A Streetscape Behind a Multi-Story Grocery Store? Why?

Construction is underway on Fifth St. alongside H-E-B.  The City of Bellaire decided to narrow 60 foot wide commercial streets to 26 feet wide (about the width of a residential street).  Traveled every day by 18-wheelers and delivery trucks!   And our local businesses are in trouble. 

The $5.2 million project budget for Spruce/Fifth and Maple/Bolivar was approved by Bellaire City Council on February 18, 2019.

The construction contract for Spruce and Fifth alone is $2.5 million.  Add at least half of the  million dollars in engineering contracts and you’re at $3 million dollars, which includes $360K for the landscaping.

The plan includes a ‘streetscape’ – angled public parking, irrigation systems, landscaping, fancy lamp posts and trees, moving the utilities, etc.  In commercial service areas along side and behind a large 2-1/2 story grocery store.

This streetscape will:

  • Narrow commercial thoroughfares traveled every day by large delivery trucks and 18-wheelers, including all the H-E-B deliveries.
  • Endanger pedestrians walking across streets to get to businesses.
  • Obstruct private business parking lots by installing public parking.
  • Make deliveries to businesses difficult or impossible.
  • Leave little or no room to maneuver large trucks or emergency vehicles. There are no fire lanes.
  • Create hazards to drivers backing out in lanes of traffic.
  • Create hazards to drivers exiting the H-E-B underground parking lot onto Fifth.

The business and property owners agreed long ago on the need for street and drainage reconstruction, however they oppose the streetscape design.  So do many Bellaire residents.  Sidewalks could be incorporated  into existing driveways.

Note H-E-B’s original plan for sidewalks and landscape.

H-E-B chose not to build the planned sidewalks for their store along Spruce and Fifth because they knew the streets would be demolished for the new construction.  They wonder why the City didn’t do this work before the construction of the store.

What about maintaining all this?  We still have flooded homes,  streets in need of repair or replacement, old water pipes and water leaks all over the city, serious problems with drainage and our aging infrastructure. 

To reiterate:

  • On a commercial street that runs behind a large grocery store.
  • In an area that includes small service businesses, not shops or boutiques. 
  • Jax, on the corner of Spruce and South Rice for the past 25 years, will lose parking spaces and so lose business.  They stand to lose all the spaces allowed in the street, since that area will be become public parking and open for use by anyone, not just customers.
  • Same thing for other businesses on these streets, many in business for 25 years or more.
  • The value of a commercial property will decline if a business can no longer provide on-site parking for customers.  Think of Rice Village along Rice Blvd without the pull-in parking spaces in front of the businesses.

One train of thought says that this is a plan to drive out the businesses so that a developer can build multi-story apartments and condos along the north side of Spruce.

Is this what you thought you were voting for if you voted Yes for the $54 million dollar 2016 Bonds for Better Bellaire?   Give this some thought, because the City Manager and City Council are discussing  another $47 million bond issue for 2019 or 2020!   

Bellaire’s Debt will be $129.8 million at the end of FY2019
Not including the interest

Email the Mayor and City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton at tdutton@bellairetx.gov.  Ask her to forward your email to the Council.

Two lanes now. Half of the street turns into parking.

‘Streetscape’ view of rear of H-E-B.