Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Houston Press Weighs In ... Yee-Haw ...

The Houston Press Weighed in on the discussion today ... 

The Article starts off well enough: 

"The Heights may soon be dealing with an unwanted resident, and they're going to have to put up a strong fight to keep them out. The possibility that Houston's seventh Super Walmart could land in the historic area has residents squirming, and a strong reaction for and against its development is spreading throughout the community.

The Facebook group, 
"Stop the Heights Wal-mart!" was formed after reports surfaced that Walmart is looking at a parcel of land south of I-10 near the intersection of Yale Street and Center Street, with plans for no less than the establishment of its next small country, it would seem.
The group was created to inform, gauge interest and foster discussion between independent individuals in the community, a group spokesperson said, with its sole objective to produce the result of not having the Walmart developed as proposed in the leaked site plan."

And, it degrades from there ... seems like this is the type of the thing The Press writers live for ... a chance to hit back at 'the man', to knock on 'the establishment', and to hit out at the soft underbelly of Houston's society that isn't quite River Oaks, but is far from the projects.  And now, from deep within Houston somewhere, the Press folks are smiling at the thought of the Heights/Washington Avenue scene being effected by a Wal Mart in the middle of the city.  
Here's my thoughts (Posted as a comment): 
Listen folks ...
-The Wal-Mart is being built in the West End section of Houston.
-A 155K sq ft Wal Mart is big enough to effect several surrounding neighborhoods, including the heights
-This has little to do with whatever stereotypes (McMansions, Douche Alley) that Press typically likes to interview for competing opinions, and moreso with percieved effect on the surrounding neighborhoods
-The Perception is that a Wal Mart would mitigate gains in property value, regardless of whether you think its racist, classist, whatever. Perception is reality folks, and there are people that can talk until they are blue in the face, but they won't convince me that my home investment over several years is about to take a huge hit. THAT is business intruding on people's lives far more than I want to accept
-Additionally, the roads all across this neighborhood (West End), can't sustain any kind of traffic increase without massive improvements.
-Further to this, the drainage system immediately surrounding the tract of land where Wal-Mart is proposing a site is serviced solely by drainage ditches roughly 2.5-3ft deep.
-It is the responsibility of each property owner to keep the drainage ditches clear so that they function properly during heavy rains
-The property owner of this site has not done so, nor do many of the property owners in the West End ... this causes massive street flooding problems across the neighborhood of the West End. Simply put, the infrastructure is barely able to sustain the influx of new construction now, much less a massive concrete parking lot on the end of the neighborhood. 

And, lets not forget crime ... our streets are rampant with it ... it is poverty stricken crack dealers looking to sling $5.00 rocks, its disgusting prostitutes, its folks wandering the streets knocking in car windowns, stealing whatever is not bolted down on cars.  And its stupid kids in the neighborhood with no regard for growing or owning anything, that rent property to be close to watering holes, tearing through the streets drunk and with reckless abandon.  There is no respect, and I won't be surprised when someone is run down late night in an alcohol fueled accident.  Its not a matter of if folks ... its when. 

A Wal Mart doesn't fix this ... ownership does ... pride of growing, and claiming one's stake.  Can retail be good for developing the West End?  Yes ... absolutely.  Does Wal Mart draw folks to build $300K + Houses?  No ... no it does not.  Thus, will the neighborhood improve?  I can't say it will ... the folks that own the 100K homes now don't care ... i see it daily.  If they do, it is welcome, but on the whole, there is no improvement.  The neighborhood needs to change, and development will aid that with a positive perception.  If nothing else, this should tell everyone, that Wal Mart does not bring that positive perception, at all ... 


  1. I wonder how many of those crack addicts and stupid kids could use jobs.

  2. Edited to remove a type. After all, I am a teacher!


    "A Wal Mart doesn't fix this ... ownership does ... pride of growing, and claiming one's stake. Can retail be good for developing the West End? Yes ... absolutely. Does Wal Mart draw folks to build $300K + Houses? No ... no it does not. Thus, will the neighborhood improve? I can't say it will ... the folks that own the 100K homes now don't care ... i see it daily."

    I must say, that is one of the most ill-informed, or at best ignorant, things I have read in ages.

    I am a late 20's teacher who grew up in the Heights, went to local public schools like Hamilton and Waltrip, and who currently lives in Norhill Heights with my husband, who is in the service industry. He is currently attending HCC to obtain his electrician's license. We do not own our home because there is no way we are currently able to, in good financial conscience, purchase one of these $300K+ homes you speak of as so amazing and so much better taken care of than those owned by the lazy, uncaring $100K home-owning "type". We're saving and planning to buy a home one day, but are certainly not going to get ourselves into a mortgage that we aren't ready for.

    I grew up in, and love, the Heights and am willing to fight to preserve it. These are some of the things I love about the Heights: our artists and musicians (Quite a few renters in that group. Maybe they can't afford to buy, either!), our sense of community and history, our architecture, our green space and "play" space, and of course, our people.

    Here are two things I don't love about the Heights: 1) A Walmart. You're right, I'm not stoked about the idea of Walmart setting up shop in our collective backyards. I try my best to shop at places I would feel proud to patronize, and even though I'm an "uncaring" middle class renter, I make sacrifices in other areas so that I can make that choice. 2) Entitled, bourgeois, classist folks who make statements like the ones you're making in your blog. The Heights needs that as much as it needs a Walmart.

  3. "Typo". It's late, and I'm tired. :)

  4. Thanks for the thoughts.

    I live in the West End, a block from where this Wal Mart is to be built. The majority of '100K' homes I'm referring to our mid century pier and beam homes that are falling apart. Drive up and down any of the streets in the West End, and you'll see clearly what I'm speaking about. most of them are rented, some of them split into multifamily. There are many, many street level drug dealers that live in these homes, and these are the folks Im' talking about.

    I rented for many years, also with the intent of owning, and working for the goal. I do not hold myself above others, but I do recognize that the majority of people that rent homes in the West End, from college age kids in the nicer townhomes to the dealers in the 100K rentals, don't treat where they live as well as my neighbors that are invested in the neighborhood as I am. I do not have the best looking house on my block, but I care about it, and my neighborhood.

    No worries on the typos. Thanks for the response.