A bit of a history lesson: prior to the year 1990, H-E-B stores did not exist at all (maybe a few tiny stores in the suburbs, called H-E-B Pantry) in the Houston market, which by extension included the College Station market. Instead, there was AppleTree (Safeway until the company had to divest the division), Randall's (at the time, a respected upscale-leaning independent), and Kroger. Those were the big ones.
Around 1992, H-E-B decided to launch a plan that would put it in the competitive Houston market by operating small, low-end stores lacking expensive-to-operate-but-otherwise-standard departments like bakeries, delis, and pharmacies. H-E-B essentially carpet-bombed the Houston market with stores like this, beating Food Lion (a similar operation) to the punch by several months (and Food Lion caught a lot of flack in Dallas for lacking pharmacies). The march to conquer Houston included a few stores in Bryan-College Station, two in Bryan, and one in College Station where DSW is now.
By 2000, H-E-B was ready to build full-line stores, and in less than a decade was second place just after Kroger, which had been established for decades. Absolutely brilliant. I had been in a "full-line" H-E-B before, a location in Waco, Texas at the corner of Dutton and Valley Mills, and in 2002, H-E-B closed its Pantry store and built their first full-line College Station-Bryan store on the corner of Texas Avenue and Holleman, but facing more toward the former, in March or April 2002 (I believe it was April). This blew everything in town out of the water at the time. Not only was it far bigger than the one in Waco (which closed down a few years ago) and had all of its departments (including a tortilleria), but also had a bakery (with bolillos), a pharmacy, a florist, a fish market, and more. The Pantry had a pretty good quality and selection for a store of its size, but the real H-E-B offered all that, and more, as it was at least twice as big. It even made the Southwest Parkway Kroger look small and dated (which admittedly it kind of was).
Up until 2015, the store's décor and layout remained largely the same, with some changes have gone on within H-E-B in the past decade. Originally, they had a video game section with a display in the middle that had TVs playing the Super Smash Bros. Melee trailer (hey, it was early 2002), and you could buy a portable PSOne there. This was gutted for more of the "general merchandise" selection they have today. Unfortunately, it was one of the earlier departments scrapped when it became clear what customer's buying habits were (Yelp likewise reports the brief time they carried Caribbean imported foods, though said reviewer is notoriously untrustworthy when it comes to restaurant reviews).
There's also a sushi-making kiosk and a gourmet food sample place that was added later. In the front, there were what appeared to be large sheds (they were later removed to accommodate more garden supplies), and there was also a Washington Mutual bank inside (which may or not have been the first bank there). Fortunately, H-E-B converted it to an IBC bank (removed circa 2012) before Washington Mutual collapsed completely.
All in all, the store (which, by the way, boasts warehouse-style ceilings, unlike the old Pantry) became wildly successful today. Despite the college students which tends to have the store carry some more downscale items, it let the store have a 24 hour/7 days a week schedule during the school year, so anyone can go in for cat litter, gummy bears, and soy milk at 1 am, something even Houston suburbanites can't do (but they have Auntie Anne's and a Greek restaurant, so...)
The parking is usually full and the store is popular, but due to the tight and hilly footprint the store sits on, it can't expand, which is a shame. It was curiously bumped to the bottom of remodeling lists, leaving it with all 2002 décor intact, and now already is starting to look small, dated, and downscale compared to other H-E-B stores I've seen (though again, it's hard to criticize your store when there are still dozens of stores floating around without even pharmacies). The presence of the store managed to clean up the entire block. The land value of the nearby homes on Park Place shot up (and even sparked a mild building boom). This was a part of a big Southgate revival, though in some cases, ended up demolishing decent homes that just needed a little love for dense, student-living oriented townhomes.
In 2015, the store began to remodel, tearing off the giant lettering on the sides of the colored walls (some glimpses can be caught of that), and is currently undergoing significant changes, namely moving the florist to the other side of the store near the pharmacy, making the produce area less of a maze, and a few other things. Obviously, it won't any physical expansions.
Enjoy these few pictures I took at H-E-B in June 2010, taken with my crappy old cellphone camera.
I have two directories from the store. The more colorful one is from the 2002 opening. See if you can see the differences...the later one is from 2005. Download them both here.
There's more stories to tell, even. The space before the H-E-B included the El Chico restaurant on the corner (which was a number of things before that, including the original Allen Honda location (newspaper clipping, MyBCS confirms it), which later became Bud Ward Volkswagen (Allen Honda must have moved to Southwest Parkway by that point, more on that later), "Charlie's Under the Water Tower" (a bar), and then El Chico (which may or may not have been a rebuild). It was torn down in 2007 for a Chase bank, which may or may have not been related to the Texas Avenue widening.
From John Ellisor comes this picture of Bud Ward Volkswagen, one of the car dealerships there at some point. I think I see the Holiday Inn in the background.
The old water tower that was behind it was dismantled around 2002-2003 for an H-E-B gas station and car wash, and connected to what was the El Chico was a shabby-looking maroon building (with wooden shingles if I remember right) with Early Bird Cleaners and Aggieland Printing. This, and its adjacent parking lot (a holdover from the car dealership?) can be seen below.
Both moved to a yellow building in the parking lot, though Early Bird Cleaners has since departed.