Grocers will still be prohibited from selling alcohol near public and private schools, but now proximity to hospitals and churches will no longer be an impediment to building new grocery stores.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker says there's already an independent grocery store called Pyburn's ready to build in the Third Ward.
"Every grocery store out there raises the issue of we need to be able to sell beer and wine to meet out minimum definition and this change in ordinance facilitates that. But we put plenty of safeguards in to say that this is designed to allow a true grocery store to come in and, as a small part of their bottom line, sell beer and wine."
Parker says food deserts are an impediment to neighborhood revitalization.
"This is about building stronger communities and neighborhoods because if we can get the grocery store in, that incents more developers to come in and build better housing stock and so there's a positive benefit there. But it also impacts the long-term health of our citizens."
Under the terms of the ordinance, only grocery stores of 10,000 square feet or more will be allowed to sell alcohol.
Convenience stores and gas stations will still be restricted.