The controversial proposed Walmart development just outside the historic Houston Heights appears to be edging toward done-deal status. The 380 agreement between developer Ainbinder and the City of Houston — which would establish obligations for Ainbinder and Walmart to fulfill as well as provide $6 million in taxpayer money for the project from the city — is now available online and on the docket for Wednesday morning's city council meeting.
Opponents of the project complain that the agreement is being pushed through without adequate time to complete studies of the development's impact. In addition, 380 agreements are usually used to aid in the completion of projects that provide public good and otherwise couldn't be completed.
Ainbinder, in contrast, has indicated that it's capable of completing the project without city reimbursement, although the 380 may be viewed as a means to obligate the developer to area residents and procure improvements beyond what's required by law. Without a 380 agreement, the developer could build anyway with no obligation to make improvements above and beyond what's required or take area residents' feedback into consideration. Establishing incentives like those offered in the 380 can be seen as a way to maintain some control over the developer.
The ready-to-sign agreement goes to vote tomorrow at City Hall.
My unsolicited advice? It's not over yet, but we may very well be welcoming an inner-Loop Walmart. It might be best to get your two cents in while you can about what you'd like to see from the new development and your logistical concerns about its impact on the surrounding area.
Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Suggestions," or we'll see you at the city council meeting Wednesday morning.