I was thinking last week that I didn’t have a good feel for the geography of the site for the proposed “Heights” Wal-Mart. So I figured the thing to do was to drive over there and take a few pictures. I did that on Friday morning, and put them into this Flickr set for your perusal. There are comments on each picture, and here are a few additional thoughts.
– The south side of this property is bounded by the train tracks that come in from 290 and continue on into downtown. Unless a new road is built from Bonner to Yale on the north side of these tracks, the site will have no access on the south.
– Bonner is the west edge. It’s not a street so much as it is two cul-de-sacs, one on each side of Koehler, with the southern cul-de-sac terminating at the tracks, and the northern one dead-ending before I-10. You could, as I noted before, extend Bonner across the tracks, to meet its corresponding cul-de-sac on the north side, and the I-10 service road extension may connect to it as well, though I have no idea if TxDOT plans to do that or not. Without at least one of those additions, you could have an entrance to the site on Bonner, but you’d only be able to get to it via Koehler.
– While the property extends to Koehler to the north, the northwest corner of the site, at Koehler and Bonner, is the home of Berger Iron Works, which is very much a going operation, and quite a cool one from the look of it. It fronts on Bonner, with a small office and attached employee parking lot across the street, but the shop, which fronts on Koehler, has street access. I don’t know how much traffic this generates.
– Koehler runs from Yale to Shepherd/Durham and points west from there. It is also the entry and exit point for San Jacinto Stone, which was already receiving customers and sending out trucks at 7:30 AM, which is about the time I took these pictures. West of Bonner, it’s residential, with cars parked on both sides of the street. That will be an issue if Koehler becomes an entry point for this Wal-Mart, since with cars parked on even one side, Koehler is too narrow for bidirectional traffic. It also has “traffic-calming devices” on it, also known as speed bumps, which suggests to me that the residents in this area were complaining about cut-through traffic long ago. Koehler also has no sidewalks and open drainage ditches, so no one will be walking to Wal-Mart as it is currently configured.
– There’s another little cul-de-sac north of Koehler between Yale and Bonner, called Bass Court, which like Bonner dead-ends before I-10. According to this Chron story, it will be widened and will connect to the service road extension. As with Bonner, there are people living there. I have no idea what they think about having a Wal-Mart so close by.
– There are a couple of streets that extend west from Bonner between Koehler and the tracks: Schuler, which is closest to the tracks and which ends at Patterson; and Eli, which extends to Durham/Shepherd and thus could also serve as access to the Wal-Mart site. I did not explore either of these streets. There’s a large abandoned commercial site at Schuler and Bonner that is currently for sale. Eli appears to be residential.
– I’ve said that Bonner is a cul-de-sac on the north side of the train tracks as well, but that’s not really true. It meets up with Allen Street, which then proceeds west right next to the tracks. Connecting the two sides of Bonner would make Allen Street another access road for the site. As it happens, the morning I was taking these pictures, I met a young man on the north side of Bonner who was walking his dogs. He lives in the apartments that front on Center and back up to the train tracks. I asked him if he’d heard about the Wal-Mart, and he said he’d heard rumors about a grocery store being built there. I told him Wal-Mart had bought the property, and he immediately expressed concern about the traffic it would bring. Make of that what you will.