H-E-B appears to have plans to add to its 420 stores by building a grocer as part of a multi-use project in North Oak Cliff, based on properties the company owns and its communication with the district’s council member. It is unclear whether this project will be Central Market or a regular H-E-B, but all signs point to new development in the future.
For decades, Kroger and H-E-B were in a standoff along Interstate 35; there were no Krogers south of DFW and H-E-B grocery stores avoided the heart of North Texas (though there have been Central Markets in DFW since 2001). Houston, the Switzerland of grocery chains, has both H-E-B and Kroger stores. But earlier this year, H-E-B made headlines when it announced its first DFW locations in Frisco and Plano (which broke ground this week), but Dallas proper was left without any of the beloved stores.
H-E-B has long had a cult following in southern and Central Texas. The San Antonio-based grocer was praised for its support of educational causes and its work to keep shelves stocked during the pandemic. It is also well-known for its H-E-B brand products, baked goods, and pre-packaged foods.
The City Council just approved plans for a Central Market in Uptown that would include the grocery store on the ground level and 800 apartments above. That will replace the former Albertson’s that has sat vacant in the prime piece of real estate for years. But, according to the company’s land holdings, there could be other plans in the works, too.
According to Dallas Central Appraisal District records, H-E-B owns a collection of adjacent properties in Oak Cliff at the intersection of Neely Street and Beckley Ave. The parcels are across the street from a six-story apartment building near the fast-developing Zang corridor.
District 1 City Councilperson Chad West said he was aware the company owned this property, which is in his district, and that it was also in H-E-B’s future plans. He recalled H-E-B telling him that the North Oak Cliff store would follow the tornado-damaged Preston-Royal Central Market’s reopening and after the new Uptown location was complete. West says he was told that H-E-B is “looking for a developer to help facilitate the project for them to turn it into more than just a grocery store, but a multi-use project.” The company declined to provide details about specific plans. In an email a company spokesperson wrote, “We often purchase land in anticipation of future needs. We look forward to serving more areas of DFW in the future.”
The North Oak Cliff location would be a departure from the suburban areas H-E-B has targeted so far in North Texas. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey says the ZIP code for that potential store is 35 percent Black, 54 percent Hispanic, and only 8 percent White. However, the area is quickly developing, so those numbers may change.
There are large, affluent, and Whiter neighborhoods on the other side of Zang adjacent to this store as well. This location is a little over a mile from a Fiesta Mart but nearly three miles from the nearest Tom Thumb, with no Kroger or Whole Foods in the area.
HOLDINGS NEAR OAK LAWN
H-E-B also owns all of the properties on the block bounded by Lemmon, Throckmorton, Reagan, and Bowser avenues, just north of Oak Lawn. This location would be just a few blocks from a Kroger, Tom Thumb, and Whole Foods, reflecting H-E-B’s confidence in its ability to draw customers. It isn’t clear whether this will be a Central Market or a regular H-E-B store. The new location would be in a primarily White ZIP code (60 percent) with a sizable Hispanic (21 percent) population, according to the Census’ numbers.
DCAD’s records show the company owns a few more properties elsewhere in the city. One is a large empty lot at Samuell and Buckner boulevards in southeast Dallas. The company owns another couple of properties in DeSoto that are currently home to a massive Furnitureville Texas SuperCenter at the intersection of I-35 E and Pleasant Run Road. The Buckner location’s ZIP code is 63 percent Hispanic, and the DeSoto location’s ZIP code is two-thirds Black, according to the American Community Survey.
None of the locations are within any of the sizable food deserts, though a major brand opening a grocery store south of I-30 is a rarity in Dallas (several Fiesta Marts and El Rio Grande locations notwithstanding). Between I-30 and I-20 in southern Dallas, there is one Tom Thumb, one Kroger (another in Balch Springs), and zero Whole Foods locations.