Clear Lake’s HEB in the old Albertsons finally meets it end!

Clear Lake as a city has an interesting history, the 30,000 acres were pieced together by a wealthy businessman to build a ranch on. However, by 1938 the ranch would be sold to Humble Oil company after crude oil fields were found. While Humble began to pump oil from some areas, most of the land sat vacant until 1962, a year after NASA announced plans for the Manned Spacecraft Center. Humble Oil, announced their plans to use the Clear Lake land to build a planned community. They would do so under their Friendswood Development Company, who had already been working the West side of the I-45. To ensure greater success, they would also enlist the help of the Del Webb company, a pioneer in planned communities at that time. The company’s earliest phases of construction were focused towards the NASA development. The majority of land was devoted to housing, with similarly sized sections left for Commercial and Office areas. The original grocers in Clear Lake included Kroger, Eagle, Safeway, and Weingarten. Overtime it became apparent that office space was overbuilt, while some of it was converted into medical and city facilities, other portions were demolished.

Albertsons Clear Lake store at 16811 El Camino Real, Houston, TX 77058 originally opened in September 1996. The store replaced a long-standing set of office buildings, which had held interesting tenants like Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. The new Albertsons would be one of the few major developments in the area at the time. Safeway shut their store down in 1984, opting to move to a Weingarten location on the freeway. Eagle pulled out of Houston in 1985, with a large number of independents to attempt and fill the void at the Clear Lake location. Finally, in 1992 HEB Pantry Foods would land as a stable grocer for the next ten years. In March 2002, Albertsons announced their plans to exit the Houston market. They would attempt to sell off as many locations as they could, and close the rest by that summer. In mid-April, the Clear Lake store would begin a going out of business sale without an announced owner. The remaining stores would not start their closing sales until the end of April. By June of the same year, HEB announced they had acquired two closed Albertsons, including the Clear Lake store. Both locations were meant to replace smaller Pantry stores. The existing Clear Lake Pantry Foods was across the street at 1033 Bay Area Blvd Clear Lake, Webster, TX 77062.

In conclusion, this is a store that has served its purpose. It’s not a surprise that after 20 years in this location, H-E-B has decided to call it quits. The store is obviously showing its age, and does not meet size standards for a modern location. With full line “standards” you’d find at most other stores missing, like curbside pickup, a demo kitchen, or even a pharmacy. While some shopper fare fine without these conveniences, it would be foolish of HEB to not invest in a larger footprint store. While Kroger did not pick up this store due to their construction of a new location in 2001 as part of their push to catch up with Albertsons, if they had, I can only imagine it would likely be in equally rough shape due to its diminutive size. HEB’s new store, like Safeway’s was, is along I-45. No plans have been announced for the future of this building. Interestingly, it is still owned by H-E-B, which leaves many possibilities. It could become a “delivery distribution center”, or possibly be put up for sale, and although unlikely it could see the same fate as its Heberstons cousin on Spencer Highway, which was converted into the first Mi Tienda in 2006.

One comment

  1. It appears the new HEB will be opening on December 29th. I’m not sure when exactly the old one will close, but I suppose it’ll be around that date. With the pending closure of this HEBertsons, the only remaining HEBertsons in Houston will be the Spring Branch one. While I don’t think that store is in any danger of being closed or replaced anytime soon, that HEBertsons does not have a drop ceiling like the Clear Lake HEBertsons so it has a bit less of the Albertsons feel to it. Oh well, given the poor shape of the drop ceiling tiles and the vinyl flooring at this HEBertsons, it’s clear that HEB does not want to put much money into maintaining their stores and so that’s why most HEBs have concrete floors (usually hideous looking ones) and open ceilings.

    I wonder if there is any possibility that this HEBertsons location might get another grocery tenant in the future. Although the new HEB, Kroger, and Aldi provide stiff competition, there could be room for another grocer in that area since it is a pretty strong area. It would probably have to be a niche type grocer like maybe Sprouts to survive with that competition.

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