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The Heights Wal-Mart is now open

On the plus side, the world did not come to an end. On the minus side, it’s still a lousy location for a Wal-Mart and a giant missed opportunity for better, more urban-oriented development.

For nearly 2½ years, Heights-area residents fought against one of the largest corporations in the world, employing yard signs, meeting with City Council members, even filing a lawsuit. It was an intense emotional effort to stop Walmart from opening a store just outside the Heights, its first inside Loop 610.

In the end, Walmart won. Its 153,000-square-foot Supercenter opened Friday at Yale and Koehler streets.

Those living nearby have mixed feelings about the store, ranging from anger to apathy, with some just waiting to see if any of the naysayers’ concerns come to fruition.

But for some opponents, the fight is far from lost. They say their cause always extended beyond just stopping the development of the Walmart.

“It was if you’re going to develop the neighborhood, do it right,” said Rob Task, president of Responsible Urban Development for Houston, a nonprofit born from the controversy over the Supercenter.

This earlier Chron story and The Leader have more on what’s on the inside of this store, and on the Studemont Kroger a mile or so due east that opened the same day. I can’t say I noticed a difference in traffic on Studemont on Friday, but it’s been awful around there for some time now, so it’s hard to say how much worse it could get. We’ll never know what could have been here, we can just hope that what we got isn’t as bad as we’ve feared it will be.

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3 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    Why is it a lousy place for a WalMart? Do you think WalMart chose poorly, or do you have a dislike of WalMart that wants them located where they never cross your vision? How would you achieve your goal of having “urban oriented development” built, given Houston doesn’t have zoning, and the City can’t tell developers what to build.

    In reality, RUDH speaks for almost no one, other than the unrealistic hipsters that think they know better than the rest of us when it comes to development.

  2. Anne says:

    In reality, RUDH speaks for me and everyone I know. Many of us have very good knowledge of urban planning/development and clearly understand the benefits of urban, not suburban, land use. Mixed-use developments generate far greater tax revenue. Their smaller street grids connect to the existing framework, which encourages pedestrian movement, reduces reliance on vehicles, builds a healthier community and encourages at-scale entrepreneurial business development. At a bare minimum, developers should not be receiving public funds to build lowest-and-worst-use suburban developments in our urban core. It’s bad fiscal policy and it’s bad urban planning. Chances are, Ross, that all the people you’re mislabeling as “hipsters” very likely work in the design/development field and live in this neighborhood. They actually do know better.

  3. Principled says:

    The City could have and should have said no to the 380 agreement that gave tax breaks to the Heights Walmart developer Ainbinder. They would have built anyway without City money, and given the opposition in the area the city had no place giving tax breaks to pad the developer’s profit margins.

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