Monday, August 10, 2015

2200 Yale; Is Bernie's Burger Bus Coming to the Houston Heights?

Last summer Bernie's Burger Bus made the leap to a brick and mortar location in Bellaire, complementing their hamburger-building bus fleet. Is a second bus stop in the Houston Heights on schedule?

On my bike ride on Friday I noticed that Alabama Furniture at 2200 Yale Street had posted signage announcing that their lease is ending, and they would be moving. (After talking to employees at Alabama Furniture, they have until no later than March to be out of the building). Braun Enterprises owns the property at 2200 Yale, and has even devoted an elaborate mural to announce the site's redevelopment.

The real estate flyer on the Braun Enterprises website shows the site being redeveloped into a strip center with a front parking lot adjacent to both Yale Street and 22nd Street. For those who live in the Heights area, or come visit the Heights area, this is a part of Houston that still maintains a distinct streetscape and character. Unfortunately, redevelopment in many parts of the Heights and throughout Houston is the cookie-cutter susburban-esque strip center. At first blush this site seemed destined for the same treatment: the suburbanization of the Heights and inner-loop Houston continues.

A previous site plan for 2200 Yale on the Braun Enterprises website

However, I was pointed to an updated real estate listing from Edge Realty Partners, thankfully with an updated site plan. For preservationists and urbanists alike, this updated design will help maintain some of the urban, walkable streetscape character of the Heights. The site plan preserves most of the existing building at 2200 Yale, which sits adjacent to the sidewalk along both Yale and 22nd streets, as well as the building at 2222 Yale, the former Fashion Touch Cleaners. Based on the site plan, there may even be an attempt to preserve the existing large tree that sits behind the former Midtown Floors building at 2220 Yale.

An updated site plan for 2200 Yale on the Edge Real Estate website

As exciting as rear parking lots and the preservation of trees is, the most telling part of the site plans for 2200 Yale is a possible first tenant. Plans on the Edge Realty site show that Bernie's Burger Bus may be planning their second brick and mortar location.

A future Bernie's Burger Bus restaurant in the Heights?

If so, this is exciting culinary news for the Heights, adding to an already robust selection of dining. Districts like the Houston Heights attract people because of their design and streetscape, however, much of Houston is losing this type of development (some of which can be attributed to our city's ordinances). Urban districts are becoming suburbanized and homogeneous in design. It's refreshing to see that this site may be saved from that same fate, especially considering the redevelopment potential that Yale Street has for its future, and that it has already seen.