Many know the saga of the Heights H-E-B announcing its presence in the Heights from the store’s victorious efforts in a campaign that ultimately overturned a section of the Heights dry ordinance. But the vacant lot at the corner of 23rd Street and North Shepherd Drive (designated for the creation upon Prop 1’s passing) has sat virtually untouched since the proposition’s passing in November, driving many to inquire about the spot’s future, which has once again experienced a setback.
In October of 2016, when the site was first unveiled to the public, Houston Division President Scott McClelland told The Leader that they hoped it would be up and running by January of 2018. In December, however, McClelland informed citizens that inclement weather and outside forces conspired to force the San Antonio-based grocer to delay work by several months, resulting in an estimated March 2018 opening; and now the opening has been delayed once again.
“We will start to break ground the week of August 21, so site work will begin on September 25, and we’re looking at a late summer (back-to-school) opening around August 2018,” McClelland said.
Last December, the grocery giant revealed plans to propose a variance request which would build the store out an additional 15 feet to add a parking garage. In asking for the exception in city code that would allow the grocery giant to extend the store out to just 10 feet off Shepherd Drive (as opposed to the 25 feet typically required by city ordinance), McClelland said H-E-B’s aim remains to create an environment conducive to resident comfort and one that reflects the community within which it resides. Unfortunately, however, he said that after having the variance to change the orientation of the store approved, H-E-B was forced to re-permit the store with the city — an arduous and lengthy process for even the most level-headed business owner.
“That pushed the entire project back by several months,” he said Monday afternoon.
The setback came as a surprise even to McClelland upon his recent return from vacation Monday, but he assured the public that H-E-B remains committed to bringing their vision to fruition in the Heights sooner rather than later.
“Nobody is more interested than me (in getting this thing started),” he said. “The Heights is my dream store to get built. Good things come to those who wait, I promise.
Washington Corridor on track
While various factors have caused the anticipation to last a bit longer in the Heights, H-E-B’s ever-growing presence in The Leader community is moving right along in another corridor.
In May, developers broke ground on a parcel of land at the corner of Washington Avenue and South Heights Boulevard which has been designated by Houston-based Midway Companies as the anchor for an integrated, mixed-use property termed Buffalo Heights.
The approximately 96,000-square-foot store will be part of the first phase of development for Buffalo Heights set on approximately four acres of land at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Heights Boulevard, offering proximity to the Heights and surrounding neighborhoods.
McClelland said the store remains on course for its targeted Spring 2019 opening.