by BRAD ROLLINS
HEB is planning to expand the larger of its two San Marcos stores by 15,000 square feet and remodel the interior to include more space for perishable foods like produce, dairy and bakery.
The city issued construction permits to San Antonio-based Joeris General Contractors on April 23 for $2.5 million in remodeling work to the HEB supermarket at 641 E. Hopkins Street.
The expansion will increase floor space in the 73,000-square-foot store by more than 20 percent, bringing it closer to consumers’ increasingly outsized expectations. Though the East Hopkins store is “the big HEB” in local parlance — compared to the truly tiny former Safeway-turned-HEB at 200 W. Hopkins — it is small when peoples’ frame of reference includes Wal-Mart’s ubiquitous 185,000 square-foot Supercenters. Kyle’s HEB Plus store, which opened in 2009 at the center of blossoming retail hub, weighs in at 150,000 square feet and peddles clothing, furniture and electronics in addition to foodstuff.
The “wall-to-wall” renovations in San Marcos include new shelving, freezers and refrigeration cases and the addition of more prepared foods, said Tamara Jones, a spokesperson for the grocery chain. New features will include a pizzeria and rotisserie chicken restaurant with outdoor seating as well as a Texas Front Yard outdoor section with a plant nursery, barbecue grills and pottery.
In April, the city council approved a development agreement with HEB that allows the store to exceed city impervious cover rules that otherwise would have kept the store from adding on. Built in 1985, the big HEB is currently grandfathered at 83 percent impervious cover and will be allowed to add 4 percent under the agreement.
In exchange, HEB agreed to donate 13 feet of right-of-way along Thorpe Lane to accommodate new sidewalks and a dedicated right turn lane into HEB. The store agreed to make its Hopkins Street driveway a right-in, right-out only driveway to prevent people blocking traffic on Hopkins while waiting to turn into the HEB parking lot.
After rejecting all bids in mid-April, the city council on Tuesday accepted a low bid of $1,702,739 from Austin-based Capital Excavation to remake the intersection of Hopkins Street and Thorpe Lane to move traffic better. The work includes a new raised median on Hopkins and the addition of turn lanes to both Thorpe and Hopkins.
Under the agreement, HEB will also build a stormwater detention pond on the property and install better landscaping to shield the pond and truck loading dock from street visibility.
The addition will add about $1.2 million to the store’s taxable value, currently set by the Hays Central Appraisal District at $3,804,370, and generate $70,000 in year in additional property taxes and $17,000 a year in additional sales tax, according to Greater San Marcos Partnership executive director Amy Madison. HEB will add 10 jobs for a total of 289 employees and a payroll of $8.3 million.
In addition to employees at its two San Marcos stores, HEB employs 650 people at its regional distribution center on Hunter Road.