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Wal-Mart to invade the Heights


Walmart at Yale & I-10: For or Against  

160 members have voted

  1. 1. Q1: Regarding the proposed WalMart at Yale and I-10:

    • I live within a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am FOR this Walmart
      41
    • I live within a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am AGAINST this Walmart
      54
    • I live outside a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am FOR this Walmart
      30
    • I live outside a 3 mile radius (as the crow flies) and am AGAINST this Walmart
      26
    • Undecided
      9
  2. 2. Q2: If/when this proposed WalMart is built at Yale & I-10

    • I am FOR this WalMart and will shop at this WalMart
      45
    • I am FOR this WalMart but will not shop at this WalMart
      23
    • I am AGAINST this WalMart but will shop at this WalMart
      7
    • I am AGAINST this WalMart and will not shop at this WalMart
      72
    • Undecided
      13
  3. 3. Q3: WalMart in general

    • I am Pro-Walmart
      16
    • I am Anti-Walmart
      63
    • I don't care either way
      72
    • Undecided
      9

This poll is closed to new votes


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Email the Mayor.  Put Public Information Request in the subject and a short description and ask for what you want.  You may have to go and pick up documents and pay for the copies.  If it's just a few pages they might just email it to you. 

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Is that the rubicon, whether or not you walk your own children and pets? Is that what divides snobbery from community activism? I just don't get it, with all that's wrong in the world, with all the pl

I'd love nothing more than to see the concerned heights neighbors do a real protest of the proposed Yale Wal Mart. Think of it as a meaningful vacation from strenuous days of blogging, girls lunches

I, too, feel compelled to go public with this message. Since you don't live in the Heights, why don't you take your crunchy-tastic, holier-than-thou, self-righteous and judgemental attitude, drag Nic

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Email the Mayor.  Put Public Information Request in the subject and a short description and ask for what you want.  You may have to go and pick up documents and pay for the copies.  If it's just a few pages they might just email it to you. 

 

How do you know if you haven't done this? Did you ask the Mayor and what did you get back?

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I've emailed the Mayor a lot.  For the expenditures, I'm pretty sure it was emailed to me.  It's just one page.  The City hasn't verified/approved it all yet. 

 

Edited to put in the word "hasn't".

Edited by Leonard
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I cannot claim to be comfortable that this is in fact true.

 

If they did not spend/incur all 6 mil, I will leave this board forever.  They did not do all they originally promised to do because it cost too much.

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Email the Mayor.  Put Public Information Request in the subject and a short description and ask for what you want.  You may have to go and pick up documents and pay for the copies.  If it's just a few pages they might just email it to you. 

 

No need to do all that. I am happy with what they did.

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I think the improvemnets are great, especially since the developers would not have had to do them. The City got lots of great stuff without putting out any cash upfront.

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I don't get why everyone is so entranced with the not putting any cash up front thing.  You can say that about a lot of loans. You can go out to dinner tonight on a credit card - no cash up front!  No cash up front in and of itself doesn't make it a good deal. 

 

The City borrowed money from Ainbinder to pay for stuff that Ainbinder or Walmart would have been required to pay for.  The City is paying interest - the rate will be somewhere between 4.25% and 10% depending on when they pay it off. 

 

 

 

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We've been through this. Most of the improvements were to infrastructure that is the city's responsibility. Why do you keep attempting to mislead? It only further ruins your already low credibility. Sure, Ainbinder sought some benefits for the loan he was giving, but it was pennies compared to the city infrastructure.

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We've been through this. Most of the improvements were to infrastructure that is the city's responsibility. Why do you keep attempting to mislead? It only further ruins your already low credibility. Sure, Ainbinder sought some benefits for the loan he was giving, but it was pennies compared to the city infrastructure.

 

Go to the City and tell them that you want to develop a parcel of land and will need to widen the road, add a turn lane and put in turn signals.  The City will tell you that you have a choice:  wait 10 years until the request goes through the CIP process or pay for it yourself.  The "city's responsibility" is to put everyone who needs infrastructure work in a very, very long line.  At the very least, the 380 makes Ainbinder a supertaxpayer who gets to direct his tax funds to the projects he wants done.  I would love to have that power and get my street curbed and guttered so the emergency vehicles can actually get down the street and do not have to stop and honk their horn until someone comes out and moves their car.  At the very worst, the 380 is a gift to the developer who would have had to pay for the infrastructure out of pocket, like HEB did with the road work on Dunlavy for their new store in Montrose.  If you cannot understand that then you are a blah blah blah, credibility is blah blah blah--personal attacks are so lame. 

Edited by s3mh
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Go to the City and tell them that you want to develop a parcel of land and will need to widen the road, add a turn lane and put in turn signals.  The City will tell you that you have a choice:  wait 10 years until the request goes through the CIP process or pay for it yourself.  The "city's responsibility" is to put everyone who needs infrastructure work in a very, very long line.  At the very least, the 380 makes Ainbinder a supertaxpayer who gets to direct his tax funds to the projects he wants done.  I would love to have that power and get my street curbed and guttered so the emergency vehicles can actually get down the street and do not have to stop and honk their horn until someone comes out and moves their car.  At the very worst, the 380 is a gift to the developer who would have had to pay for the infrastructure out of pocket, like HEB did with the road work on Dunlavy for their new store in Montrose.  If you cannot understand that then you are a blah blah blah, credibility is blah blah blah--personal attacks are so lame. 

 

So the city gets someone else to front the money to get work done now instead of waiting 10 years... got it!

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So the city gets someone else to front the money to get work done now instead of waiting 10 years... got it!

 

Or the City gets fleeced for 6 mil when it could have had the developer pay for the work out of its own pocket.

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As he should, same as if I loaned you money for an obligation, but you'd have to pay back in cash.  I imagine Airbanger gets paid back in reduced obligations (such as tax) since that's all the City borrowed from him, obligations.

Edited by fwki
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And will get every penny back with interest. Kind of odd how you left that little detail out.

 

I was responding to the claim that the developer didn't have to front the money out of its own pocket. That claim was false on its face.

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http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/22451826/2013/05/29/heights-residents-demand-answers-from-city-leaders

 

Shaking the nest will hopefully yield 2 things:

 

1. full disclosure on how much was spent, and where it went.

 

2. full disclosure means that all of it will be out there, and people who are making baseless accusations will either be able to back up their statements, or won't. 

 

The comments from RUDH person are funny. I agree that their organization was devastated, that's what happens when you have an organization that is devoted to one specific task and fails, but the Heights? Far from devastated. 

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I like how in the comments, once again, we get to hear about 50+ year old live oaks that I can remember being planted less than 20 years ago.

 

Remember, facts are not important when fighting the City over Walmart.

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I also like the drainage issue brought up... isn't this less hardscape than was there previously?  I also like how there problem is with the city, but they are still mad at walmart and not the city. 

 

Edited by SilverJK
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If you're talking about the video before you click it, then the picture is a picture of where the trees and sidewalk used to be.  You can't see them any more because they are gone.  They were demolished to widen the road for the Ainbinder development.  It's relevant. 

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I also like the drainage issue brought up... isn't this less hardscape than was there previously?  I also like how there problem is with the city, but they are still mad at walmart and not the city. 

 

If you are like the City and consider a dirt pipe yard to have the same permeability as a concrete parking lot, then yes, it is less hardscape.  If you are an objective hydrologist, then there has been a big increase in hardscape because dirt is far more permeable than concrete.

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The picture is also of a stretch of frontage that doesn't even front this development, but is of the San Jacinto Stone site which has just been cleared.

 

So, if the City requires a developer to expand a road to put in a left turn lane, the developer can demo and not replace all the sidewalks in the area as long as they are not fronting his property? 

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The idea that Yale was a pedestrian paradise that has been ruined is bunk.  For one, I think there is a sidewalk across the street now that didn't exist before so pedestrians can technically just walk on the other side.  For another, there is currently active development there, and we have no idea what it will look like, unless the new development doesn't put sidewalks it will have been, what like a year or a year and a half of no sidewalk there? There will be a pad site there, so I'm guessing that there will be a sidewalk.

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Remember, JJ, s3mh is a newcomer. He has no idea what Yale (and apparently the steel mill) looked like before this development, because he did not live here. It is still funny to watch him and Leonard work themselves into a frenzy over something that already has been built.

 

But, hey, if you can find a scandal and get Parker beaten at the polls, more power to ya. That would make the dissolution of the historic districts occur just that much quicker. So, God's speed, I say!

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If you are an objective hydrologist, then there has been a big increase in hardscape because dirt is far more permeable than concrete.

As a native Houstonian I can testify that some "dirt" is less permeable than concrete.

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according to the drainage bill tacked on to our water bills...  my wooden deck is hardscape.  I thought there was a lot of paved surface at the old steel mill that had been overgrown.  I seem to remember big piles of crumbled up junk when they first started the dirtwork. 

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Trinity Steel used the entire site, as does the current retail center.  I doubt Trinity Steel let their plant become muddy and boggy retaining rain in their storage and rail yards, there was probably fast artificial drainage offsite even if it wasn't all concrete (which it may have been, I dunno).

Edited by JJxvi
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The idea that Yale was a pedestrian paradise that has been ruined is bunk.  For one, I think there is a sidewalk across the street now that didn't exist before so pedestrians can technically just walk on the other side.  For another, there is currently active development there, and we have no idea what it will look like, unless the new development doesn't put sidewalks it will have been, what like a year or a year and a half of no sidewalk there? There will be a pad site there, so I'm guessing that there will be a sidewalk.

 

The issue isn't whether it is possible for pedestrians to get through the area.  It is possible, but difficult, for pedestrians to get through Yale St. by Walmart.  The real issue is that the justification for ramming through the 380 agreement against stern opposition in the community was that the 380 agreement allowed the City to "get out in front" of the problems posed by new developments instead of playing catch-up.  The major selling point of the 380 agreement was that there would be wider sidewalks and trees that were more than the minimum caliper required.  The reality is that an entire block of sidewalk has been lost, another block of sidewalk has a fire hydrant right in the middle of it, the trees that shaded the sidewalk have all been replaced with planting in the middle of Walmart's parking lot and a four way intersection at Koehler and Yale St. has only two cross walks.  The whole point of the 380 agreement was to get something better than the usual substandard upgrades that get cobbled together when an area is redeveloped.  But that clearly did not happen.  It would just be business as usual if a developer paid their own way and did crappy infrastructure upgrades.  But this developer is getting that expense handled by the tax payers at a time when that new tax revenue could have been used to expand HPD patrols in the Heights to fight the growing crime wave.

 

There will not be any sidewalk along the west side of Yale St. by the new Yale St. Market unless the City takes part of the property by eminent domain or Centerpoint burries the power lines.  They used up the existing right of way to widen Yale St. The developer of the Yale St. Market cannot be required to give up his property without compensation just because the City ran out of ROW.  It should have been part of the 380 agreement, if that agreement was really intended to address infrastructure issues and not be a handout to monied interests.

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One can only tilt at the 380 windmill so long, so I keep waiting for the new outrage over the 24 hour fitness that's supposedly going in.  I was chatting with a couple of people in line at the starbucks and thet were really excited about the gym and having the walmart there. I can only assume they were not from acrosss the highway in the Heights, but from the adjacent west end/washington neighborhood and felt the new develpoment was a benefit to an underserved area. Hmmm.

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The real issue is that the justification for ramming through the 380 agreement against stern opposition in the community

 

Sounds like the same process that "rammed" through with much opposition which now results in my house being in a Hysterical District.

Maybe they sent out "surveys" and you didn't return yours in time which then meant an automatic YES for the 380 and WalMart.

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Okay, as a local homeowner who lives a few blocks north of Wal-Mart and has actually walked to Wal-Mart a few times here is the real situation:

The walk from north of I-10 to the access road is a piece of cake. Sidewalks, oak tree shade, sweet.

Crossing I-10 access roads = Taking your life in your hands (or legs)

- although Tex-DOT built crossing signals in these intersections they are still trash bagged/inoperative

- you're on your own here and Houston Public Works doesn't GAF.

Once you make it past the I-10 access roads, there is no sidewalk along the stretch of road along the old San Jacinto Stone property. Just a very narrow dirt path.

Frankly, I am happy to have Wal-Mart as one of the alternative choices for shopping in walking distance in my neighborhood. What really pisses me off is that despite the massive public outlays of cash this site is very inaccessible on foot.

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Couple of things I think are interesting. First, the last couple of blocks of Yale prior to reaching I-10 are devoid of trees. That is a treeless stretch of several hundred feet. Second, according to HCAD, the strip of grass that has people in fits of rage is a grand total of 155.41 feet long. That is about the width of 3 Heights residential lots. Yes, people are outraged at walking on 155 feet of grass. If I walk from the street to the back of my lot, that is close to 155 feet of grass that I walked on. Of course, I have never actually SEEN any pedestrians on that grass. The people complaining (with the exception of the guy posting above me) have never actually walked on that grass. They simply drive by it, get outraged, go home, log onto HAIF or Swamplot, and post of the outrage they felt as they drove past the grass.

 

I'm impressed at the outrage.

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If you actually went over there, you would see the grass is almost dead from foot traffic cutting a path on that side of the street. People are using it. The only people who aren't using it are handicapped people. But it isn't like there is a federal law protecting their right to access public places. Ainbinder's profit is clearly a greater priority. But the real outrage is over the fact that the justification for the 380 was that it would ensure that the infrastructure improvements needed to support the development were done and not left for the city to do at a later date. What they actually did was to just do the bare minimum they could get away with and leave lots of problems for the city to deal with down the road. And it is not just a short strip of sidewalk. It is a fire hydrant in the middle of another, a bridge that cannot hold even light truck traffic, improper mitigation of lost tree cover, four instead of two crosswalks at Koehler and Yale St. and failure to build a right hand turn lane on Yale southbound at I-10. All these improvements were either required or needed to properly support the development. All were tossed aside just because of cost. Had this really been about providing the public with the infrastructure needed to support the development, the City would have required the developer to do everything needed and to do it the right way, whether out of additional 380 funds or out of pocket or both. Otherwise the 380 agreement is just a transfer of public funds to pad private profits. The standard for public infrastructure isn't like a game of horse shoes. You do not pass muster just because you are close.

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Your real argument is with the City, not Ainbinder and WalMart, who did just what the City ordered. You would have been making the same complaints when HEB failed to "do the right thing" or when the theoretical developers of a mixed use paradise with cute apartments and chef driven eating establishments also failed to "do the right thing". Go complain to Ellen Cohen and see how far you get.

Edited by Ross
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Ross, of course it's mostly the City's fault - I certainly don't disagree with that.  Mayor Parker proposed the 380.  Mayor Parker lied about the 380 being interest free and limited to 10 years of tax rebates on the radio less than a week before the 380 first went to Council.  She also lied about it not being taggable again because the 380 would be rendered "moot" due to financing issues with Ainbinder's tenant.  Duckworth of Ainbinder said there were no financing issues.  Andy Icken lied in the Request for Council Action for the 380 - the summary that Council Members use to inform their votes.   

 

The City still seems to fail to grasp the interest rate if they pay over time instead of a lump sum in January.  It's 10%.  The City seems to think it's 4.25%.  The City's lawyers did an awful job on this contract. 

 

PWE failed to inspect the project as it went along, and apparently gave them occupancy permits even though Ainbinder says they aren't finished yet - and why is it Ainbinder saying whether or not they are finished - isn't that the City's job?  The Walmart has been open for over 6 months.  What is the itemized list and schedule for completion? 

 

Ainbinder and Walmart are responsible too.  Who puts a fire hydrant in the middle of a ADA ramp?  Who builds a sidewalk to nowhere?  Ainbinder and Walmart, on the City's dime, that's who.  Maybe if it had been their own money they would have been a little more careful.  If it had been their own money, I think it's a safe bet they wouldn't have spent over $140K on cosmetic work on a bridge that is scheduled to be demolished.  A bridge that can't support the weight of Walmart's trucks. 

 

You brought up HEB - have you seen the Montrose HEB?  The trees and the outdoor area?  Compare that to the Washington Heights Walmart.  Remember, HEB didn't get a dime of public assistance for that HEB.  Also, remember HEB was also interested in the Washington Heights Walmart spot.  Was the 380 only offered to Ainbinder if Walmart was the retailer? 

 

 

 

 

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I brought up HEB because they were a potential developer for Washington Heights. Absent City oversight, they would have done exactly the same thing Ainbinder/WalMart did.

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