Back in 2010 the Houston City Council approved the very controversial Walmart Super Center in Washington Heights. The developer Ainbinder and the city signed a 380 agreement.
That agreement calls for the city to reimburse the developer $6 million for infrastructure improvements in the area surrounding the 23 acre lot...Improvements like side walks and trees.
Former Houston City Councilman Peter Brown says, "I've told the Mayor this how could we allow this kind of stuff to happen, it would never happen in Dallas, it would never happen in San Antonio, it would never happened in Austin."
This is what architect and former Houston City Councilman Peter Brown is fuming about...three years later this is that commercial development of that Walmart in Washington Heights.
Remember the City plans to reimburse the developer $6 million for infrastructure improvements. Let's start off with a fire hydrant in the middle of a sidewalk...Here on Yale all the oak trees have been replaced by power poles, a side walk once there is now gone. Also the new curbs are already cracking and crumbling...and take a look at these...along side the Walmart Brown says sidewalks to nowhere...in the back of the store this public side walk is 207 yards...It begins in the dirt and ends at railroad tracks...along the way you may notice the grass is overgrown.
Brown says, "this was a great opportunity that was squandered by suburban type development it's shameful shameful."
Trying to cross the street on Yale in the area developed that includes other businesses is kind of scary according to some...They say in a city that strives to be pedestrian friendly this is a run-over waiting to happen.
Eileen Reed says, "our whole organization and neighborhood are devastated by the impact of this project."
Reed is the director of Responsible Urban Development for Houston and a resident of the Heights...She says the city - its planning and public works department all dropped the ball. Reed says what they have is a dismal display of big box urban disaster and a drainage problem waiting to happen.
"We're very disappointed that the city is not more carefully inspecting and more rigorously inspecting the adherence to the agreement they signed with the developer," says Reed.
That 380 agreement gives the city a lot of say about the final product in Washington Heights but those who are active in the community say that simply is not being done. Tom Dornbusch is president of super neighborhood 22...covering the development.
Dornbusch says, "this is really a loss opportunity on a site that's as large as this to do really...mixed use urban development that would be compatible with the sort of residential that we have going on in the surrounding neighborhood."
WE WANTED TO KNOW HOW THE CITY OF HOUSTON AND THE DEVELOPER ARE RESPONDING TO THE ISSUE...ALVIN WRIGHT WITH THE CITY'S PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT SAYS THEY HAVE BEEN MADE AWARE OF THE ISSUES AT THE WASHINGTON HEIGHTS SITE...HOWEVER, HE SAYS THE CITY HAS BEEN TOLD BY THE DEVELOPER THE PROJECT IS NOT FINISHED AND PROBLEMS LIKE THE HYDRANT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK WILL BE ADDRESSED...ALSO WE CALLED AND EMAILED THE DEVELOPER AINBENDER COMPANY AND SO FAR WE HAVE NOT HEARD BACK.