Highland Village Secret Underground: Does Houston’s New Apple Store Have a Basement?

Basements are relatively rare in low-lying Houston. But a Swamplot reader who’s been following the progress of construction at the first not-in-a-mall Apple store ever to be built in this city thinks Apple dug deep into its curtained Highland Village Shopping Center site:

Apple not only tore down the existing building they dug down far more than was necessary. . . . I saw big excavators, much larger than what would be expected and I saw an excavation that was far deeper than needed for a typical strip center foundation. If there was anything below grade that needed removal such tasks would have been done during the previous construction. . . . [The excavators] were at full extension which would suggest a foundation 15’ below grade. Sounds like a basement to me. The old saw about you couldn’t have basements in Houston is certainly not true. Many buildings downtown and in the medical center have multilevel basements.

So . . . what might Apple be hiding underground?


I expect that the “back of the store” activities may be in the basement. Since the 5th Avenue store is entirely underground this shouldn’t be a surprise. . . . perhaps this explains the slow progress as little work can be done until the building is weathered in. . . . If you look at existing Apple stores having a basement is common. Why wouldn’t one expect one here especially since this one is so small?

The new store at 4012 Westheimer is expected to be the first glass-roofed Apple Store to have entrances at both the front and the back — in all-glass walls. Store watcher Tracy Evans had guessed that the store’s “backstage” area would be concealed in a side portion of the structure designed to look like as if it were a portion of the adjacent Sprinkles Cupcakes store, visible on the left of this construction photo:

But our basement theorist thinks different:

The windows that were filled in above Sprinkles may not indicate that the space is held by Apple. Who wouldn’t be surprised if Apple paid a merchant to remove windows so that there would not be spectators during construction nor gawkers once in operation?

Photos: Swamplot inbox (site excavation); Jeff Peoples (steel frame). Sketch: Jeffrey Djayasaputra

11 Comment

  • The basement in the Apple store? That is easy. That is where they will install all of the mind control equipment for the Houston area.

  • In the real estate industry, we call basements in Houston “underground swimming pools”.

  • I expect to find Pee Wee’s bike.

  • @ John C.- You beat me to it!

  • Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Apple will indeed have space above Sprinkles. The store was almost ready to go back in November, but the reason the construction has taken so long is because they were unhappy with the glass on the store so they decided to replace it all. The new glass finally arrived a week or two ago and they’ve been installing it – I hear they’re shooting for opening in three weeks or so (assuming no more delays).

  • Sounds like space for mechanical equipment. We are doing the same for a building this size right now. Is the possible basement the same size as the footprint?…

  • It’s for testing a revolutionary new device, the iSump. According to rumors from people familiar with the matter, the iSump is ‘amazing’, ‘astounding’, ‘amazing’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’. And the real topper: ‘it just works’.

  • Android FTW

  • +1 for Brian :D LMAO

  • Gulfgate Mall has (or had) an entire network basement. I attended some crazy parties beneath Walden Books back in the day.