one-stop shopping in Dripping Springs
New H-E-B at heart of 56-acre district expected to give Hill Country residents respite from long treks for food
DRIPPING SPRINGS — H.E. Butt Grocery Co. opened its first location in Dripping Springs Friday morning, attracting dozens of curious residents who wanted to check out the long-anticipated store.
“This is the biggest thing that’s happened to Dripping Springs,” said 11year-old Nicole Cross, who along with two friends talked their parents into driving them to the grand opening. They were first in line when the doors opened at 6 a.m.
“I don’t even get up this early to go to work,” said Lisa Woodland, a Driftwood resident who accompanied her daughter, Claire . “And I teach school.”
The 68,000-square-foot store was a welcome sight for many Dripping Springs residents. Although there is a smaller grocery store in town, many people still regularly drive into Austin or Bee Cave for groceries.
“We’ve been waiting on this a long time,” said Sherrie Parks, who lives in the area. “I spend 40 minutes, round trip, just to get to a grocery store. Then I
don’t want to go but every two weeks, so I spend three hours in the store shopping.”
City leaders hailed the store’s arrival and forthcoming tax revenue, expressing optimism that the larger development that is home to the store — and includes a Home Depot — will become a regional shopping hub.
“It’s all anyone wants to talk about these days,” said City Administrator Michelle Fischer.
In addition to bringing in 200 jobs, the store is expected to have a significant impact on the city’s bottom line.
For the first year, Dripping Springs officials say they expect to receive about $115,000 in sales tax revenue from the new store. That compares with the current budget, which assumes the city will collect $750,000 in sales taxes for the fiscal year.
H-E-B spokeswoman Leslie Sweet said company officials got an unexpectedly high number of requests for organic offerings — and the new store’s products were adjusted accordingly. There are also products from local growers, including lettuce and goat cheese, she said.
“We’ve intended to build this store for quite some time, but were just waiting for the right moment for Dripping Springs and then also the right time for H-E-B,” she said.
The store is part of a nearly 56-acre planned-development district, the community’s first, that also includes banks, retail space and a Home Depot. That district has allowed city leaders to have input into the grocery store’s architecture and landscaping.
In addition, H-E-B, Home Depot and the lead developer have paid for several public infrastructure improvements, including one new road, upgrades to another, public wastewater improvements and park improvements.
Through an agreement, the city is reimbursing those costs — about $2.9 million — by returning a portion of the sales tax money, Fischer said.
City leaders say they hope Dripping Springs will now be able to attract shoppers from nearby towns such as Wimberley, Blanco and Johnson City.
“This will actually be a destination point,” Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds said. He said he hopes the development will draw residents from subdivisions along U.S. 290, between Dripping Springs and Austin. “Hopefully, we will be attracting some of these people to shop and spend some time in town.”
Some longtime Dripping Springs residents were a bit saddened by the store’s opening and the growth that it represents, said Olivia Cross, who also brought her daughter to the opening. But for the most part, “everybody’s just ecstatic,” she said.
“Everyday living doesn’t have to be planned anymore,” Cross said.
When’s the last time an 11-year-old wanted to be up at 6 a.m.? From left, Clare Woodland, Emily Hooker and Nicole Cross prepared to rush in as Brenda Johnson opened the doors to Dripping Springs’ new H-E-B early Friday. At left, Olivia Cross was given flowers and a $50 gift card for being one of the store’s first shoppers.