New HEB brings diverse food options, much-needed jobs to Third Ward community

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HOUSTON – On Dec. 18, the MacGregor Market H-E-B opened its doors for the first time after nearly 11 months post-groundbreaking. Located at the corner of N. MacGregor Way and South Freeway (SH 288), the new supermarket replaces the previous neighborhood market located on Scott and Old Spanish Trail (OST).

Winell Herron, Vice President of Diversity and Environment Affairs, said it took some time to coordinate and get through the challenges with the land deal which broke ground Feb. 9.

“The groundbreaking was on a Saturday, and Monday morning they were already moving dirt and getting started on the build,” she said.

“We have some great partnerships with the city, Houston Housing, Houston Community Colleges (HCC), elected officials like the mayor and Councilmember Boykins,” Herron said. “So many people came together and worked with us and there was this shared focus and commitment to bringing a great store to [Third Ward].”

Anika Wiley, store director, said the company is expanding and she looks forward to the differences being made in such a short period.

“The new job opportunities are the most underrated thing that were doing right now,” Wiley said. “We had 114 partners [at the OST store] and now we have 420…that’s a lot of new jobs in the community. It’s made a big impact.”

Lisa Heldman, director of public affairs, said it was important to build the community by offering more job opportunities to the area.

“It’s really an amazing thing to be near all of these universities and schools,” she said. “Bringing this many jobs into this community is something special.”

Victoria Denestan is a student and newly-employed cashier at the MacGregor Market. She wrote a research paper on food deserts and is very aware of the impact that the new supermarket will have, not only with area job growth, but on the Third Ward community’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables moving forward.

“We don’t have to eat just snacks and junk food. We have the options of fresh food now,” Denestan said. “If we want sushi, we can get sushi now [too].”

Not only is the new facility offering a convenient route and location off SH 288, but it’s opening the neighborhood up to a larger selection of fresh foods. The MacGregor Market has expanded its available store services to include a larger bakery and deli, which houses an array of roasted meats and cheese shop, grass fed beef and organic meat market, a seafood steaming service and sushi bar.

“The variety is amazing and I’m really excited about it because I go to school right down the street,” Denestan said. “Knowing that I have a store in my neighborhood that has a good variety of different options of foods that you couldn’t really find in this area is really exciting to me.”

Herron said having a variety was important in the planning process.

“There’s a lot of diversity in this area, so we want to make sure that everyone is able to find exactly what they need,” Herron, said. “This is a one-stop shop.”

Wiley said the “one-stop-shop” will offer more than fresh food services offered at the new market that will benefit the community such as the updated pharmacy and online services like curbside pick-up and delivery.

“This [new] store is extremely important to the community, but it’s also important to H-E-B,” Wiley said. “We know it’s been long overdue and were so happy to be here.”