SAN ANTONIO -

Several former HEB grocery stores sit empty with newer, nicer locations just around the corner -- and that is raising some questions about their future use.

The former HEBs on Loop 1604 at Bandera and on Highways 281 and 46 in Bulverde are both vacant.

The KSAT 12 Defenders dug into county records and found one reason why it might be a challenge for other businesses to occupy the empty stores: deed restrictions.

Some restrictions prohibit tenants from moving into certain former HEB locations if the new store is in the business of "groceries, meats, produce, frozen foods, dairy products, bakery products, wine, malt, alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages, or prescription pharmaceuticals."

In some cases, those restrictions are meant to be in place for decades.

At Huebner and Babcock, a former HEB used to be vacant but is now being turned into a LA Fitness. A newer HEB draws customers just across the street.

One business owner in the shopping center where the old store use to be say he’s taken a hit.

“With HEB pulling out, we lost immediately 4 percent in sales,” said John Gonzalez, who works at Thrifty Liquor next to the former HEB. “Probably six businesses went out (of the shopping center) within probably the first year that HEB left here."

HEB says that not all of its former locations are empty eyesores, pointing specifically to the old HEB on South Presa that is now a senior center.

"I think it’s a wonderful place to be! I recommend it to all seniors,” says Rachel Hernandez, who visits the center.

HEB tells KSAT 12 that it is extremely rare for another grocer to be interested in one its former stores and any kind of restrictions can be changed.

A statement from Dya C. Campos, the director of public affairs for HEB said, "H-E-B actively engages with our neighbors when leasing and selling previous stores locations. Neighborhood Associations feel comfortable letting us know what they would like to see when we are marketing our property and more specifically, the businesses they do not want to see in their neighborhood.

The recent openings of new H-E-B stores has created hundreds of new jobs in San Antonio, our real estate team works hard to recruit retailers and other popular businesses into vacant properties."

As for the vacant store fronts, the Campos gave these updates:

  • Huenber/Babcock – H-E-B sold to LA Fitness, this property is not owned by H-E-B
  • 1604/Bandera – Interest in the purchase of this location has been strong. We are in negotiations with several different retailers.
  • Huebner/NW Military - Most of the interest we have received on this property have been for office space.
  • Bulverde –Due to the timing of upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plant, we were unable to actively market this property until recently. We are optimistic at the prospects of filling this location.
  • South Presa – This location was sold several years ago.

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.