Sure, there’s been a whole lotta talk lately about how In-N-Out Burger is on its way to the redo of Texas Instruments’ 192-acre Stafford campus that developers have dubbed The Grid. But what about those not-yet-named retailers that renderings put out by Gensler, the architect for the project, show taking over the air conditioning towers that TI left behind at the site? The photo above shows what those decommissioned cooling units looks like right now.
They sit behind the centerpiece of the site, TI’s abandoned office building:
That’s El Rancho’s signage taking the place of Randalls’ in the photo above — which views the Keegan’s Meadow shopping center from the north along W. Bellfort. At 53,200 sq.-ft., the new Stafford store will be slightly bigger than El Rancho’s one other Houston location, opened along I-45 just inside the Beltway in June. There, all the typical grocery standards are present, along with a butcher shop, seafood counter, produce section, and bakery. Plus, there are some extras: a tortilleria and in-house Latin-American-style kitchen.
Two more El Ranchos are in the works, too: the first further up the North Fwy. on the outskirts of Spring, and the other in the old Oak Forest Randalls,gone from 34th St. since earlier this year.
Yet another Randalls is seeing itself out of a major shopping center space — this one in the Keegan’s Meadow complex at the corner of W. Bellfort Ave. and S. Kirkwood Rd. in Stafford. The photo above looks beyond the pumps at the grocery chain’s street-fronting gas station to show the store decorated with a liquidation sign identical to the one that’s currently posted on the Oak Forest location. The white Randalls lettering on the 53,250-sq.-ft. grocery store at 11711 W. Bellfort came down last month from the façade now taken up by the banner. An in-storeWells Fargo branch occupies the northeastern portion of the store, opposite the Avalon Discount Liquor adjacent to the its west side.
An enormous flock of Purple Martins has gathered in and around the parking lot of the Fountains Shopping Center facing the Southwest Freeway in Stafford, where they’ve taken up a noisy nighttime roost on nearby power lines and the allée of oak trees that leads through the concrete expanse to Rack Room Shoes and Old Navy. This is likely the same group that hung out in Sharpstown or the eastside KBR campus in previous years, on its way to Brazil; it appears to be the birds’ first window-shopping experience at Mattress Giant.
59 BORDERS: THE END Late addition to the Borders Books store closing list: The company’s 27,483-sq.-ft. store at that retention-pond-by-the-freeway shopping center in Stafford, Fountains on the Lake. The Stafford location is expected to be the only Houston-area casualty of the company’s bankruptcy, and is scheduled to close by “late May.” It and 2 dozen other stores around the country were added to the 200-store axe list at the end of last week. [Revised closing list (PDF); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Melissa M.
LITTLE GRAND PARKWAY ON THE PRAIRIE NOT SO SHOVEL-READY AFTER ALL Those pesky federal regulators, ruining all the fun: It’s now looking like the 15-mile-long Upper Katy Prairie paving project known as the Grand Parkway Segment E won’t be getting the bucket of cash Harris County Commissioners Court wanted. County officials will instead request that the $181 million in federal stimulus funds earlier allocated to the way-out-northwest loop road be distributed to other projects: “The recommendation to withdraw the project from the Texas Department of Transportation’s list of stimulus projects was made by Art Storey, who heads Harris County’s Public Infrastructure Department. Storey declined to comment on his recommendation until it is considered at Harris County Commissioner Court’s meeting next Tuesday. ‘Staff and consultants have worked diligently and successfully to be on schedule to meet the deadlines to enable Segment E construction to qualify for and receive the stimulus funding, but the federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot be completely processed by the required mid-February date,’ Storey said in a letter to the court. ‘In fact, because of conflicts over environmental impacts and mitigation, that permit might never be issued.’” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]
GRAND PARKWAY SPRAWL STIMULUS “The road exemplifies an unintended effect of the stimulus law: an administration that opposes suburban sprawl is giving money to states for projects that are almost certain to exacerbate it.A new master-planned community called Bridgeland is rising on the prairie along the proposed site of the road; once completed, the development is expected to have 21,000 new homes on 11,400 acres. Other developers are eagerly awaiting the new road so they can start building on their empty land, too. . . . [Roger H. Hord, the president of the West Houston Association] pointed out that the road would connect two existing highways and said it would ease congestion on some of Houston’s other beltways. He said that an existing leg of the Grand Parkway, just to the south of the proposed leg, would give a sense of what the new stretch of the Grand Parkway might look like when it is done. The existing stretch is lined with strip malls and gas stations and drug stores and a huge 7,600-acre residential development called Cinco Ranch that is popular with families.” [New York Times]