by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) – It has been nearly two years since Austin-based Whole Foods Market made known its intent to build a 365 grocery in the Garden Oaks/Independence Heights neighborhoods, but vertical construction is about to take off.
As was noticed by Swamplot readers several weeks back, site preparation began in March at the northeast corner of Yale Street and the North Loop 610 frontage road. The initial site work entailed removal of a garage/office building that was used by Neff Rental, a heavy construction equipment supplier.
Contractors may only bid at the invitation of the developer, Fidelis Realty Partners. However, Virtual Builders Exchange has learned that bids on this project, Yale Marketplace, are due tomorrow, May 4.
According to the construction documents, Fidelis directly controls a corner lot of just over 4 acres through a limited liability company, Yale 610 Associates LLC. Fidelis closed on the land transaction in January, according to the county appraisal district.
The Fidelis site will have two leased spaces—a 30,00-square-foot building for 365 by Whole Foods and an adjoining 12,000-square-foot facility for an emergency room clinic. The grocery project name is Garden Oaks 365.
In an effort to attract a larger customer base, Whole Foods rolled out the 365 by Whole Foods concept a few years back. The 365 is a smaller pantry-style store with fewer consumer choices and more competitive pricing. The first 365 stores opened outside of Texas and this will be the first location in Harris County.
The Parkside Capital venture in Yale Marketplace will have 19,200 square feet of retail and four tenants.
The entire development includes more than the Fidelis project. Houston-based Parkside Capital purchased the lot adjacent to the north boundary of the Fidelis site in June 2015, and the two firms are working together; 3004 Yale Street, which has been home to The Potter’s House Christian Church, will be the site of an additional 19,200-square-foot retail strip center.
Parkside Capital’s property description explains that, “through a joint venture, Parkside purchased a 36,000 SF industrial building on 76,839 SF of land … the property has a connection to the corner for future retail development.”
Including the Parkside Capital site, the total site encompasses about 5.8 acres. The site preparation plans also include demolition of the church building, which was actually originally an industrial structure that never looked much like a church.
Fidelis has its two locations under contract with Whole Foods and Houston Heights ER. Leases have been arranged on the third building with a dental practice and a cellular phone retailer; that leaves 13,200 square feet of available tenant space.
These will be concrete tilt-wall structures with step-up roof elevations of 23 feet in height at low parapet and 28 feet at high parapet, and a 35-foot tower. The main lot (not including Parkside) accommodates 242 vehicles. A patio style outdoor seating area will be located in front of the grocery, to the left of the entrance. The site has two points of access; 35-foot curb cuts will provide access from the 610 feeder and Yale Street.
Residents in the Garden Oaks and Greater Heights area have been clamoring for years for a major chain grocer to open an establishment. They were slow to respond, but last year VBX reported that San Antonio-based HEB Grocery Company firmed up its plans for a novel two-story supermarket at the southeast corner of Shepherd Drive and West 24th Street. That is one mile southwest of the 365 by Whole Foods site.
BDG Architecture+Planning (Boucher Design Group LLC of Bellaire) is the architect. Infrastructure Associates prepared the MEP documents. Matrix Structural Engineers prepared the structural schematics.
No estimate of project cost has been released. However, retail developments of this scale have been getting built for about $3.5 million.