The H-E-B store currently under construction in the new Kingwood Main Street development at the intersection of Kingwood Drive and W. Lake Houston Pkwy. will open Oct. 26, nearly three weeks earlier than originally planned. The news was announced at the Aug. 11 monthly board meeting of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 10 (TIRZ). H-E-B Area Community Coordinator Jules Foniciello explained the earlier-than-planned opening.
“The opening was November 15 that we wanted to serve our customers in time to get ready for the holidays, but we have been able to move it forward. When it opens it will have all the bells and whistles,” said Foniciello.
When asked if all the “bells and whistles,” would be open, Foniciello assured the group they would. She highlighted the new services which include a Pan-Asian fusion restaurant, curbside pickup for groceries ordered through H-E-B’s online ordering service, an expanded healthy foods department and an expanded produce section. It will also have a “Cooking Connection” area where customers can learn to cook.
The board spent most of the meeting reviewing the status of ongoing projects. Liz Jacob, executive vice president of Lovett Commercial Properties, reviewed the other Kingwood Main Street projects underway.
“We have awarded the contract on the left-turn lanes at Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway, so we will be starting toward the end of the month,” said Jacob.
She said she thought the turn lanes would be completed by the end of October.
For the signals at Kingwood Drive and Kings Crossing Drive, contracts are expected by Aug. 22 and work completed by the end of October, according to Jacob.
Paving is complete on Kings Crossing Drive with all the utilities, but still outstanding are the barricade at the dead end, road striping and signage.
The status of the Northpark Drive Project, which is in its developmental stages for purposes of funding, was provided by Truman Edminster of Edminster, Hinshaw, Russ and Associates, the engineering firm selected to develop the project.
“The agreement with TxDOT has been out a couple of months and I am hoping it pops out right after Labor Day,” said Edminster. “We have reached an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad to start working with them. I have not received it in writing yet, but I am sure it is on the way. On the roadway bridge, we have actually refined some processes from project meeting comments and will be presenting them back to the Project Committee next Friday.”
He explained the actual topographic surveying is complete and his firm is finishing the background text for the alignment and adjacent landowners. A meeting has been scheduled with the TxDOT Drainage Department for project coordination and the exhibits for the drainage and detention alternatives are in process.
Mike Mahon of the Goodman Corporation, the firm evaluating anticipated benefits of the Northpark Drive Project, explained the evaluations were progressing. He indicated the preliminary data was beginning to look promising from a cost benefits standpoint.
“So far it looks like the Northpark Drive Project will significantly improve (traffic flow) on Northpark Drive and Kingwood Drive, which is very good news,” Mahon said.
Bryan Brown of Walter P. Moore & Associates reported results of the work they were doing to evaluate the impact of additional turn lanes at three high-traffic intersections not included in the Northpark Drive Project.
“In no priority order, they are West Lake Houston at Northpark, West Lake Houston at Kings Crossing and Hamblen Road at Forest Cove,” said Brown. We started polling them in June and surveys were completed in early August. As soon as we got those reports back we started to work on design.”
Brown explained the types of improvements being considered so far are a dedicated left-turn lane heading eastbound on Hamblen Road and adding a right-turn lane at Kings Crossing going northbound on W. Lake Houston Pkwy. to turn right onto Kings Crossing. These lanes will help keep the “through” traffic volumes from being affected by cars backing up too far when waiting to turn. The third intersection may be different.
“The last is Northpark at Lake Houston where there may be improvements beyond just adding a single turn lane,” Brown said. He explained they are doing further study because the traffic is backing up worse there and in different directions. The back-ups may be reduced by more and longer turn lanes rather than a single turn lane as originally contemplated.
“We will have definitive information next month,” Brown said.
The board approved payment of project bills totaling $1,899,072.84. This included $1,800,000 to Friendswood Development Company for its 2016 developer payments.
Board Chairman Stan Sarman said that in order to review and approve audit reports required by the City of Houston to be submitted Sept. 30, the board needed to meet near the end of next month. Board members agreed and selected Thursday, Sept. 29. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the Kingwood Community Center, 4102 Rustic Woods Drive.