Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heights Happenings: October 20- November 2, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 6pm – 8pm: Ghoul's Night Out at Buchanan's 

  • Join the Heights favorite nursery for drinks, treats and 25% off all Halloween decor. 

Wednesday, October 19, 5 pm- 7 pm: Yappy Happy Hour at Habitation Realty
  • Realtors Sally Walden and Jena Turner, in conjunction with Adopt a Pet Houston, invite you to our Fall Yappy Hour! Stop by on a this gorgous fall evening to visit the office, mingle, and see the adorable, adoptable puppies of Adopt a Pet Houston. 
  • Wine and Apple Sangria provided by Habitation Realty. Appetizers provided by Will Fitts of First Imperial Mortgage. Please RSVP via Facebook
  • 1332 Yale Street - Near the corner of 14th Street in the Heights
  • Parking available at Height Funeral Home.

Thursday, October 20, 4pm: Edgar Allen Poe readings at Heights Library
  • Houston actor Dean Turner will read Poe's "Tell Tale Heart" and "The Raven." 

Friday, October 21, 7:30 pm: Heights Live! presents Craig Kinsey
  • Craig and band, will play many of your favorite songs that he wrote for the SIDESHOW TRAMPS such as Funeral Song and Tramps and Freaks as well as songs from the Burdener album (Houston Chronicles Top 10 albums of 2008) and new songs from his upcoming ZENHILL release American Roots and Machines.
  • $10, 1 FREE admission if you bring 3 friends. BYOB. 
  • 240 W. 18th

Saturday, October 22, 6pm: "Primo Pronto" opens at Heights Ashbury Coffeehouse

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hope You Love Groceries!

Kroger is basically building a replica of the 11th St store next to Arne's (on those great lots that could be something much more dynamic and beneficial to Houston).

Representatives from Super Neighborhood 22 (The West End) met with CM Gonzales and reps from Kroger to discuss the project. This is what we're getting:

The Kroger Plan
The new store will be about the same size and design as the store on Shepherd at 11th, which will remain open, as will the store on 20th at Yale. The store is expected to open about a year from now (Sept-Oct 2012). The amenities of the store will be similar to those at the 11th Street store. 
The property on which Kroger plans to build lies on the east side of Studemont north of Arne’s. The store will be at the south end of the property, facing the main customer parking lot to the north of the store. A fuel center will be placed at the north end of the property together with a small, secondary parking lot needed to fulfill code requirements.
Delivery docks will be located on the east and west faces of an extension on the south side of the store. The three main delivery dock doors will face east toward an industrial area. A small dock door will face west toward Studemont. 
Hicks will be cut through to meet Summer Street on the east side of the property. The City's intent is that this will become a through street, but there are some unspecified impediments. The portion of the block that is now Hicks will be improved to current City standards, and the whole block will be built like a City CIP project. Kroger will eventually dedicate that property to the City as street Right-of-Way in exchange for a smaller area of water/sewer ROW that the City will dedicate to Kroger. Access to the delivery docks will be from Hicks/Summer. An employee parking lot will occupy the portion of the lot south of Hicks/Summer next to Arne's; Kroger expects that Arne's will also use this lot at some point (possibly for its employees). 
The main entrance to the customer parking area will be just in front of (north of) the store. There will be a new median cut with a traffic signal at this point. The City will be working with Grocer's Supply to move their truck exit to this point. The existing median cut north of there will become a diagonal cut allowing southbound traffic access to the fuel center (and preventing trucks leaving Grocers Supply from cutting across/against traffic to use it to go north). There will be two distinct curb cuts for the fuel center entrance and exit.
There will be a pharmacy drive-through on the west side of the store, entered from the main drive entrance and exiting onto Hicks/Summer. 
Kroger will be doing a lot of landscaping on the median, along their side of the streets, and on their parking lot. I didn't note all the species, but the trees on the parking lot will be mostly Shumard oaks for shade with a few crepe myrtles for color. Texas native shrubs and other plantings were also mentioned. Kroger will be adopting the street and median, and will install an irrigation system to maintain the plants. The sidewalk along their property will be five feet wide (25% above minimum standard). Please find attached to this note three photographs of the Kroger plans displayed at the meeting.

Traffic Study
There was discussion of the effects of the proposed median changes on traffic flow, but there was no mention of formal traffic studies, either for the immediate area or surrounding areas.  
Drainage Plan
When asked about the project’s drainage plan, Kroger representatives told meeting attendees that because the amount of impervious surface is not expected to increase above historic levels that the site is "grand-fathered," meaning that no detention will be required. There was considerable discussion of the desirability of improving the drainage to meet current standards (as if this was a newly developed property). One of the Kroger employees agreed to discuss the feasibility of doing so with their engineering people.   
Planned Contribution to Olivewood Cemetery 
Kroger has also agreed to provide $40,000 for a new fence around Olivewood Cemetery (which lies just west of Grocers Supply).   
Economic Development Agreement(Pursuant to Chapter 380 of the Local Government Code) 
City Council will be considering a request from the administration to enter an Economic Development Agreement (a 380 Agreement) with Kroger pursuant to which Kroger will be reimbursed for improvements made to the City ROW. The reimbursements will be paid from city property and sales tax revenues produced by the Kroger store at this location, will be capped at $2.5M, and will be repaid over a period of 13 years. The 380 agreement is Agenda Item #16 on this week’s City Council agenda. The full text of the agreement is not included in the agenda backup materials posted on the City Secretary’s website. 

From my personal perspective, this project equals an as-if-you-thought-it-could-get-even-worse traffic nightmare on Studewood, a development that will be difficult to ever repurpose due to the gas station and over saturation of the market. Many food deserts still exist with in a few miles of this proposed location. Why not Lindale Park, Eastwood, Independence Heights?

However, a representative from Super Neighborhood 22 had positive things to say about this project, commenting that a grocery has been high on the wish list for the SN council for some time. So, good if the SN, which has a very well thought out plan for their neighborhood, approves. That tells me it's not as bad as I think it is. EDIT: RUMOR has it that SN 22 will actually be coming out against this project after further review. If & when they do, I'll update again.

Still, it leaves me sighing for yet another missed opportunity- and I certainly don't want to see my tax $ go to it. If it was in Independence Heights, a known food desert, I would say "Bring on the 380" but this just leaves me shaking my head. Again.

And for what is sure to be colorful discussion, follow the debate on this morning's Swamplot post.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Heights Happenings: October 5- October 12, 2011

Saturday, October 8, Noon- 4 PM: Craftacular Second Saturday returns!
  • This wonderful outdoor art/craft show is lovingly curated by our friends from Hello, Lucky. 
  • FatCat Creamery will be offering old their small batch ice cream and Juice Girl will also be on hand, squeezing out the yummiest healthy stuff in town. According to their FB page, Fat Cat will be offering Pumpkin Pie Push-up Pops, scoops of Strawberry Buttermilk and scoops of Laird's 100 Proof Apple Brandy Spiced Cider ice cream. Holy awesomeness, people!
  • After the craft market, Hello, Lucky is having an artists reception for Erica Bogdan and Sylvester Sanchez from 4-6pm.
Saturday, October 8, 6pm- 8:30 pm: Heights Beatniks presents Julie Zarate
  • Texas native Julie, who is currently one of the Resident Artists at LA's Gallery ChimMaya, is home and showing her stunning work at Heights Beatniks.
  • There will be refreshments and small bites, including sweetness from Greg or Mr Zrake's Cakes.
  • All that and the company of those lovely Beatniks ladies, Diana and Maria.
  • For more information on Julie, check out her blog: six06 

Sunday, October 9, 2 pm: Sangria Sunday at The Corkscrew
  • According to the folks at The Corkscrew, they have discovered the "most effective combination of potency and flavor." Head over on Sunday after 2 pm to see if they're right.
  • Gorgeous patio!
  • 1308 W 20th

Monday, October 10, 6:30pm- 8:30 pm: Public Meeting for Houston's first bike parking ordinance
  • The City of Houston Planning Department is hosting a community meeting where community members will have an opportunity to share ideas about the new bike parking requirements (or any other parts of the proposed Off-Street Parking changes) to staff members of the Planning Department
  • Please visit Bike Houston's page here to get more information about what is proposed and what the biking community believes will be of the most value
  • Heights Multiservice Center, 170 Heights Blvd. Click here for a map.
  • If you are unable to attend, you can also email comments to
Tuesday, October 11, 7pm- 8:30 pm: Healthy Kids, Healthy Family- The Science Behind Feeding Our Kids
  • Join registered dietitian Melissa Hawthorne, MS, RD, LD, as she presents Healthy Kids Healthy Family -- The science behind feeding our children. This hour long presentation will give information on current childhood obesity trends, ways to prevent your child from becoming an obese adult, the proper nutrition guidelines for children, how to handle picky eaters and much more!
  • Proctor Plaza Park pavillion, 803 W. Temple Street
  • Please RSVP to Lee Whitley as space may be limited

Thursday, October 20, 5:30 pm: BNI Heights Chapter Happy Hour
  • BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. Their Heights chapter, Heights of Professionalism, meets weekly at Down House for a structured, business meeting. However, Thursday, October 20th, the group is hosting a Happy Hour for guests to find out more about the group in a casual, fun environment.
  • With roughly 40 chapters in greater Houston, local business owners consider this a great way to drive their businesses, get referrals and talk with other independent business owners.
  • The Happy Hour will be at Down House, Yale @ 18th
Friday, October 28, 11:30 am: 3rd Annual HHWC Witches' Luncheon
  • Details in the flyer!