by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris Co.) – HEB Grocery Company will build a two-story supermarket with structured parking below the grocery.
Houston Planning Commission will hear an application on Thursday for a 10-foot building line along North Shepherd Drive in the Greater Heights/Shady Acres neighborhood area. The other boundary streets are West 24th Street, Lawrence Street and West 23rd Street. The store is to be known as HEB The Heights.
Plats for this area require 25-foot building lines along a major thoroughfare.
In their analysis, the Planning and Development Department said, “The Heights and surrounding area, while not a food desert, is widely recognized as being underserved by grocery stores. This is primarily due to the lack of available land within the area necessary to accommodate a full-service supermarket, which is compounded by the existing block sizes within the Heights established by the original plat in 1891.
“A full service grocery store typically needs at least eight to twelve acres to construct a store. The subject property consists of only 4.13 acres, thus requiring the need for structured parking in order to meet peak parking demand, which has proven to be greater for HEB stores inside Loop 610 than in suburban locations.”
Given the urban nature of the location and the existing Metro bus route along North Shepherd, it is anticipated that many patrons will walk, bike or take the bus, staff said. The proposed structure will include two levels that are set back 10 feet from North Shepherd, West 24th and West 23rd.
The ground level will include automobile and bicycle parking, with pedestrian customer access to the upper level. The supermarket and additional parking will be located on the upper level with the store comprising of approximately one-half of the upper level.
A similar store is currently being developed within the City of Bellaire due to space constraints.
Along North Shepherd Drive, the property line is located 15 feet from back of street curb, the staff report said. As shown on the enclosed site plan and perspective drawings, a reduced building setback of 10 feet will allow the required parking to be provided within the structure and provide an attractive 25-foot wide landscape and pedestrian environment from the street curb to the structure.
“If a standard 25-foot building setback were to be imposed, the surface parking would need to extend to the right-of-way line in order to provide required spaces, as shown on the enclosed drawing.
“If built, this configuration would result in a less attractive appearance and less desirable pedestrian environment along North Shepherd, which would be contrary to sound public policy for Houston’s urban core, the staff report concluded.”
RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture is acting as representative for the variance request. HEB Design+Construction produced architectural renderings.