What the Montrose Land Defense Coalition Really Wants To See at Wilshire Village

About 100 people showed up to that Saturday protest on the former site of the Wilshire Village Apartments, organized by a group calling itself the Montrose Land Defense Coalition. Organizers had originally expressed a desire to have the 7.68-acre site at the southwest corner of West Alabama and Dunlavy be turned into a park. Protesters told reporters they wanted the property’s trees preserved. But the organization’s website now features this clarification:

The aim of our campaign is not to alienate or place our Coalition in direct opposition to any one entity seeking to develop the land. We are concerned with the degree to which communities have a say in the development of land directly adjacent to their places of residence.

Specifically, organizer Maria-Elisa Heg tells Swamplot,

We are still fighting for a green space, a public commons, and we need to show HEB that they need to be mindful of smart urban planning.

And . . . uh, they have some plans for the site to present — shown to them by an unnamed “group of architects”:


(West Alabama appears to be at the far left, Dunlavy near the top in the drawing.)

It includes space for a permanent, covered market, boardwalks and outdoor spaces for restaurants and cafes, all within the philosophy of preserving the integrity of the lot as a positive outdoor commons for the residents of Montrose. The proposal seeks also to achieve LEED platinum certification for all buildings, and we are researching the potential to also satisfy LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) standards using the framework of this plan. LEED Neighborhood Development standards emphasize the use of “mixed use development[s]” that “encourage walking, bicycling, and public transportation for daily errands and commuting.”

H-E-B representatives have said that the company plans to open a Montrose grocery store in that location by the end of next year, though plans are “in the very, very early stages.”

Photo: River Oaks Examiner. Plan: Montrose Land Defense Coalition

42 Comment

  • How does this group plan to pay for this? Someone who’s running a business would realized that you can’t make money with this concept they are proposing.

    The price of the land is demanding that more come from it than what they are proposing.

  • I love my kooky neighborhood. Those protest signs actually incorporate rainbows and hearts. Viva Montrose.

  • If their protests help find a donor, more power to ’em. But we’ll all have to pay for the upkeep and the lighting and the security, etc…

  • That parking solution is uninspired.

  • “I love my kooky neighborhood. Those protest signs actually incorporate rainbows and hearts. Viva Montrose.”

    And as the picture proves, if it’s happening in Montrose, Clayton shows up in his hat to photograph it. :D

  • Reason number 8 billion I would never live in Montrose

  • And by “an unnamed group of architects”, they probably meant a newbie Sim City player or something. Ick.

  • Get lost, NIMBY’s.

  • Putting an HEB at the Wilshire Village site is less tenable than a LEED Platinum market. I live in the neighborhood. I can already walk to four different grocery stores. Two of them are five-minute walks. I can drive to the Lake Flato HEB on Buffalo Speedway in about ten minutes. Maybe there is some computer model telling the HEB executives to build another store in the area but it defies common sense. It would make more sense to build Ashby Highrise there.

  • Yeah, how dare these people think they should have any right to express an opinion on what goes on in their neighborhood!

  • From Suwoopgang:

    Reason number 8 billion I would never live in Montrose

    How very sad!

    And here we were about to get a petition together to try and get you to be our neighbor!!

  • Yeah, how dare these people think they should have any right to express an opinion on what goes on in their neighborhood!


    How dare they.

    It’s not their neighborhood. They don’t own it.

    I live in a nieghborhood that has a large undeveloped wooded lot. The thought that I should have any say in how it gets developed would never enter my mind. Why would I want to set a precedent of neighborhood busy-bodies that can tell other people what to do with their property? Sounds like a homeowners association to me.

  • jgriff,

    How dare you think you have the right to express an opinion about what these people should be expressing an opinion about! (Unless, of course, you own them. Do you?)

  • Raj, thats why HEB want to build you a more convenient market. They are committed to the walkable ethos and heard that at the moment you have to … horrors … drive to HEB. I would think you would be overjoyed at their desire to give you a more walkable HEB shopping experience.

  • Aside from the uninspired parking arrangement (which doesn’t meet city standards), I actually like the concept behind the proposed site plan. It’s an interesting way to develop the site and preserve the green space. The arrangement and relationship of built space to open space roughly follows the footprint of the garden style apartments, giving a clue to the site’s former occupant. The linear plan lends itself to a variety of commercial occupancies; it’s like a strip mall that has been deconstructed and plopped in a park-like setting. The question is: can a strip mall succeed without the immediate adjacency of a parking lot? I’m tempted to say no, especially in Houston.

  • I’m so sick of these types of people; who think they have the right to determine what property owners do with their own property – in a city without any zoning, design reviews, or any required public input regarding development. It takes a lot of nerve, and a lack of good manners, to do what these people keep doing in this town; butting into other people’s business. (Ashby, for example) When will these people actually grow a pair and take these “protests” where they belong – to the ballot box voting FOR zoning? If they are not willing to do that, they should sit down and shut up.

  • From Suwoopgang:

    We who live here are glad you don’t. Keep it that way.

  • Sounds like a classic case of Southampton Syndrome to me…

  • I, for one, am looking forward to driving my hummer in from the suburbs to shop at this HEB when it’s inevitably built.

    Suck it, hippies. Come back when you have money for your ‘plans.’

  • I, for one, am looking forward to driving my hummer in from the suburbs to shop at this HEB when it’s inevitably built.


    Just leave the Stepford Wife at home, ok? They always remember something they forgot just as they are being rung up. And return 30 minutes later remembering it was at Walgreen’s. “Silly me…” And then they pull out the thousand coupons.

  • Southamptom / Montrose alliance? If there were a working class “minority” community added in, would it be politically powerful enough for a real shot at zoning or form-based codes or expanded deed restriction ordinances or some other kind of serious land use planning?

  • I always get behind the ditz who thinks everybody has ten minutes to let Bratley attempt to swipe the card and punch the numbers in.

    Just wondering – I keep hearing the argument that the HEB will be good because it will be within “walking distance”. Do people really take regular shopping trips to buy so little that it can be hand-carried home? And since when can hippies afford to live in Montrose anymore?

  • Having a say on what gets built in the nearby property is just silly. Houston is for speculators and investors and individual homeowners are but speed bumps on the road to (something.) A rendering plant, a titty bar – no rules about who moves in next door!
    This is why people flee to the planned communities. I say again; Houston – Its a Crap Shoot.

  • There’s a lot of “How dare they’s” in these comments. I think the number of people who really want to dictate what someone does with their property is minimal. Having locals — the future customers — suggest what appeals to them is a win-win on all accounts. I think that’s all this is. Nothing wrong with neighbors asking a developer to be considerate is there? It’s the difference between the developer who clear cuts a lot and builds 40 foot block busting townhomes and the one that tries to build something to scale and keeps a few trees. Of course it is the developer’s prerogative to do what he wants, but good ones will keep the reasonable concerns of the neighbors in mind. It’s called being neighborly.

    I’ll say it again, I think HEB is smart enough to know it’s unwise to alienate the neighborhood by blacktopping the property and dropping a box on it. They’ll win that market by catering to the hood.

  • I know it is hard for some folks to believe but I walk to the grocery store and carry a couple bags the few blocks home. I am not cooking for a family of five though so that makes it easier. I also don’t do it in the rain. If I buy more than 1-2 days food it seems to just go bad anyway. I’ve lived in New York, Chicago and DC, so I haven’t adjusted to car culture. I pay a hefty premium to live in Montrose which is about as good as it gets and in Houston. No other area is as walkable.

    @John, jgriff and others here is a newsflash; people have a right to express an opinion. In the end, their input will make this a better project. Unlike the Ashby mess, there are probably not a lot of deep pockets to hold this up in court. What the neighbors are advocating is responsible development which is not too much to ask for.

    I expect that HEB will want neighborhood input. Most good developers might hate the process but realize that getting neighborhood support helps with moving their project forward. Having support and buy-in from the neighbors is far better than going to court.

  • Message to all: If you don’t like what “they” are going to do with it, buy it yourself.

  • @SL

    so the moral is – unless you have money (lots of it) you have no right to express concern about the way your neighborhood develops?

    Christ almighty people – I don’t have enough money to buy my neighbors house, does that mean I have no right to be concerned if he paints a swastika in his front door?

  • People the right to any opinion and view, but standing out in the street bitching with signs doesn’t accomplish anything.

    If they truly cared, they could attend and make public comments at the city council committee and subcommittee meetings dealing with Chapter 42. These meetings are where neighborhood rules and regulations are shaped by public input.

  • Message to you @ SL, if you don’t like it then you shouldn’t read this blog. You are absolutely wrong. Even without zoning “the people” have plenty of right to dictate what is developed. Development can be blocked based on land use or ancillary issues such as traffic or liquor licenses. You can open a bar or porn shop wherever you want but if you can’t sell alcohol or porn you aren’t going to be very successful.

    I am far more of a property owner’s rights person than my response is making me sound but saying that there is no right for input takes it to the illogical extreme.

  • to miss_msry and Vonroach… ..reason number 8 billion 1 and 2 that I don’t want to live in Montrose..two hippies
    who don’t want to live in the real world…. why don’t you go count your monopoly money and see how rich you are…this is business unless you hippie rejects haven’t realized…go save save some dolphins losers

  • Suwoopgang,

    Thanks for being an idiot and insulting people with opinions.

    While I may not agree with the people you are putting down, I don’t ever feel the need to insult them.

  • Kjb- they’ve taken their concerns to the public and have received a decent amount of coverage. That’s part of the battle. Honestly, how many of us would have been aware if their concerns on these issues were only raised in city council meetings?

  • kjb – don’t get me started on Chapter 42. Most council members have only a vague idea of what is in it and the Planning Commission, who should rightly be making recommendations, is mostly people whose paycheck depend on new construction. All members are appointed by the Mayor. Of those who show up, only a few are awake and aware. And their decisions cannot be reversed or appealed – howz THAT for a democratic process. Power to the people!

  • If their numbers grow in supporters, then it was worth it.

    In then end, their work does nothing but create a media firestorm that will die down before HEB makes any real movement forward toward construction. There aren’t many road blocks that can stop HEB in this project.

    HEB doesn’t have to push to many permits through to get this facility built. The land doesn’t need to be subdivided. At most they’ll need an driveway access on Alabama. They have two existing ones on Dunlavy. Other permits will deal with water and sewer requests, but I bet those were already handled when recently. Remember the work that just went on in the neighboring streets?

  • The Planning Commission only makes decisions when there is a challenge or a variance. If VALID concerns are brought up to the commission by the community, there are quite often compromises.

    It may be undemocratic, but it is much more flexible in allowing outsider input to change results than a zoning board will ever be.

  • Weak.
    What’s with the petitions and the rainbows and unicorns? Renderings? Real hippys would squat on the land, throw up some tents to sell their bead jewelry and homemade hippy stuff until the police and/or bulldozers come. 21st century Montrose is full of pussies. 20 bucks sez the guy with the hearts on his sign is in line on opening day ready to fill his hemp messenger bag with organic chicken breasts and a sustainably farmed pomengranate flavored something or other at the overpriced new neighborhood-centric HEB.

  • I met some of the protesters at the Menil Collection Art Fest on Saturday. Good for them. I enourage more neighborhood particiaption and opinion on what residents want from a potential business moving into their neighborhoods. A good healthy neighborhood cares about what goes on the community. If suburban subdivisions had a bit of sense of community, they would not have so many strip malls with chains all around them, including the rich ones!

  • “I encourage more neighborhood particiaption and opinion on what residents want from a potential business moving into their neighborhoods.”

    Exactly. A concerned neighborhood is usually a good neighborhood. Granted, some people can get very emotional regarding such, but I can’t pretend wouldn’t be upset if I drove past my childhood home and found a vacant lot. Would I have the right to tell whoever owned it what to do? No. Would I feel better if same lot was turned into something I agreed would benefit the community at large? Probably. Would trying to help bring such about be tilting at windmills? Most likely. But not trying would feel like a betrayal.

    Tomorrow I’ll be raising a glass to the ancestors who endured weeks on a coffin ship, probably courtesy of some of my English ancestors, so I could have the privilege of cussing out my leaky sink and mowing my lawn in the withering heat of summer. I propose a day’s truce on land and all those who believe they know the best use for it. :)

  • and as you raise your glass, ponder this wee riddle:
    What’s Irish and comes out in the Spring?
    Operators are standing by.

  • Patio Furniture. And possibly a proud leprechaun or two.

  • If they truly cared, they could attend and make public comments at the city council committee and subcommittee meetings dealing with Chapter 42. These meetings are where neighborhood rules and regulations are shaped by public input.

    And if the politicians truly cared, they would write ordinances based on those public comments. Instead, as soon as the meetings are over, they ask the developers what they want and create the loopholes to make it appear they listened to the people. Instead of the big bucks that buy City Hall.

  • Not sure this is even noteworthy, but based on size and location it seems the latest planning commission agenda lists a “Lancaster Center Subdivision” under platting activity for the former Wilshire site. Applicant: Bury Partners, Developer: Texas Abercrombie Interests, LTD