A Grander Galleria: More Retail, More Restaurants, More Revenue — And a Residential Highrise Too?

Remember that unusable and really vague tip sent to Swamplot back in January? The one promising that a “major (non-residential) Houston property is about to make a significant change”? And it wasn’t Macy’s? Well, the in-the-know tipster now reports, we can let that cat out of the bag, since the Houston Business Journal and Houston Chronicle already have: The “Houston landmark” the tipster couldn’t tip us off about is the Galleria — which, it was announced yesterday by developer Simon Property Group, will be undergoing extensive renovations and partial demolition to create about 100,000 new sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space.

The plan calls for the Galleria III portion where Saks Fifth Avenue is currently located to be demolished — though the tipster says the Philip Johnson façade will be maintained — to make room for a bumped-out food court (shown in the rendering above). That freed-up Saks space will provide room for 35 new retailers and restaurants. Meanwhile, Saks will be moving into the Macy’s spot on Sage, and that Macy’s will be merging with the other Macy’s on Hidalgo. (Makes sense.) Also, a standalone box will be built in the parking lot for a few tenants who can afford to be more conspicuous to the stop-and-go crowd on Westheimer.


Also mentioned is the possibility of a residential highrise on the corner of W. Alabama and Sage. Writes David Kaplan: “[David Contis, president of Simon Malls] said a 300-unit residential highrise — with an outdoor pool and an indoor connection to the Galleria — is envisioned . . . . He said Simon is still in the planning process, studying infrastructure and construction issues, ‘but we think it can get done.'”

Renderings: Simon Property Group

36 Comment

  • Worst vague real estate tip reveal ever.

    I can’t wait to shop at “Bork”.

  • I would hardly call the travesty being shown in the rendering as “maintaining” Philip Johnson’s facade. It looks like a cheap, unsympathetic remuddle to me. I hope Simon rethinks this design and keeps the Johnson facade preserved. It and the Neiman-Marcus store (although Gensler ruined the N-M interiors a few years back)are the best pieces of architecture at the Galleria.

  • The Galleria is representative of its host city: an inconsistent sprawl of buildings, wrapped in a maze of parking lots and structures, in the middle of a heaving mass of vehicular traffic. It’s a cancerously-grown monument to consumerism; what could be more Houston?

  • Another reason to avoid this area completely. Well, unless we can start teleporting or get the traffic under control. Not sure which is more feasible.

  • I agree with anonymous. I suppose not demolishing the Philip Johnson facade means it will be retained, but Johnson’s design will lose a little something when it’s painted gray and full of glass boxes. Too bad.

  • How can there be a residential high rise at W Alabama and Sage if the old Macy’s is to be re-purposed / renovated as a Saks?
    I’m still having trouble envisioning the concept. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they release more detailed drawings.

  • @Old School:

    Damn, you beat me to it. Bork! Bork! Bork! That store looks glamorous.


    The Houston Galleria is better than the Dallas one in that regard. As mentioned earlier, the Neimans and Saks buildings are pretty cool looking from the street.

    I drive by the Dallas one fairly often and all you can see from the street/(not so) freeway are various parking garages — it feels as though the Dallas Galleria was swallowed up by parking garages.

    I’m glad though that they’re considering doing something about the Galleria III though, it was weird in the first place having to pass through Marshall Fields/Saks to get to it, and after they built the Galleria IV it turned into a withered dead appendage and a total wasteland because of the lack of traffic flow.

  • A comment with a colon, semicolon, and the adverb “cancerously”. I’m betting that one didn’t come right off the cuff.

  • More drawings and the like should be on the way soon. I also can’t wait to shop at Bork.

  • Sweet James: Some of us use our semicolons off the cuff; it’s a fine way to live.

  • By the time the construction is done maybe we’ll have light rail access.

    Now that there’s an Apple Store outside the Galleria I have zero real reasons to access the area.

  • I’m in the Galleria area on daily basis and to me the parking and traffic is not bad at all, as long as you know your way around like the back of your hand. I believe the traffic is much worse if you’re trying to PASS THROUGH the area vs. if you’re actually going in there.

  • @DNAguy…what this post did not say is that the old Macy’s will be torn down, along with much of Galleria III, and then Saks will build a new, purpose-built store on the land.

  • Like putting gold teeth on a nice smile, the Johnson facade appears to be getting a “grill” designed to attract people who replace 90% of what they own every 5 years and who are easily hypnotized into spending trances by something that looks “designer” and is “glam” and has “swag” only to be redone again in 15 years for the same reasons.

  • Let’s all meet up and grab a snack at Chophouse on the way to Bork.

  • I’m thinking about running over there today! Once the first hint of chill hits the atmosphere, I’ll have to start every journey by driving due west away from the Christmas hordes. I am sure I will be cursing this as soon as it starts, but the Galleria III is a tomb. They can’t afford to not do something about it. Save the semicolon!!!

  • Anything, just so long as they don’t destoy the Zone D-Erotica

  • @DNAguy….I thought the same too but I think what’s going to happen is Saks Fifth Avenue and Galleria III will swap spaces. While the old Macy’s at Sage will be torn down and become the residential high rise. So does this mean the mall will actually be losing square footage with the loss of the original Macy’s anchor?

  • I think it’s great that the Galleria reinvents itself. I like going there EXCEPT during the Holidays when for me it becomes a no-fly zone.

  • Please leave the Philip Johnson Facade alone!

  • Please leave the Philip Johnson Faceade alone!

  • The Houston Galleria just keeps getting awesomer and awesomer. I love the way it and Houston grow organically, authentically and out of practicality – at the same time, keeping fresh and new. It keeps that cookie-cutter, convoluted, fake, superficial, tacky-cheap “trying too hard” look in check. When you plan everything out and leave no room for growth or evolution you get a lot boring stuff. Poor Dallas.

  • Why not just bulldoze the Philip Johnson façade if you’re going to mess with it at all?

  • I like the idea of a residential high rise in the Galleria. I’ve always wished they had one.
    That said, I’m looking at the interior rendering and I’m just not seeing how it’s “grander” than the existing mall. The addition makes it bigger, true, but the new interiors look just like the existing interiors. I had hoped for something more impressive.

  • Commonsense. REALLY? every day? and you don’t have a problem with the traffic?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    I’m in Williams Tower. Every day. I wish I was smoking whatever you are…..there is nothing pleasant or easy about traffic around the Galleria…any direction.
    But i like your positive attitude about it!

  • Saks spent 50 million redoing Marshall Fields not 15 years ago! I thought they did a fantasic job! now it will all be ripped a part yet again for Food? I guess in fairness Galleria III was always hidden and never used because you had to go thru Saks, it was a bad design by Hines, still with Foley’s having folded into Macy’s, we now finally lose an anchor altogether in the Galleria, ah well at least with may help flow, we’ll see

  • Poor Dallas???? Have you been in the enlarged Northpark? Or Highland Park Village or Hines better flowing and more up scale styled Dallas Galleria??? I think Dallas is doing just fine

  • Oh yeah and thanks Simon for ruining the Philip Johnson facade, why not just bulldoze it too. At least when I’m in Dallas I can admire the replica at the Dallas Galleria and be reminded of the bastardization of the one here and how truely stupid and lacking in taste Houston developers have become. I was no fan of Simons Galleria 4 either, it looks cheap when compared to Hines Galleria I, II, and III

  • If they can get rid of the dead section of the mall isolated by Saks and replace it with something that will be highly used like the rest, the project will have been worth it.

  • I must know the secret enterence into the galleria because I never have trouble either.

  • There have been so many changes at The Galleria over the years, and although I think this is a step in the right direction alteration of Phillip Johnson’s Marshall Field’s facade is completely off the mark. It is a landmark, elegant design that should be preserved, but given Houston’s history I doubt it will be saved.

  • In the few comments I’ve seen that mention the residential high-rise, its always assumed that it will be on the same contiguous block as the Galleria. Is it possible that it might be across the street and connect by a “skybridge”?

  • The highrise will be where Macy’s is currently. We’ll see if it actually get built, personally I think it’s a great idea. * only if it’s a great design and from what I’ve seen from Simon I’m praying they outsource it to Hines

  • Who still misses Sakowitz?

  • If the Johnson façade comes down, some clever certain contract requires the property owner to pay a huge amount to some part of Johnson’s estate. This is the same reason Gensler isn’t allowed to close te blinds in their Pennzoil Place office. That’s starchitect clout.

    Also, the original source says there is basically no chance of that residential tower actually happening.

  • Who cares????? It’s a f@&$!?g mall!!!!