those “chain” shops in NYC or even LA (compared to the Houston aesthetic) look nothing like they do in Houston… they actually look like they’re in the middle of a large city.

  • Yes, the 25-ft setback requirements are idiotic. But the development ordinance does have a carve-out to allow street facing retail on 5-ft setbacks with parking in the rear. My guess is that CVS just preferred this layout, as it makes it clear to potential customers that parking is available. (Also, it allows for a drive-thru.)

  • @artfox
    I think the term is slumlord. I don’t know how long there has been security, so it could be fairly recent. It may even have happened due to pressure from Martha Turner, who is now selling the condos on Kipling. She also got weingarten to close off the dumpster and loading area near Petsmart.
    Anyway, large dark parking lots make the area worse for pedestrians and nearby residents. This is the exact opposite of development.

  • @Chris M (2)

    Actually turning left across double yellow lines is allowed. However, in this case, there is a sign at the intersection prohibiting a left turn in that particular spot. You can actually go past the intersection and legally turn left onto a cross street or into a parking lot, as long as there are no signs specifically prohibiting it.


  • CVS does not build ALL their stores using the same blueprint. They do in Houston because they can get away with it, city code encourages it, and land values are not high enough to make suburban style development cost prohibitive. If you want to see an “urban” CVS store in another large, car-centric city, take a look at this Google Streetview of the store at Beverly Blvd. and La Cienega in Los Angeles. This area of LA is the rough equivalent of Montrose or Upper Kirby in Houston.

  • I think the set back rules have nothing to do with developers choosing strip malls over urban designs. The planning commission gives out variances for the set back rules like a grandmother giving out candy on Halloween. The only people who get caught by the set back rules are the little guys who do not have the weight to throw around. Almost every big apartment complex that has gone up in Houston recently has been able to get a variance on set back and building line.

  • Re yellow lines: the yellow lines are interrupted at the side-street intersections to make it clearer that you can legally turn down these side streets.

    Re urban CVS: The Aladdin restaurant at Montrose and Westheimer was a CVS for a brief period of time. Talk about walkability!

    Re entrance on W. Alabama — that’s the only way this could work. Notice the xx,xxx CPD numbers in the overhead image. I’m pretty sure those are cars-per-day numbers. It’s hard enough to turn left off of Shepherd into a side street; it would be impossible to turn left into that parking lot. W. Alabama has roughly 40% as much traffic, so it makes sense to have the entrance there.

    I still wish they were making this more walkable. I mean, I’ll still walk there, but it’s pretty ugly.

    I just realized the red zone of the parking lot is for the fast food pad site for lease. CoH code requires 32 spaces for that square footage, so that’s what all of that open space at the corner is for.

    Traffic going into that pad site is going to make for a serious cluster, with the cars backed up behind the one idiot who absolutely has to turn left to get his double bacon cheeseburger and fries. As it is, at peak times pre-construction the northbound traffic was backing up almost three blocks to West Main, and that’s with no left turns and, as I said, before the construction limited Shepherd to one lane each direction a little farther north.

  • Oh CVS cool. Is there any organized movement to get something done about the setback requirement? Can we not amend the code to preserve the existing setback an an option so that if new construction goes in a developer at least has the option of keeping the neighborhood character? Be curious what people in the know have to say about this.

  • I, too, would be interested in any movement to overhaul the setback requirements.

  • Cat Vet Clinic moved at least 2 years ago; weird seeing them mentioned since they’ve been on White Oak Drive for quite awhile now. I believe the property has since been used for Dog Adoptions… not that it matters anymore.

  • I know a bunch of people are lamenting the loss of small businesses, but come on guys! That complex was a dump. The central unit sat empty for almost 4 years. Roeders rarely pulled a crowd, I have no idea how they stayed in business. The Cat adoption place is only there because the vet that moved out of it couldn’t seem to sell the property. The only real losses there are Ruchi’s and the River Oaks dry cleaner. Just look across the street. The large corner unit in the complex sat empty for almost 2 years, and what do we get when it does fill? A mattress store. Great. Just what Shepherd needs one more of. Sure we got Jugs, which is great. But we’ll see how long that lasts. You can’t just say “oh joy this area sure would be great for small businesses!”. That has to be backed up by actual facts. Look at the complex across from the Davenport. That place has been empty for almost 5 years (I’m actually a bit suspicious there is some larger problem there, it’s just too good a lot to stay empty like that). The whole strip mall attached to Stag’s head is a wasteland, as is the one across Greenbriar. There is a surplus of unused frontage for small business in the immediate area, some of which even has great parking (the place next to the Davenport).
    CVS may be boring and not have that hip factor people like in Montrose, but its a heck of a lot better than the unused storefronts that litter the area.
    I will, however, admit that I have a selfish interest in this since it will put a CVS in walking distance for me….

  • One correction/omission. The loss of Fly High Little Bunny will be tough too. That place was really cool. Friendly couple who ran the place and their daughter would always help out with the sales, it was pretty cute. I hope they land on their feet. Wonder how many people here lamenting the loss of this property ever visited any of these companies.

  • Yikes. More ugly suburban sprawl dumped into the Inner Loop. Obviously CVS doesn’t give a crap about customizing it’s sites to the neighborhood. That is one of the reasons I shop elsewhere.

  • THE reason the COH will grant variances is because the developers have made “contributions” = legal bribes , to the egotistical /megalomaniacal annise parkers campaign fund or some pet project she is lording over… That is how it REALLY works in this half-ass town. And she claims she is responsible for Houstons economic miracle. Yeah right ,Annise.. Another self anointed ,self defined elitist charlatan…

  • This reminds me of the battle between citizens in Galveston and CVS. When they built at the prime corner of Broadway and 25th, they wanted to build a suburban style store with front parking. Talk about screwing up a prime corner…….. It was a long drawn out battle to get them to modify their plans. History, how appropriate the design, urban setting, none of it matters when shareholder profits are the main business driver.

  • Padraig..you’ve got some issues to work on! I mean, really? Better watch out, I hear Annise is after you now! And she has warned Santa as well!

  • Add me to the chorus of “No more drugstores or banks” for our beloved city. There really isn’t a shortage of either so cry me a river if one needs to be built – heck, with the advent of smartphone apps, you can deposit your checks without a branch – and you can have your drugs mail-ordered so just roll to your mailbox.
    But, that strip center has languished for a number of years even with the huge amount of car traffic on choked South Shepherd. So, the economist in me feels that invisible hand will take care of everything (problematic traffic, ugly suburban style CVS, et cetera) in time.
    For my part, I will continue to boycott all CVS (and Walgreens) stores since they are soulless bastions of the industrial-pharmaceutical complex.