The grass is always greener at proposed Montrose H-E-B, if funds can be foundfor land preservation
For some Montrose residents, the grass is always greener on the other side of West Alabama and Dunlavy streets.
Still blighted with the memory of the derelict Art Deco Wilshire Village apartments, the site — slated to be an H-E-B supermarket — has become an open, urban prairie of tall grass.
But H-E-B isn't resting on its sprouting laurels. The company, which closed on the property just two weeks ago, has informed the grassroots Montrose Land Defense Coalition that their scheme for the site will preserve two acres.
The building itself will have a 70,000 sq. ft. footprint, about the same size as H-E-B Buffalo Market, although the interior and exterior will have substantially different design schemes. In an email to the land coalition, H-E-B CEO Scott McClelland explained that the design will be a "store on stilts" format, allowing for parking underneath (and more greenspace on the lot). The store will back up to West Alabama and face south, saving a large portion of the old-growth oaks spotting the campus.
A promising scheme by architect Robert Morris allows for a "rainwater harvesting" pond with two fountains, a waterfall and footbridges, a "family meadow" on the southeast side and a "performance meadow" on the southwest side, complemented by a "performance shell" for live events. The infrastructure also includes outdoor dining tables immediately outside the supermarket, a plein-air artisans market to the south and independent shops (topped by office space) on the northern end of the lot. A retaining wall along the perimeter would be available for local artists to paint.
"I'm excited about the prospects of building something very unique," McClelland writes. "This really has the potential to be unlike anything else in the state."
H-E-B is attaching a limited amount of generosity to the plans, stating that the corporation will require $3 million to preserve the land and offer it for park development.
McClelland has met with Joe Turner, director of Houston Parks & Recreation, who informed him that the city doesn't have the funds to defray the cost. H-E-B is now calling upon the Montrose Land Defense Coalition, a small organization of community activists, to cultivate millions of dollars to offset the cost of placing the building on stilts and offering the extra land.
Still, a final architect has yet to be determined. Instead, H-E-B plans to present three blueprints upon which the community can vote. So far two of the three mock-ups have been finalized, with the third in the works. Check back at CultureMap for details on the charrette.
Time will tell whether a food supply corporation and Montrose's self-sovereignty can coexist. In the meantime, the fern gully across Fiesta continues to grow under the summer's torrential rains.
But H-E-B promises to cut the grass as soon as the rains let up — good news for some neighbors who have called City Council member Sue Lovell's office complaining that the property needs to be mowed.
Update 9:59 a.m. Thursday: Reports are coming in that the tall grass was mowed this morning.