HUNTSVILLE — A sweeping plan to convert a residential block on a popular city corridor into a commercial car wash passed the City Council on Tuesday by a 6-3 vote.
The stamp of approval marks a major pivot for a stretch of 11th Street in Huntsville, which has remained predominantly residential despite neighboring commercial development along the popular roadway. The estimated $5.9 million project is the first commercial development to receive full approval on the northern side of the roadway after years of attempts to convert the area into a commercial zone with easy access from Interstate 45.
A rezoning proposal, which was presented at a public hearing during the same meeting, will convert the popular ‘Cowboy Hat House’ and another home on Oak Drive into a dual-business shopping center.
“With the development that is already proposed, we are going to lose 10-plus houses in that neighborhood,” said Steve Covington, a resident near the proposed developments. “It’s tough to see a neighborhood slowly die. Development is continuing to encroach on our neighborhoods and we as a city need to start protecting our neighborhoods.”
In subsequent action, council members also voted 6-3 on a future land-use map change that marks the area in question along 11th Street as best suited for commercial development.
Some clearing of the site, including demolition work and early infrastructure preparation, likely will begin in the coming months for the car wash development. Ronnie Corbin, the CEO of Clean Carwash out of Plano, said that the development will remove three rental houses and provide street access from an expanded Pear Drive and 11th Street, pending approval from the Texas Department of Transportation.
He noted that the new development would generate an estimated $35,000 per year in property tax revenue.
ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT
Development documents say that the 1.62-acre property will feature a conveyor car wash tunnel along with 27 self-serving vacuum bays for customers to clean their vehicles on their own.
However, city staff noted that traffic and noise could become issues future issues in the area. Councilmember Daiquri Beebe also stated that council members didn’t receive a full report before the vote. She recommended that the vote be tabled, but was overruled.
“Changing this portion of 11th Street into commercial would destroy the gateway to Huntsville,” Beebe said. “The city has been unsuccessful at removing an abandoned gas station on Interstate 45, but yet we are wanting to now remove residential properties just down the road. The people who are here in support of this development will be making money on this and don’t live in the city of Huntsville and the neighborhood is against it.”
Corbin told the City Council that he plans to hire eight to 10 full-time employees for his full-service car wash, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Beebe, Dee Howard and Blake Irving were the lone council members to vote against the development proposal.
The final reading on an ordinance to rezone the Cowboy Hat House property is expected to be presented at a council meeting next month.