UPDATED Jan. 15, 2016
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar Co.) – Long known for a propensity to go big, HEB Grocery Company LP may be better known in 2016 as the custom grocer that is as interested in being agile.
On Dec. 2, H-E-B opened the much awaited Flores St. Market, a downtown grocery that came to be only after some arm-twisting from City Council. Long reluctant to heed calls for a downtown grocery, the company finally capitulated in exchange for a street closing it wanted in order to remodel a portion of its corporate campus. The 12,000-square-foot store became the city’s first downtown market in decades and the smallest H-E-B store in Bexar County.
Flores St. Market will not be the smallest H-E-B grocery in town for long, however.
The San Antonio-based grocer plans to open a 7,416-square-foot convenience store and fuel station near Bandera Road and North Loop 1604 West in the spring or early summer (Project ID 2016-0102). The site address, 11652 Bandera Road, is within the H-E-B Crossing shopping center.
The store concept imitates the pattern of Valero, Exxon and other gasoline retailers that pair up with fast food franchisees. In this case, the “H-E-B Fuel” store will share space with a Wendy’s franchise. The total floor plan is 10,296 square feet, of which 2,880 square feet will be dedicated to the Wendy’s.
The convenience store is identified on H-E-B documents as “SA 32 C-Store,” which technically makes it an extension of a nearby H-E-B Plus! supermarket. However, that supermarket is a block away and separated by a shopping center that is anchored by an Academy Sports+Outdoors and a Conn’s HomePlus.
It is common for H-E-B stores to have a fuel station with a small box kiosk occupied by an attendant who handles gas for cash transactions and snack sales. This appears, however, to be the company’s first full-sized, stand-alone restaurant-convenience store in Bexar County. By the first week of January, demolition work was being done on the surface parking in preparation for a building foundation and new parking lot.
The H-E-B public affairs office declined by email on Jan. 7 to comment, stating they would “pass on participating.” A company spokesperson subsequently disputed many of the elements in this article, (without offering alternative facts), including the square footage dimensions, the estimated construction period and whether there was even going to be a construction project. VBX maintains full confidence in its sources.
VBX had asked on Jan. 7 whether this is a one-time experiment or the first of many. After publication, H-E-B pointed out that the Bandera Road project was not the first stand alone convenience store, but did not elaborate further.
Through other sources, VBX has since learned H-E-B has constructed at least one other restaurant-convenience store outside of Bexar County; the company collaborated with Whataburger on a location in Lytle. Also, the architect on the Bandera Road project, Absolute Design Partners, is on record with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation with having prepared documents for an H-E-B convenience store in Floresville in 2014 at an estimated cost of $1.4 million.
Several projects numbers referencing the 11652 Bandera Road address have been listed with Licensing and Registration. These include a “new HEB C-store” with an estimated cost of $2.7 million, and a Wendy’s to “be added into HEB SA 32 C-store tenant space” at an estimated cost of $360,000, both with estimated completion dates of March 1.
H-E-B’s willingness to innovate with different types of store designs has precedent in the company’s history. Consider the 2015 opening of the two-story H-E-B supermarket at Nogalitos Street and South Park Boulevard. Unable to acquire adjacent land for an expansion, the company rebuilt the neighborhood grocery by using the ground level for parking and sending customers up escalators and elevators; the store mimicked designs used in high-density urban centers like the Publix in downtown Fort Lauderdale and the Whole Foods Market in downtown Miami.
The project architect for the Wendy’s/H-E-B Fuel C-store was identified as Absolute Design Partners. Structural designs are by Beicker Martinez Engineering, and the MEP plans are by Energy Squared LLC.
HEB Design+Construction rendering of Wendy’s/HEB Fuel Convenience Store