H-E-B Plans New Galleria-Area Store; More Apartments Torn Down to Make Way

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In 2010, Montrose residents were upset to find out that the languishing Wilshire Village apartment complex, built in the 1940s, were scheduled for demolition after Texas grocery giant H-E-B purchased the large parcel of land at Dunlavy and West Alabama.

Later that year, West University residents were upset to find out that the new H-E-B planned for Buffalo Speedway wouldn't include room for the beloved Buffalo Grill which had occupied its spot at the corner of Bissonnet for 26 years. The diner was forced to move to a new location a few blocks away on Weslayan.

Now, the grocer has announced plans to construct a new store at the corner of San Felipe and Fountain View, a site currently occupied by the sprawling Tanglewood Court apartment complex. But unlike these previous situations, no one seems particularly sad to see the Galleria-area apartments go.

"I'm so excited that they're razing those apartments," said Jody Stevens, owner of Jodycakes, who lived in an adjoining apartment complex for several years before moving in 2012. "There was a lot of in and out traffic that was kind of sketchy. I think it's a good thing."

One ex-resident of the Tanglewood Court apartments agreed, stating on Twitter: "I lived there 2000-2004. Rat problem. They're in really bad shape now."

H-E-B says it will be modeling the format of the new Galleria-area store on the Montrose Market store that was eventually built on the site of the Wilshire Village apartments, a design which won two Urban Land Institute awards earlier this year. It was this design that went a long way toward appeasing Montrose residents, who were asked for their input on the new store's layout and whose wishes to leave the property's old oak trees intact were mostly honored.

With this new H-E-B coming in, the older -- albeit very busy -- H-E-B just down the street at the corner of Fountain View and Westheimer will be "relocated," according to a press release issued last week. The news prompted one person to joke on Twitter: "It's okay. They will probably tear down the old H-E-B and put apartments there anyways."

Although Stevens no longer lives in the area, she's excited to see the new development along San Felipe -- mostly for the traffic it will drive to the small restaurants and bars along Fountain View.

"It's going to be good for all those little businesses in that strip center," she said. "La Vista, Fountain View Cafe."

It likely won't be good business, however, for the sole Rice Epicurean that's left in Houston, which occupies a spot in the very middle of that same strip center. All four of the other homegrown grocery stores were announced to be closing earlier this year, with the Fountain View location as the last hold-out.

Could this be the final nail in the coffin for the old grocery store? The answer is more than a year away. H-E-B plans to open its new San Felipe store in fall 2014.

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