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Chron overview of Heights dry referendum

For an issue that directly affects a few thousand people, this sure had gotten a lot of attention.

[Bill] Baldwin is part of the “Keep the Heights Dry” movement, a group of individuals urging residents who live in the dry part of the Heights to vote against the city of Houston proposition that would allow the legal sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption.

If the proposition passes on Nov. 8, retailers like convenience and grocery stores would be able to sell beer and wine in a part of the Heights that has been dry since 1904. The change would not affect restaurants, which are able to sell alcohol by forming private clubs that their customers can join by providing their driver’s licenses.

Baldwin’s group is going up against the Houston Heights Beverage Coalition, a political action committee formed earlier this year to push the reversal of the dry law.

Largely at stake is the proposed development of a new H-E-B on a former Fiesta site at 2300 N. Shepherd.

H-E-B wants to buy the property but said it needs to be able to sell wine and beer in order for the store to be economically feasible.

“From a business proposition, if I spend $25 or $30 million building a store I also need to make sure it can earn a fair return,” said Scott McClelland, Houston division president for H-E-B.

The San Antonio-based grocer has put more than $60,000 into the coalition, according to finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Baldwin, who lives in the Heights but outside the dry area, said the election is not about being against H-E-B but preserving the character of the neighborhood.

His group has been urging residents of the dry area to consider the issue apart from H-E-B.

He said more service stations and convenience stores could diminish property values of the homes around them.

“This election is not about H-E-B, it’s about changing the fabric about my community,” Baldwin said.

Honestly, there’s nothing here that you couldn’t learn from reading the dueling op-eds or listening to the interviews that I did with Baldwin and Reilley. The story did remind me that there used to a a tiny HEB – it was called an “HEB Pantry store” back in the day – in the Heights that no one went to because it didn’t have much in it. This whole debate is a little nuts because people in the greater Heights area have been begging to get a real HEB like the one in Montrose in the neighborhood, and if it weren’t for this oddball quirk of history, the announcement that there would be an HEB built on the site of the old Fiesta would be greeted with handsprings and huzzahs. But because we’re held hostage to the way some people viewed the demon rum a century ago, we’re stuck with this silly debate. Everyone in America is ready for the Presidential race to be over, I’m ready for this referendum to be settled.

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5 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    Off topic, but related: Does anyone remember the name of the neighborhood grocery store that preceded the H-E-B Pantry at 301 W 11th St? The H-E-B took over the existing old building when the neighborhood market went out of business. Charles mentioning it triggered a memory of the older store, but without the name. Thank you, historians, if you can help me out.

  2. mollusk says:

    Moore’s, IIRC. It had the weirdest layout – the doors faced 11th, and there was a wall that went almost all the way across from one side to the other about halfway back (it got taken out in the Pantry conversion).

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    The debate isn’t silly, and it’s great that some people are actually aware of and concerned about the proposition whether for or against I am glad to see some opinions. I think that Rice Village is a big argument for the against. Look what happened there. Only a matter of time before the Heights has the Gap, Old Navy, Payless Shoes, Famous Footwear, Crate & Barrel, an Apple store and everything else that is in every other neighborhood, strip center and mall.

  4. voter_worker says:

    Thanks, mollusk. One of my aunts, who lived in Norhill, used to shop there.

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Texas Petition Strategies is the company that they hired which is behind Heights Beverage PAC. TPS has five pages of results from past elections. So much for a grassroots effort here.