Cypress business owners furious after new medians drive away customers

CYPRESS, Texas (KTRK) -- When Tom Henderson heard that Grant Road was going to be expanded from two lanes to four, he saw an opportunity.

"More traffic means more customers for my shopping center, and more money for my tenants," he said.

However, the finished project drew a different response. "It's a complete disaster," he said.

The Harris County roadway includes concrete medians, with grass already growing. However, the road does not include a median turning lane that would allow westbound traffic to enter the Eldridge/Grant Rd Plaza Shopping Center, which Henderson owns.

Entry and exit ways are big considerations in commercial real estate. Since construction ended, realtor Andy Farster said he's been unable to lease a 7,000 sq. ft. space in the shopping center.

"Last week a high-end steakhouse wanted to lease a space in the shopping center, but when they saw the traffic island which killed the ingress and egress, it was a no-go. No deal," Farster said.

Henderson said the shopping center is now 50 percent vacant. "Before this, it was 100 percent," he said.

He met with traffic engineers from the Harris County Engineering Department Wednesday.

A statement from the county said the new raised medians have a limited number of openings to enhance safety, especially with left hand turns. The statement said Henderson was also given other options, and offered the opportunity to come up with his own proposal for the engineering team to consider.

One of the options mentioned was for him to purchase land adjacent to the traffic light, and create a driveway onto the parking lot. Henderson said he believes the cost to him would be more than half a million dollars.

Eastbound traffic can turn into the parking lot, but the few business owners who remain say the sales have declined by nearly half. "I had a large group of loyal customers," said Shiva Kabotra. "Since all this, they've just faded away."

Henderson said he was told that eventually drivers will learn new habits. He questions whether he or his few remaining tenants can wait that long.
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