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Ready or not, here comes Wal-Mart

It’s a done deal.

Wal-Mart has placed 16 acres of land in the Washington Avenue corridor under contract, company spokeswoman Kellie Duhr confirmed Thursday. The deal comes two days after concerned Heights-area residents voiced their opposition to the project to the Houston City Council.

Though some council members complimented the residents on their proactive efforts and passion for their neighborhood, most stressed the city can do little to stop Wal-Mart from building a reportedly 152,000-square-foot store near Yale and Koehler. Property owner The Ainbinder Co. holds 24 acres in the area and plans a retail development anchored by the Supercenter.

Mayor Annise Parker said she and Councilman Ed Gonzalez, whose District H includes the Heights area, plan to form a committee of nearby residents and businesses through which the community can articulate its concerns. Gonzalez was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Parker said the aim of the group would be “not to stop the project, but to make sure that whatever goes in there, that at least we attempt to negotiate mitigations to potential neighborhood impacts.”

I’m not sure how much actual leverage the city has here, though I’m sure the 4000+ members of Stop the Heights Wal-Mart will be scouring the city’s codes to see what they can make happen. Let’s just say this is going to be interesting to watch.

By the way, a little searching showed that Excited About the Heights Wal-Mart has four (count ’em) fans, and Bring On the Heights Wal-Mart has 21. I wouldn’t call any of this scientific, but that’s a pretty strong statement of public opinion.

Also by the way, there’s now a Stop Heights Wal-Mart website. They’re collecting money for yard signs to be distributed during White Linen Night. I’m sure I’ll publish a picture of said sign when I see one in the ‘hood.

Speaking of pictures, there’s some action going on at the site. I snapped these yesterday from Yale:

Some sort of construction on the Wal-Mart site

The entrance to the construction site

Not sure what exactly they’re doing, but there it is. See They Are Building A Wal-Mart On My Street for more.

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  1. Ron in Houston says:

    I do wonder whether the opposition would be as strong if it were simply a mixed retail development rather than the “evil empire” Walmart.

  2. Martin says:

    I think one of the major issues is the type and style Walmart typically chooses to use in its development. Walmart has a place. Even though I generally think their labor practices are shameful, I have shopped there before.

    The problem I see ultimately though is that if the inner loop of Houston (and the Washington Ave. corridor in particular) ever wants to be walkable, adding a Walmart (with the huge frontal parking lot, massive set back, etc.) is not a step in the right direction. Because of that type of very un-pedestrian-friendly development, even the people who live in adjacent town homes and apartments in the area who want to visit Walmart will likely drive. Such development, especially in more crowded urban environments, inevitably leads to gridlock and terrible traffic. Just look what happened around the Target off Washington. I avoid that place like the plague now.