This Week in Demolition: So long Safeway, it’s been nice!

Howdy everyone, this week in demolition we’re spoiled for choice! Not only do we have a good number of interesting homes, but a very interesting store to boot! As this is at heart a retail blog, we’ll start off with our retail based demolitions. The main focus of which is 4805 Old Galveston Road, as pictured below. Many readers may recognize this as a former Safeway, and you are quite correct. The even keener eyed reader may remember its stint as an AppleTree, which is also true. However, today’s focus is on the somewhat special role this store took on during the transition years between the two chains. Starting with a bit of history the store was mostly constructed in and opened in October 1974. It was one of the first Safeway stores in the area as the chain had only been in Houston for about 4 years at this point. The store served as the only full line grocery store within walking distance for multiple neighborhoods. Unlike many other Safeways in the Houston this location was not anchoring a shopping center, and butted up against land that had been commercially developed since the 1950s. As time wore on demographics in the neighborhood changed and little time or money was invested in the store. The facade did receive an update during the 80s adding a little bit of extra backroom space but other than that this was a pretty small store coming in at under 30,000 Square Feet.

When Houston Safeway management became aware of a possible sell-out or closure of their division they began to experiment with ways to turn around under performing stores. 4805 Galveston fit the bill perfectly, it was undersized, not near a main highway, and was not doing a great job of targeting the neighborhood. As an experiment this location was one of stores that would be turned into Safeway Budget Stores in December 1987. This concept, emphasized on cutting overall costs to the customer. Prices at budget locations were not the same as other Safeway stores. The locations even had their own circular. Some of the cost-cutting methods included a dedicated clearance section, changing product selection to include lower priced options, and most drastically closing all service departments. The stores somewhat resembled H-E-B Pantry Foods locations and this is no coincidence as H-E-B had begun to creep into Safeway Houston division territory throughout the early 80s. Although it was noted that the locations would be rebranded as AppleTree Budget Stores the moniker seems to have been dropped. It seems that the Budget Store concept died with Safeway. In 1992 this along with multiple other AppleTree locations were put up for sale as part of their bankruptcy. This location was purchased by Cox’s Foodarama who operated this store until sometime last year. While I can’t find an exact date for closure I would think it was sometime around the summer. The interior of the building had been covered in plastic sheeting and taped off, so it seems possible that a renovation may have been planned. Although according to HCAD the property has been sold to a new owner as of December 2020, and permits have been filed for a new gas station on this corner.

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Well if you made it this far you’re probably looking for houses and don’t worry we’ve got some good ones for you. Let’s start off with 308 Avenue of Oaks Street, with such a prestige street name it was likely to have been home to someone important. This modest 1950s two bedroom is in surprisingly good shape, and has a surprise out back. The bell from the Lindale Firehouse! I’ll leave you to ponder who owned this home. Next we have 2014 Arlington Street, while the name isn’t as nice (I mean who would want to live in the arm pit of DFW?) the structure itself is the real winner here! This awesome Brick Craftsman looks just as awesome and retro on the outside as it does on the inside. While I can’t find an exact date on it based on the pier foundation and styling 30s or 40s wouldn’t surprise me. Finally, we have a very odd one, 3701 Trout Street. This house is not finished, and also not on its intended lot. 3701 Trout is actually a construction yard used by a company buys old houses brings them here to renovate and then moves them to new locations. According to their website they do new constructions sometimes too. It looks like someone ordered this house, and possibly backed out? I’m not really sure, but after listing it on HAR, it’s now being demolished, likely due to costs of raw materials of which are rapidly rising. Well I hope you all enjoyed This Week in Demolition, please let me know what you thought of our little retail detour in the comments.

This is a list of the buildings which received a City of Houston demolition permit the week before this post.

Residential Buildings
3701 Trout St, Houston, TX 77093– Epsom Downs Place, Half Finished, Photos
6206 San Felipe St, Houston, TX 77057– Briargrove, 1950s Ranch, Garage Only, Photos
308 Avenue of Oaks St, Houston, TX 77009– Lindale Park, Contains the old Lindale Park Firehouse Bell in Backyard, Photos
1138 W Bell St, Houston, TX 77019– Rosemont Heights, 1940s Cottage, Photos
7202 Avenue J, Houston, TX 77011– Magnolia Park, 1940s, Photos
2014 Arlington St, Houston, TX 77008– Heights, 1920s Craftsman, Photos
10312 Brinwood Dr, Houston, TX 77043– Shadow Oaks, 1950s Ranch, Photos
11119 Chatterton Dr, Houston, TX 77043– Sherwood Estates, Photos
13126 Highwood Rd, Houston, TX 77079– Gaywood, Photos
2617 Morrison St, Houston, TX 77009– Highland Park, 1920s Cottage, Photos, Video
4707 Braesvalley Dr, Houston, TX 77096– Meyerland, 1950s, Photos

7509 Santa Fe Dr, Houston, TX 77061– Garden Villas, 1930s Two-story, Photo
5030 Cheena Dr, Houston, TX 77096– Meyerland, 1960s Ranch, New home by David Weekley, Photos

Non-Residential Buildings
3503 Elysian St, Houston, TX 77009– John’s Grocery, Building abandoned multiple holes in roof, Photos
10600 Telephone Rd, Houston, TX 77075– Steel Supply Inc
810 Marston St, Houston, TX 77019– Office Building
4805 Galveston Rd, Houston, TX 77017– Cox’s Foodarama #9, former Safeway #938

2 comments

  1. My did grew up around the corner from this Safeway, though he moved a little before it opened. Another good example of a similarly sized and aged Safeway building that retained a lot of their prominent features, especially those pebbled exterior walls, is the location at 3316 Ave. H in Rosenberg that is now occupied by Walgreens and Aaron’s (naturally, as Rosenberg is a leader in retail reuse).

  2. Yes, that old Safeway most certainly still looks like a Safeway. It has the trademark columns which were so common in earlier Houston-area Safeway locations even if the columns aren’t as impressive as they might have been in larger stores. It’s rather remarkable how many Houston-area Safeways are still standing and still look like what the Safeways used to look like even 30 + years after Safeway left town initially. I suppose it’s hard to do much to those columns to change how they look in any cost efficient manner. A good number of those old Safeways still have grocery stores in them as well.

    I wonder if something is going on with Foodarama. I know they closed the Fuqua & Sabo store in the old Randall’s at some point in 2020. I hope these Grocers Supply-supplied stores are not struggling here in modern times.

What do you think?