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H-E-B construction plans offer more details of Wooded Acres store expansion in Waco

H-E-B construction plans offer more details of Wooded Acres store expansion in Waco

HEB River Bend Center (copy)

The H-E-B at Wooded Acres and Bosque is up for a $14 million expansion.

The H-E-B grocery store at Wooded Acres Drive and Bosque Boulevard will get more space for its produce, bakery and seafood departments, a second entrance off Lake Air Drive and expanded curbside service, according to construction plans submitted to the city of Waco for the $14 million project.

H-E-B, which has five locations in Greater Waco, has not publicly commented on its plans for the store that opened in 1998. But the city of Waco confirmed it has issued a permit placing construction costs at $14 million.

Plans examined by city departments before the permit was issued show a 17,740-square-foot expansion and a “squaring off” of the 106,000-square-foot store on the side nearest Bosque Boulevard, said Bobby Horner, spokesperson for the city’s inspection services department. H-E-B typically displays lawn and garden products and shopping baskets on walkways just outside the store entrance there. Produce is the first department visitors see.

Horner said plans feature what he believes is a larger storage area for dairy products, as well as expanded restrooms and offices. He said the expansion likely would necessitate upgrades to plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, contributing to the $14 million cost.

He said exterior touches, including the use of glass, stucco-type material and landscaping, suggest H-E-B wants to give the store a look more in line with its newer building designs, and to eliminate signs of aging.

“At one time, there was discussion by H-E-B about a car wash at this store, but it never materialized and does not appear on plans,” Horner said.

He said the $14 million price could reflect current market conditions.

“I know construction costs really have gone up,” Horner said. “I’ve talked with contractors who have encountered problems getting some materials in a timely fashion, or at all, since COVID-19 struck.”

Horner said it is his understanding H-E-B has acquired property along Lake Air Drive near Bosque Boulevard, making it feasible to supply parking and landscaping near the existing and new entrance off Lake Air Drive.

Horner said plans also indicate increased curbside service availability.

Ipsos, a global research firm, recently released results of its E-Commerce Experience Report, a shopping study assessing consumer response to curbside, delivery and online shopping options offered by major brands nationwide. It surveyed 2,000 Americans and had representatives conduct 150 “mystery shops” at each brand included in the study.

Sam’s Club and Kroger, respectively, led the pack in the curbside grocery pickup category. But H-E-B ranked first in grocery delivery with a 99% accuracy rate, according to a press release. Whole Foods and ALDI followed right behind with deliveries pegging 95% accuracy.

Moves in Waco reflect steps H-E-B is taking elsewhere in Central Texas.

Supermarket News reported H-E-B plans to increase its presence in South Austin with a $200 million investment that includes three new stores and a major remodel. A new H-E-B store on South Congress in Austin Avenue likely would take two years to complete, according to the trade magazine, “and will be designed as a community gathering place, including a food hall with indoor and outdoor dining spaces and the chain’s first-ever beer garden.”

The magazine reported the new H-E-B also will feature two levels of underground parking and a “pedestrian friendly perimeter” to include tree-lined sidewalks to encourage walking and bicycling.

This store and others in Austin would include “designs reflecting the look and feel of their neighborhoods,” and would have green touches including water retention ponds and environmentally friendly refrigeration and solar panels.

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