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A view of the “Heights” Wal-Mart site

I was thinking last week that I didn’t have a good feel for the geography of the site for the proposed “Heights” Wal-Mart. So I figured the thing to do was to drive over there and take a few pictures. I did that on Friday morning, and put them into this Flickr set for your perusal. There are comments on each picture, and here are a few additional thoughts.

- The south side of this property is bounded by the train tracks that come in from 290 and continue on into downtown. Unless a new road is built from Bonner to Yale on the north side of these tracks, the site will have no access on the south.

- Bonner is the west edge. It’s not a street so much as it is two cul-de-sacs, one on each side of Koehler, with the southern cul-de-sac terminating at the tracks, and the northern one dead-ending before I-10. You could, as I noted before, extend Bonner across the tracks, to meet its corresponding cul-de-sac on the north side, and the I-10 service road extension may connect to it as well, though I have no idea if TxDOT plans to do that or not. Without at least one of those additions, you could have an entrance to the site on Bonner, but you’d only be able to get to it via Koehler.

- While the property extends to Koehler to the north, the northwest corner of the site, at Koehler and Bonner, is the home of Berger Iron Works, which is very much a going operation, and quite a cool one from the look of it. It fronts on Bonner, with a small office and attached employee parking lot across the street, but the shop, which fronts on Koehler, has street access. I don’t know how much traffic this generates.

- Koehler runs from Yale to Shepherd/Durham and points west from there. It is also the entry and exit point for San Jacinto Stone, which was already receiving customers and sending out trucks at 7:30 AM, which is about the time I took these pictures. West of Bonner, it’s residential, with cars parked on both sides of the street. That will be an issue if Koehler becomes an entry point for this Wal-Mart, since with cars parked on even one side, Koehler is too narrow for bidirectional traffic. It also has “traffic-calming devices” on it, also known as speed bumps, which suggests to me that the residents in this area were complaining about cut-through traffic long ago. Koehler also has no sidewalks and open drainage ditches, so no one will be walking to Wal-Mart as it is currently configured.

- There’s another little cul-de-sac north of Koehler between Yale and Bonner, called Bass Court, which like Bonner dead-ends before I-10. According to this Chron story, it will be widened and will connect to the service road extension. As with Bonner, there are people living there. I have no idea what they think about having a Wal-Mart so close by.

- There are a couple of streets that extend west from Bonner between Koehler and the tracks: Schuler, which is closest to the tracks and which ends at Patterson; and Eli, which extends to Durham/Shepherd and thus could also serve as access to the Wal-Mart site. I did not explore either of these streets. There’s a large abandoned commercial site at Schuler and Bonner that is currently for sale. Eli appears to be residential.

- I’ve said that Bonner is a cul-de-sac on the north side of the train tracks as well, but that’s not really true. It meets up with Allen Street, which then proceeds west right next to the tracks. Connecting the two sides of Bonner would make Allen Street another access road for the site. As it happens, the morning I was taking these pictures, I met a young man on the north side of Bonner who was walking his dogs. He lives in the apartments that front on Center and back up to the train tracks. I asked him if he’d heard about the Wal-Mart, and he said he’d heard rumors about a grocery store being built there. I told him Wal-Mart had bought the property, and he immediately expressed concern about the traffic it would bring. Make of that what you will.

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8 Comments

  1. West End neighbor says:

    As part of the very recently completed Quiet Zone in the area, Bonner was closed in each direction at the rail road crossing. There was much discussion at the time about ways to keep that crossing open, but the Quiet Zone could not be completed without the crossing being closed. As excited as neighbors are about having fewer train horns blowing all night long, and as unhappy as neighbors are about the proposed development, I doubt opening Bonner back up and losing the Quiet Zone will be a very popular idea. This is just one of the many reasons residents are unhappy with the proposed development.

  2. West End Neighbor2 says:

    Thanks for this comprehensive article. As a resident of the West End and Koehler Street, I clearly understand how this will impact our small neighborhood and traffic patterns. For those not actually living in this pocket neighborhood, this gives a great overall idea of how odd it is going to be to have a 155K sf Wal-Mart plopped in the middle of this area. The worst part is that with Koehler as the main cut through for a 24 hour supercenter, that street will bear a huge influx of non-local travellers. As it is now, it can barely even support the local traffic since it is essentially reduced to one-way, one car flow because of the street parking. This to me signals that the city is going to be come knocking on my door, claiming eminent domain on what little yard and driveway I have left, in order to widen the street appropriately to support this store. Bleh. Take it somewhere else Wal-Mart.

  3. RedScare says:

    OR, the City could decide to do what they are doing in the Heights and put drainage pipes in the ditches and curb and gutter your street without taking an inch of your property. The resident on Harvard are quite pleased with their new curb and guttered street and resulting on-street parking.

    Not all progress is bad.

  4. Nick Urbano says:

    Totally agree. Not all progress is bad. Granted, its clear to me they have not done a comprehensive study of the West End. the biggest problem is going to be that Yale will be the only way to get through, but people will end up using Patterson to Koehler, and Bass st off the new feeder road.

    Right now, there is parking on both sides of the street, and the streets are falling apart. There is no plan to rehab Koehler, which is the only thoroughfare since the quiet zone.

  5. RedScare says:

    I followed some of the Quiet Zone arguments, and the closing off of some streets was applauded by many West End neighbors. Now, the argument is being propounded that those very same closed streets will cause traffic congestion on others. West End residents created this problem. I fail to see why they now think they can use it to thwart construction that they do not want. Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences, but it is your own fault.

    By the way, I am not the least bit convinced that traffic (other than your neighbors) will come down Patterson to get to Walmart. Traffic will come down Yale, with some coming south from the feeder to Bonner when Yale backs up. Others will come up Yale from Washington. While you may imagine all manner of nightmare scenarios by looking at a map, drivers, like water, seek the route of least resistance. Patterson to Koehler ain’t it.

  6. While you may imagine all manner of nightmare scenarios by looking at a map, drivers, like water, seek the route of least resistance. Patterson to Koehler ain’t it.

    Perhaps, but Koehler goes all the way through to Durham/Shepherd. As I noted, it has speed bumps on it, which suggests to me it was already being used as a cut through from Yale – after you pass Center Street northbound, your next non-highway route from Yale to Shepherd is 10th Street. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an increase in traffic on Koehler.

  7. Terry says:

    Also, Patterson St. has zero stoplights all the way to I-10. Using your argument of least resistence, I would rather access WM via Patterson to Koehler than using Yale st.

  8. [...] forth. Makes you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for such a happy ending for the “Heights” Wal-Mart. Stranger things have happened, right? So far, though, it’s not looking too good for [...]

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