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Opponents Of Future Downtown H-E-B Can Only Hope For The Best

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Downtown SA's upcoming addition,  Flores Market, will no longer face resistance from neighbors. - COURTESY
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  • Downtown SA's upcoming addition, Flores Market, will no longer face resistance from neighbors.

Apparently seeing it now as all but inevitable, downtown residents who had previously opposed a new H-E-B supermarket in their neighborhood have thrown in the towel.

With multiple news reports confirming that construction on the long-anticipated downtown H-E-B is set to begin this summer – causing closure of a portion of South Main Avenue – neighbors who long opposed the project now can only sit and wait to see it unfold.

In December 2013, the city gave the grocery giant a green light to move forward with its $100 million downtown corporate headquarters expansion and new neighborhood grocery and gas station.

Reached for questions on the project's latest developments, H-E-B spokeswoman Kimberly Harle declined to comment.

Dubbed the "Flores Market," the new downtown grocery store will be small at approximately 12,000 square feet with a four-pump gas station adjacent to the store and 50 parking spaces for shoppers, according to architectural renderings.

Years in the making, the store's final approval didn't come without controversy.

Pushed by City Council and former Mayor Julián Castro with the promise of job growth and as part of the "Decade of Downtown," the project raised concerns among residents living along Main Avenue and in the historic King William District.

A group of residents formed a coalition called Main Access to start a protest petition against the project, gathering 2,000 signatures.

"Our concern is that it decreases the walkability and bike-ability, all these things that San Antonio says it wants," said Jason Rodriguez, a lawyer who lives one block south of the Main Avenue and Arsenal Road intersection.

"It's just a question of this major change that's been brought to the neighborhood in spite of the neighborhood itself."

Rodriguez currently walks five blocks north to the Bexar County Courthouse for work, but will have to change his route once the street closures are put in place.

Some of those street improvements promised by H-E-B are finished, including a pedestrian and bike-friendly zone and the opening of Whitley Street.

Cherise Bell, executive director of the King William Association, a neighborhood group that also originally opposed the project, seemed to change her tune after H-E-B agreed to move the nearby senior care center's entrance, which is currently on South Main Avenue.

Plus, apparently there wasn't complete agreement within the group – some actually looked forward to having a grocery store nearby, since now the closest one is on Nogalitos Street.

"Instead of having to drive to a grocery store, people can now walk or bike to it, and a lot of our neighbors like that idea," Bell said.

So it looks like the fight that never was is now officially over. Opponents will keep their fingers crossed that their worst fears won't actually come to fruition.

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