Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Westheimer-Shepherd-Kirby: Do road-improvement projects harm small business?

Roadwork on Westheimer at St. Anne's Church  2140 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Westheimer Road Construction at St. Anne's Church 

Goodyear apparently did not have a good year, not at the Westheimer-Shepherd location anyhow. 

GOODYEAR (signage) Upper Kirby Road Project SignThe tire and car repair shop has closed, and the shop space across from the Kolache Factory and the Randalls parking lot is now posted for lease. It cannot be known for sure whether the perennial roadwork in and around the intersection did them in, but it is a plausible explanation. 

The stretch of Westheimer to the East of the intersection has been as bad as the segment on the other side all the way to Kirby. On the Kirby to Shepherd stretch, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted folded while the excavation and resurfacing project was underway and obstructed easy access to the restaurant's parking lot, and its successor Harwood Grill seems to be struggling too.

Road Closure in front of Harwood's patio on Westheimer 
Roadwork at 60 Degrees spelled doom (Feb 2015 photo)

To be sure, the restaurant property (now with its third tenant in just a few years)  has a nice patio, but what's to enjoy about the view of backhoes, other heavy roadwork equipment, and orange barrels as the defining elements of the street scene?

Caution advised on the way to the French bakery 
Westheimer moonscape 
Chappell Jordan Clock Gallery 2222 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Chappell Jordan clock shop trying to assure would-customers: "Yes We Are Open" 
21eleven, the new apartment complex at the site of the legendary Adobe Cafe, is also badly affected.

21eleven - The apartment complex is finished, but the street re-construction
on Westheimer is not 
The HBJ reports a 80% occupancy rate for the new HINES development, but in the meantime all these new residents are having a tough time getting in and out of their luxurious haunt. The streets conditions in front are quite nightmarish, with pre-fab concrete storm sewer elements currently deposited on site, waiting to be buried. 

Road surface torn up in front of 21eleven garage access drive 
Westheimer Rd construction work at Coronet Cleaners

All that also makes the balcony a less pleasant place to kick back than it would otherwise be with outdoor temperatures coming down to comfort level.

Upper Kirby Westheimer Rd re-construction project sign

At the intersection of Westheimer and Shepherd it's a double-whammy. There, the Upper Kirby "Building Together for the Future" project is not the only one that causes trouble in the present. At that cross-roads, two infrastructure improvement projects currently also intersect.

The other one involves installation of high-capacity storm sewers and re-surfacing North-South that has made a drive on Shepherd between Westheimer and Allen Parkway a perilous adventure in either direction, with narrow one-lane driving on the edge of the abyss. --> Shepherd Drive Roadwork

Which means that going North on Shepherd to connect to Kirby or Memorial Drive is not a viable alternative to negotiating the moonscape between Shepherd to Kirby segment on Westheimer. Nor does the Kirby-Shepherd route make for a viable detour in the other direction.

Irish Pub's Plea on LED sign: Finish Shepherd Please!
The businesses affected by the construction have nothing to celebrate, but one of the contractors ventured to add some festivity to the ugly scene: Strings with colorful pennants  in lieu of bland "CAUTION" or "DO-NOT-CROSS" tape. 

 The festive intersection: Westheimer at Shepherd 

At least someone has a sense of humor to add to the mix. A little something to ease the pain of frustrated drivers stuck in traffic, to cheer up the pedestrians whose acrobatic agility is being tested when they find their path obstructed, and to lift the spirits of the wary business owners and store managers along the road: Hilarity for headaches. Vibrant colors of various hues to add to the red on the balance sheet caused by the construction-induced drop-off of business.

But what if the assumption is mistaken? Could the impaired mobility on Westheimer or Shepherd -- particularly at rush hour -- be good for business after all? What if the traffic mess were to persuade some motorists to pull into the Shepherd Square parking lot for shopping or dining, while waiting for the worst of the congested traffic on the one-lane-only roads nearby to pass. It would make sense.

Randalls has an under-patronized Starbucks; several restaurants offer a variety of food, including kolaches, sandwiches, Chinese classics (Auntie Chang) and Latin American fare (Churrascos); and there is a collection of other retail and service shops. So many, in fact, that one side of the Shepherd Square tenant sign does not even have enough room to list them all.

 Shepherd Square Tenant Directory on Westheimer
 Shepherd Square Tenant Directory on Westheimer (west-facing side) 
Churrascos River Oaks - 2055 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Churrascos River Oaks - 2055 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Retail space leasing at Shepherd Square by Wulfe & Co.
Randalls is the anchor tenant at Shepherd Square,
but there are lots of others (East-facing side of sign) 
Kolache Factory 2045 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Kolache Factory 2045 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Shepherd Square Shopping Center - West-facing side
West side of Shepherd Square Shopping Center fronting South Shepherd 
And for those who prefer to sip tea or try a tapioca concoction in lieu of a latte, there is the ever-popular Tea House, with free wireless as a bonus. 

Also see earlier posts 
--> Owner of Shepherd Square files lawsuit challenging HCAD's property tax appraisal of shopping center (9/24/2015) 
--> The road-construction mess on Westheimer in Upper Kirby (1/7/2015) 
--> Road work and sewer line installation on S. Shepherd causes headaches to businesses (9/2/2105) 


Road closure on S. Shepherd North of Westheimer 

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