Houston council members plan to bring H-E-B to Third Ward 'food desert'

HOUSTON – The closed up shop, Mom's Food Store, was one of the only places that sold groceries in the Third Ward neighborhood.

"The food that they did sell was like expired," former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones said.

Jones says it's been a 20 year struggle, getting access to healthy food near her home.

"You're putting in fried food that we used to get from Mom's Store, or stale milk, or expired bread that we would be forced to buy if we didn't have access to transportation," Jones said.

But that could soon change with the fenced off plot of land.

"Things certainly will move much quicker now that we know that the project has been approved," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Calling the neighborhood a 'food desert,' Councilman Dwight Boykins got approval Wednesday, hoping to solve the problem with a brand new H-E-B.

"But also provide 250 plus jobs in the community," Boykins said.

Neighbor Bruce Bacon says they're used to driving at least 20 minutes to find fresh food, especially with their closest Kroger just recently closing up.

"It's how we've been having to do it since we moved in," Bacon said.

But he's relieved those days of driving may soon expire.

"And it will be great to have it around the street, so we can walk to it or ride our bicycles to it or something like that?" Bacon said.

The project is expected to cost $13.8 million dollars. Some $8.8 million is coming from federal grants, and the rest is coming from federal loans.

Council members wanted to make it clear that H-E-B will not be receiving any governmental funding for this project.

The mayor says they should be closing on the deal within the next three to four months.

H-E-B has also released a statement:

"While we await the due process following City Council’s vote to allow the purchase of land at 288 and MacGregor, it is premature for H-E-B to comment on specific plans for this parcel of land. However, we can share that we are excited about the prospect of building a new store to serve the Third Ward Riverside community."