The future of a Bellaire street located within one of the first shopping centers in the city could be on the chopping block for a potential new purpose: parking lot space.

The portion of Mapleridge Street up for consideration is approximately 0.3804 acres of land and valued at nearly $1.5 million, according to city documents. It is situated between Bellaire Boulevard and Bissonnet Street, and is property that longtime developers in the area are seeking to acquire from the city of Bellaire.

The Bellaire Triangle, situated between Chimney Rock Road, Bissonnet Street and Bellaire Boulevard, was developed in 1959 as one of the city’s first shopping centers and encompasses nearly 8 acres. Mapleridge Street splits the east and west sides of the Triangle. The one-story retail shopping center has not received renovations since the late '90s, according to Dan Meyer, the leasing director for MC Management and Development, which owns the property that includes the Triangle.

The three entities involved are Luel Partnership Ltd., EKG Partners LLC—which includes Meyer from MC Management—and FKM Partnership Ltd. Luel and EKG officials wrote in their petition to the city that their goal if the land is acquired is to change the land within the Bellaire Triangle from a public street into a private parking area that would contain at least 20 parking spaces, landscaping and have pedestrian access between the two adjoining properties, according to the March 6 agenda documents.

Meyer told residents March 6 what acquiring Mapleridge street could mean for the community.

“Our plan to re-envision the Bellaire Triangle stemmed from the fact that none of these buildings have had an extensive renovation since the mid ’90s,” Meyer said. “So nearly 30 years, and we think it’s long overdue. More importantly though, our desire is to create a sense of place where Bellaire citizens can find a unique shopping and dining experience, enjoy outdoor patio landscaping and amenity space, find a truly walkable environment over the entire development, and spend their money in their community.”

An analysis about the potential impact the closure could bring to traffic in the area was also reviewed by a third-party on behalf of the city, according to Bellaire Development Services Director Travis Tanner. The report found that the street closure would not significantly impact traffic in the area as mentioned by Tanner.

During the March 6 public hearing at City Hall, two residents spoke to council members in opposition of the sale, and at least 14 residents submitted their opposition in writing. Bellaire resident and Realtor Rachel Crochet said she does not want to give the street away undervalued, and said it is inevitable that traffic will be impacted in the area contrary to the traffic report submitted by the developers

“If by some chance, ya’ll do decide to do this, I want to be sure that whoever does this pays that $1.4 million dollars for that property—no letting them get by,” Crochet said. “Don’t let them even do half. It’s worth $1.4 million dollars, maybe more.”

Longtime Bellaire resident Jane McNeel submitted her letter to city staff online March 5 and said Mapleridge Street is “more than an important route for anyone traveling to or from the Post Office.” McNeel added that “many Bellaire residents would be greatly inconvenienced if it were abandoned.”

Vice Mayor Pro Tem Winfred Frazier asked Meyer what would happen if the street closure and sale does not occur, and Meyer replied that the exterior of the shopping center will still be updated, but the center would lose the upgraded offerings without the space.

Retired engineer and Bellaire resident Joe Tedore said once he heard about the potential closure of Mapleridge Street, he sat one morning counting the number of cars that passed through. He counted a couple hundred, including multiple police and emergency service vehicles. He said if the city sells the land, they will have no control over what may happen next, especially if the plan shifts.

“I don’t think that asset should be given, because theoretically, as this develops, that street—instead of being worth $1.5 million—it could be worth $3 million or $4.5 [million]. I think the developer has the right, if he gets it; next day he may change his mind, and he could sell it, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.

Bellaire City Council will make its final decision March 20 regarding the Mapleridge Street right-of-way abandonment next to the Bellaire Triangle shopping center. Residents can submit written comments to City Council before the final deliberation by visiting Bellaire's website or by emailing Bellaire City Clerk Tracy Dutton at [email protected].

The deadline for public comment is noon on Thursday, March 16.