Residents want to preserve vacant lot

March 5, 2010 5:25:03 PM PST
There's concern from people in the Montrose area over what will happen to a large plot of land full of oak trees. Developers are considering putting in a grocery store at the location that was once the home to a set of rundown apartments. But people who live near the land off of Dunlavy and West Alabama say a store will only mean problems. The vacant seven acre lot in the Montrose area is the object of two very different visions. The H-E-B Corporation sees a hustling and bustling supermarket. Residents who live in the area see more of a preservation project.

"It's also a great draw for tourism if you had a great space for an art festival," said Maria-Elisa Heg with the Montrose Land Defense Coalition.

Problem is H-E-B is already in the early stages of a contract with the land owner. That has Montrose residents mobilizing. A coalition has been formed and petition circulating. Their fear this green space will be erased.

"I can see this whole thing being concrete, the magnolias would go and all these wonderful oaks," said Montrose resident Peter Ewing.

"They will get bulldozed if H-E-B comes in here," Heg predicted. "They will not preserve the trees at all."

As well, they say, the small two lane streets on Dunlavy and West Alabama will not be able to handle the traffic a supermarket generates. Residents also say another grocery store is simply not needed.

"We've got Fiesta right here and we've got Kroger right up here and we got a Whole Foods coming in. We've got a Whole Foods over here," Ewing said. "We got a brand new H-E-B right on Buffalo Speedway. Enough is enough."

But H-E-B says their own survey has identified a customer base in the area they can serve. And if they acquire the land, the nonprofit group Tree for Houston will be consulted in design plans. However, residents they are the ones keeping their community in mind.

Heg said, "I think that wanting to preserve land is just as a legitimate an endeavor as wanting to put a business there. I think that entrepreneurship doesn't have to be based solely on profit motives."

Heg is saying they have started discussions with the City of Houston Parks Board and private investors to see about finding a way to procure the land for a private park that could function similar to Discovery Green Park.


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