Alton DeGeorge's Commentary

Posted September 12, 2010 (user submitted)

Northwest Mall in Houston, Texas was built in the 1960's between what is now the West Loop (I-610) and the Northwest Freeway (U.S. 290). It, and it's sister property Almeda Mall, were built identically to one another and on opposite sides of the city. (Almeda being of course in SE Houston)

Northwest Mall is basically a long plus sign with short arms. It originally was anchored by J.C. Penney's on the north end and Foley's on the south end. On the J.C. Penney's wing were such retailers as Playhouse Toys(vacant), Ritz Camera(vacant), Visible Changes(still there), B. Dalton's Books(now a urban clothier), F.W. Woolworth's(closed), Lane Bryant(gutted for Old Navy also now closed), Lerner's(now urban clothier), Leopold Price & Rolle(now Foot Action), Spencer's(Now Champs), and Radio Shack(vacant). In the Foley's Wing there was Margo's(vacant), Beall's Dept. Store(mixed use), Gold Mine (later Tilt) Arcade(closed), Gordon's Jewelers(closed), Sweeney's Jewelers(indy jeweler called Mission), Claire's(still there), 5-7-9(vacant although sign is still up), Hasting's Records(vacant), Susie's, Naturalizer Shoes(closed), Thom McCann Shoes(now Waldenbooks), and a greeting card store. (can't remember the original occupant, but Hallmark eventually took it over.) The center court was decorated with a typical fountain that was directly in front of the Palais Royal, which sits directly across from the Food court. Palais Royal is the only "anchor" that still exists today. The Food Court originally consisted of an Orange Julius(gone), Chick-Fil-A(still there), El Chico(now Foot Locker, Piccadilly Cafeteria(closed,vacant), a corn dog place(closed), a chinese restaurant(there, but not the same)and 31 Flavors/Baskin Robbins Ice Cream(closed). The mall also had a stand alone theater called the Northwest 4, located on the NE corner of the mall's parking lot. There is a strip center on the SE corner of the lot, which to this day houses "Demeris Barbecue", one of the oldest BBQ joints around Houston. This strip once had a Sound Warehouse, as well as Smoke Toys. Sound Warehouse was closed and became Soundwaves, which only used half of the space originally occupied by Sound Warehouse. It too has closed leaving the space empty again for the last 6 years.

Back to the mall itself, NW Mall began to fade into the obvilion it now is in during the mid 90's. NW 4 closed its doors sometime in the late 80's and sat vacant until 94 or so. The theater was then converted into a country and western bar named "The Longhorn Saloon". This lasted until about 3 years ago, when Longhorn closed down and now the theater is home to "El Chapparrel", same idea as Longhorn, with a Tejano crowd. Beall's Dept. Store was, I believe, the first to close its doors. The space became various urban clothiers in the mall, and the exterior entrance to Beall's became Cici's Pizza and a Comp U.S.A. Both of those are now closed as well, Cici's is empty, Comp U.S.A. is now a nursing school. Woolworth's was the next to fold up shop. To replace it, the mall entrance was converted to a "theater" for independent films, and the outside entrance and back half of the store was converted to S.R.O. sports bar. There is still one relic of Woolworth left in the mall. The original Woolworth restaurant and full service counter is still there. It is currently used for storage, and the original facade in the mall is still intact for the restaurant. After Woolworth and Beall's closed, the mall started to lose itself. J.C. Penney's announced in early 2000 that they would be closing the Northwest Mall location and moving into the newly remodeled Memorial City Mall. This left Foley's as the only anchor in the mall, and Penney's was closed permanently on July 18th, 2000. It has remained vacant for almost a decade. This was the beginning of the end for NW Mall. Stores began to leave in droves. In 2002, One half of one side of the Penney's wing was gutted to make room for Old Navy, resulting in the Penney's Wing being renamed the Old Navy wing. Old Navy lasted until '05 or '06 and now sits empty and dormant as well. Ownership decided to use the Old Navy space for their "Haunted House" the following Halloween. If they wanted that haunted house to be successful it should have been operated in the old Penney's, as it was entirely too small to be worth what was paid for admission. Others must have agreed, because it only lasted 2 seasons. Foley's then changed to Macy's next, and what once was a very shoppable and clean Foley's Dept. Store, became a bargain basement clearance center for Macy's. The store became rather dirty and parts of the 2nd floor were closed. Within a year, the entire 2nd floor was closed. In September 2008 Hurricane Ike came through Houston and with 90+ MPH winds took part of the roof off of the nearly 50 year old building. Macy's closed the doors "temporarily" after this, until the repairs could be made. We are now a year and a half after the hurricane hit, and this is the only Macy's still "temporarily" closed. Signs on the doors direct you to the gleaming new Macy's located, where else, at the beautifully renovated Memorial City Mall. Now, NW Mall has no anchors unless you count the rather small Palais Royal in the middle of the mall. I went to the mall just before Christmas to have a new battery put into my watch, and it is now roughly 20% occuppied. This mall has become so dead, that even mall walkers have slowly trickled away. It is amazing that NW Mall is nearly completely closed, while its sister Almeda just gained Burlington Coat Factory to occupy the long empty J.C. Penney's, and Macy's completely refurbished the old Almeda Foley's with all of the bells and whistles included. Northwest Mall has become the grandaddy of dead malls for this area, with no signs of revitalization whatsoever.

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