A new H-E-B is slated to come to Georgetown’s Wolf Lakes Village pending final City Council approval, it was announced during a March 9 council workshop meeting.
Wolf Lakes Village is a 164-acre master-planned community that will be located on the corner of I-35 and West University Avenue just north of Wolf Ranch Town Center. It will include the Ascension Seton medical office building, mixed-use residential and commercial retail and office spaces, townhomes and a few single-family homes. Wolf Lakes LP President Iva Wolf McLachlan said the site is also working to include a Fortune 500 company headquarters.
The new H-E-B would be located on University Avenue between I-35 and Wolf Lakes Drive.
The announcement came as the Wolf Lakes Village Planned Unit Development, or PUD, presented minor changes to the agreement with the city predominantly focused on slight beautification and aesthetics changes.
If approved, the new H-E-B will be able to close on the contract with Wolf Lakes LP to purchase the land. This store would replace the current store east of I-35 on University Avenue and meet the beautification and architectural standards set by the PUD, including having a European aesthetic that will encompass all of Wolf Lakes Village, Wolf McLachlan said.
“We're holding H-E-B to high standards, and to their credit H-E-B is on board to meet those standards and make this store one of the best, most beautiful H-E-Bs in the state of Texas,” she said during the meeting.
While H-E-B owns the land next to the current H-E-B and had initially planned to build a new store on that property, H-E-B Real Estate Director Jared O'Brien said when looking into it, the company found itself constrained on what could be built due to flood plains, transmission lines and other issues.
In addition, a main driver in opening a new store is due to needed major upgrades to the current store, which opened in the 80s, O’Brien said.
If H-E-B was to remain at its current location, it would need to invest $6 million-$12 million in new refrigerators alone to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that go into effect in about a year and a half, he said.
If the company made that investment, it would not leave its current location for many years, nor would it invest in any other upgrades leaving an older store for Georgetown residents, Wolf McLachlan added.
Instead, by relocating to Wolf Lakes Village, H-E-B will invest $50 million into a new store with a series of upgrades including a drive thru-pharmacy and a barbecue restaurant with ground-level and balcony-level seating, O’Brien said.
The new store would also be about twice the size of the current store at 117,000 square feet, he said.
“We're replacing an obsolete store that does not serve Georgetown well, does not represent the H-E-B brand well, and bring[ing] something we believe is special to Georgetown with the best that H-E-B has to offer,” O’Brien said.
A firm open date for the new location and close date for the current location have not been disclosed. But Wolf McLachlan said with the coming new EPA regulations on the refrigerators, H-E-B is highly motivated to move quickly on the project, pending final approvals.
Next the project will go to the planning and zoning commission, which will then offer a recommendation to City Council. Following two council approvals, Wolf McLachlan said H-E-B will then complete the feasibility study and submit a site development plan for approval. If all goes according to plan, Wolf McLachlan said a closing could occur by late summer with potentially 10-12 additional months for the structure to be built.
Concerns about grocery store accessibility to residents living on the east side of town were raised during the council workshop meeting, but O’Brien said H-E-B still owns property on at 1460 Inner Loop and plans to build a store there at some point.
"I understand those concerns, and I want to let you guys know that that though we are moving the store slightly west and on the other side of I-35, this does not represent in any way H-E-B’s abandonment of the east side of Georgetown,” O’Brien said. “In each of the communities in which we serve, we expect to serve all of the customers within those communities.”
Georgetown also has an H-E-B location at 4500 Williams Drive, Georgetown.