H-E-B Construction in Houston Area Still Strong While El Pasoans Hang on to a Dream
Feature Photo (above): The HEB supermarket in Del Rio, Texas. One El Paso resident who claimed to have driven to the Del Rio HEB to get fajitas because their cut of choice wasn’t available in local markets. El Pasoans have been asking for an HEB for years. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — H-E-B is in the process of beginning or completing eight new grocery stores, with the majority (six locations) going up in the Greater Houston area.
According to state architectural project records, Austin is getting one new store while two others undergo major remodel and expansion work. El Paso, on the other hand, is getting squat.
The eighth new location is getting built in Hudson Oaks, a rural community west of Fort Worth in Parker County. In total, the 10 supermarket projects have an estimated construction cost of about $123 million.
Greater Houston is getting most of the San Antonio-based grocer’s attention as the company continues to consolidate its grip on the state’s largest market.
H-E-B has opted not to use Texas-based architects. The eight new locations are being designed by firms based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rogers, Arkansas. Both companies are specialists in the design of retail facilities.
Houston: H-E-B MacGregor @ 6055 South Freeway | Estimated start: Dec. 1, 2018 | Finish: June 1, 2019
Pasadena: Joe V’s #9 @ 4203 Red Bluff Road | Completed: December 2018
Joe V’s Smart Shop is a relatively new chain started by H-E-B in 2010 that only exists for now in the Houston area. It is a discount grocery concept store with an average footprint of 61,000 square feet.
Construction workers doing landscaping and pavement worker at the Joe V’s Smart Shop on West Bellfort Avenue in Houston. Image: Google Streets, Dec. 2016.
H-E-B commissions dozens of small remodel projects year-round, but San Antonio-based Absolute Design Partners has been tasked with two major remodel/expansion projects in Austin. Absolute Design does a lot of work for H-E-B.
Austin H-E-B @ 2508 E. Riverside Drive: a $4 million project that began this month and is scheduled to finish by May.
Austin H-E-B @ 2701 E. 7th St.: a $7.5 million project that began this month and is scheduled to finish by June.
The Austin HEB at 2701 E. 7th St. is getting a $7.5 million major remodel. Image: Google Streets.
One place H-E-B is not building is El Paso, a city with no H-E-B stores of any kind. No H-E-B plus!, no Central Market, nada. But the far West Texas metropolis has a substantial community of H-E-B expatriates that have been pining for a store for years.
In 2013, some enterprising soul created a Bring HEB to El Paso Facebook page and it’s been active ever since. Here is a sample of comments from their Facebook page:
Mallik Sutton: “El Paso needs to step up. We need Aldis, HEB, Trader Joe’s. Now who’s with me?”
Kendra Moore: “Yes!! I was so bummed when I moved here last year and there was no HEB … I didn’t know how to react. LOL.”
Rosemarie Barnes: “Hopefully we will have HEB in El Paso soon. Having them open one on the NE part of town would be
Sharon Chistaine: “I moved back to Alamogordo from Houston and the thing I miss most is H-E-B and their offspring, Central Market. Yes, I absolutely WOULD drive from Alamogordo to El Paso to shop at HEB.”
Beth Gordiner: “El Paso needs HEB – on the east side please – I won’t even go into a Wal-Mart let alone give the Walton brats any of my hard earned money, and would love to say the same about Albertson’s.”
In November 2015, H-E-B announced the launch of its online store. The press release noted that cities without an H-E-B store, “like El Paso, Amarillo and Texarkana,” can simply visit HEB.com.
That was hardly the answer El Pasoans had in mind. There was some excitement last week, however, when within 48 hours El Pasoans were told that two El Paso County school districts were finalists in the 2019 HEB Excellence in Education Awards, a prestigious award that comes with a very generous monetary prize.
Just as this news was making the rounds–coincidence ?–a rumor on Reddit took flight about a “credible source” claiming H-E-B had purchased three properties in El Paso and had plans to expand into the city.
An El Paso pop radio station tried to verify the rumor with a call to H-E-B, but any hope that the rumor was true was abruptly deflated.
Company spokesperson Julie Bedingfield told KISS.FM 93.1 that “H-E-B has no current plans for a store in El Paso.”
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.