By Jeffery L. Boney
When Council Member Dwight Boykins was sworn in to the Houston City Council in 2014 to represent District D, one of his primary goals was to help eradicate food deserts across the district, particularly in areas that were underserved like Houston’s Third Ward community.
After a five-year journey of hard and relentless work, and through the formation of a unique public-private sector partnership with H-E-B, this past Saturday, February 9, Council Member Boykins took a major step forward to addressing food deserts in the Third Ward, as they officially broke ground on a brand new grocery store in an area that has long suffered from limited access to healthy and affordable food options.
The new H-E-B MacGregor Market will be located at the intersection of N. MacGregor Way and State Highway 288. The new 90,000 sq. ft. store will feature expansive shopping options and added services for convenience, quality selection and unsurpassed freshness.
Council Member Boykins was joined by Mayor Sylvester Turner, H-E-B Houston President Scott McClelland, other H-E-B executives, the new MacGregor Market H-E-B leadership and other city leaders to help celebrate this momentous groundbreaking occasion, marking a milestone in District D.
“I am so excited to be able to bring a quality, upscale grocery store to our community,” said Boykins. “Shortly after I was sworn into office, I contacted and asked several retailers to take a tour of our District and the only retailer that responded was H-E-B. I shared that this store could become a sustainable solution for our community and catalyst for economic development, as well as a nationally recognized best practice for public-private partnerships. Clearly, H-E-B got it. The H-E-B MacGregor Market belongs to all of us and should be a hallmark in this city for many years to come.”
Boykins tells the Forward Times that this is the only public/private partnership store in H-E-B’s inventory and that it will create 400 jobs and bring a diversity of products to the area.
“Thanks to the work of officials with H-E-B, the administration of former Mayor Annise Parker, Mayor Sylvester Turner and his team, Houston Community College, the Houston Department of Housing and Community Development, the Houston Housing Finance Corporation, Ms. Licia Green with Waterman Steele, past and current members of my staff, community stakeholders and so many countless others, we are finally crossing the finish line,” said Boykins. “Our community overwhelmingly supported the concept of bringing a grocery store to this site.”
The leadership of H-E-B states that they have been committed to providing a larger store for the Third Ward community for some time.
“This parcel of land affords H-E-B the space needed to build a new, replacement store for our neighbors with expanded offerings and a state-of-the-art design,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B’s Group VP for Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs. “We have thoughtfully designed a store the community will be proud of when we open at the end of this year. We respect this community’s deep culture and commitment to maintaining its residential character while supporting a revitalization of local business. We are confident this store will add to the vibrant commerce in this historic area.”
According to H-E-B leadership, H-E-B MacGregor Market shoppers will enjoy their traditional selections of local favorites, as well as fresh Produce, Dairy, H-E-B Organics, full-service scratch Bakery Department with artisan breads and self-serve pastry items, an expansive Deli featuring in-house roasted meats, full-service Seafood Department, Wine Department with a variety of local, national and international labels to choose from, Healthy Living, a Floral Department offering online ordering, a full-service Meat Market, a full line of Meal Simple items, an in-house Pharmacy with dedicated pick-up and drop-off counters as well as a drive-thru window, and one of H-E-B’s newest features – a dedicated Curbside pick-up area.
Boykins states that he is confident this store will serve as the catalyst for more economic development and revitalization in the Third Ward area, and will be heralded as a national model for public/private partnerships. The store will take nine months to construct and will replace the neighborhood’s current H-E-B on Old Spanish Trail and Scott Street.
Construction on the H-E-B MacGregor Market will begin soon with a completion date scheduled for late 2019 and will replace the current H-E-B in Third Ward, located on Old Spanish Trail and Scott Street. H-E-B leadership states that the new store will be the first of its kind and it is expected to be three times the size of the Old Spanish Trail location. The Old Spanish Trail location will close a day prior to the new store opening, according to H-E-B.