HIGHLAND MALL: AUSTIN, TX
Mike Massey's Commentary
Posted May 3, 2011 (user submitted January 18, 2011)
Highland Mall is about to go under. This is a large two-level mall near downtown Austin, built in 1971. It was Austin's first major indoor shopping mall, and was very popular and full through the mid-90's.
Penny's went out first, and has been closed for years now, Dillards closed their big store a few years back and wants to close their smaller store, and Macy's (formerly Foley's) announced it's closing it's store in the next two months. That's all the anchors.
The mall has 180 stores, and only around 70 are still open, and after the Macy's and Dillard's close they expect the small stores to close pretty quickly.
It's sad, when I moved here in the mid-90's this was still a thriving place, and I was in there a lot. But in the late 90's Lakeline Mall opened to the northwesat, and since then, Austin got the very upscale Domain shopping center to the north, and very near Highland Mall the old Austin airport has been converted into a "new style" outdoor mall.
Also much of the city is growing out to the suburbs, and the area around the mall has been declining and crime has been on the rise somewhat. Lastly, there was a racial issue at the mall a few years back. Google "The Texas Relays at Highland Mall" for info on that subject. This scared more shoppers away.
After hearing about the Macy's closing on the news, I took the kids to Highland this past Sunday to walk through it one more time, and there were actually a lot of people there. It didn't feel unsafe at all, it still has lots of national chain stores, and it's still a nice big mall with some nice details, lots of light, and a good food court. All the escalators were working, all three fountains were on. But again, there were a lot of closed stores too. Really sad to see such a big mall failing.
The majority of the mall still looks pretty nice, if somewhat dated in parts. There is a lot of chrome and white round white lightbulb decorations....kind 1980's style, which I think was the last time the mall was updated.
The JCPenny's looks terrible outside though. They really let it go, the exterior walls are filthy and need to be pressure-washed badly. The big Dillards that's closed is somewhat spooky. The glass doors are not papered over, and you can look inside the closed store from the mall area. Lots of tables and counters still in there....and it was a HUGE store, and it's all dark in there now.
Anyway, I wanted to walk the mall one last time. I don't get down there much, we live in the northern suburbs now, and I wanted to see it again.
They are saying if they can't find a use for it, it'll most likely be torn down in a few years. Was talking to my Dad about it, and in the 80's when he used to come to Austin for work, it was THE nice mall in town.
Time marches on!
Posted May 3, 2011 (user submitted February 23, 2009)
I visited Highland Mall this past weekend for the first time in about 6 months. I would estimate that about 40% of the mall is vacant, and it's falling fast. In the two remaining anchor stores (Dillard's and Macy's), large sections of the stores were walled off! In Dillard's they've done away with two whole floors of merchandise, and Macy's had about 1/3 of an upper floor walled off.
Stores that have fled include Banana Republic, Jessica McClintock, the Body Shop, Aveeda, Lane Bryant, Guess, JC Penney, Crabtree & Evelyn, The Disney Store, Barnes & Noble, Ann Taylor, The Sleep Number Store, Limited Too, Wilson's Leather, and more I can't remember. It's a shocking state of affairs!