H-E-B plans to tear down its oldest continuously operating store to make way for a 21st century, high-tech supermarket. The nearly 70-year-old store on Nogalitos Street just north of Hwy. 90 was called “the store of tomorrow” when it opened to crowds and fanfare in 1945.
H-E-B spokeswoman Dya Campos said the mid-century grocery store employed all the latest innovations and advantages of the day. But the new supermarket will occupy two levels of retail space, with escalators to carry customers and their shopping carts up and down and to a parking area below.
"Escalators in grocery stores are becoming more prevalent in more urban areas," Campos said. "It’s something that we’ve researched extensively and use in a couple of stores in our Northern Mexico operations. But for the first time, we will bring this concept and this design to Texas and more specifically to San Antonio."
But historians haven’t had a look at the building yet.
"What we do know is that there’s a process," said Sue Ann Pemberton, president of the San Antonio Conservation Society. Pemberton said any building over 50 years old must be reviewed by the city to determine if the building should be protected.
"We know that part of the building retains its 1945 historic integrity," Pemberton said. "We know that the curved storefront is still there and the
marquis marquee is still there. We also know that the building has had modifications since that time period."
Campos said she was not aware of any historical review conversations.
“The new design carries out those dominant architecture features including the tall pylon sign which was originally part of the store in 1945," Campos said.
H-E-B is planning to move forward with its ultra-modern design for a multi-level store with three times the space for merchandise. The company plans to close the old store in May and open the new supermarket by this time next year.