PALMHURST — The new H-E-B supermarket here will have more amenities than most stores, including an expanded bakery and produce section, a wide array of Latino foods and a party center — a section not seen in any other of the chain’s local stores.
H-E-B officials and city leaders officially broke ground on the new store near the corner of Mile 3 Road and State Highway 107 Friday. At 96,000 square feet, the supermarket will be about as large as an H-E-B Plus store, but instead of including the extra house wares, clothing, electronics and other merchandise, the additional space will accommodate more food and other features.
“This store will be quite different than other ones we have in the area,” said Tony Gonzalez, the director of retail operations in the Rio Grande Valley for H-E-B.
H-E-B representatives have been talking to customers in Palmhurst and the surrounding cities for at least a year to figure out how to design the store, Gonzalez said.
The store will have sections specifically for queso fresco, aguas frescas, and guacamole. It also will house a party center — a new concept for H-E-B — that will include piñatas for purchase, Gonzalez said. The supermarket’s “Texas Front Porch” area will offer plants and outdoor furniture for sale.
City leaders boasted that the operation will create 200 more jobs in the area and they already have plans to develop the lot next to the future H-E-B complex.
Palmhurst, with a population of about 2,600, has about 70 stores that employ 1,000 people, said Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez Jr.
The city relies the sales tax revenue as it does not collect property taxes. That lack of property tax is what helped attract H-E-B, he said.
In 2005, a Wal-Mart opened on the northeast corner of Mile 3 and Highway 107 and several smaller businesses opened around it. The location draws shoppers from Palmhurst, as well as nearby cities including Alton, Mission and Palmview.
City Manager Lori Lopez said the city is working toward bringing in another shopping complex next door to the H-E-B location on the south side of Mile 3 Road, with 40 stores.
“We’re hoping within six months, we’ll have some kind of development already,” said City Councilman Robert Salinas.
Salinas said it’s possible the city will offer sales tax rebates, called 380 agreements, to new stores coming in. The city and H-E-B brokered an agreement that gives H-E-B a sales tax rebate for the next 10 years.
Salinas praised the “incentive tool” during his short speech at the groundbreaking.
“Developments like this have put Palmhurst on the map,” he said.
Gail Burkhardt covers Mission, western Hidalgo County, Starr County and general assignments for The Monitor . She can be reached at email@example.com, (956) 683-4462 or on Twitter, @GailBurkhardt.