A couple of Houston architects have a proposal for the northern portion of the soon-to-be-shuttered Greenspoint Mall at the northeast intersection of Beltway 8 and I-45: Turning it into a driving range surrounded by 3 golf holes. Why such an abbreviated course? Well, there’s only so much land available. But Paul Kweton and Hidekazu Takahashi of Studio Paulbaut consider the paring down an attractive update to convention that could help to make the sport more accessible:
“It takes up to 5 hours to play a decent round of golf,” they write. Their Greenspoint green would offer a quicker golfing proposition: A round of golf in 60 minutes.
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COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: WHAT IT TOOK TO BRING THE MACY’S AT THE GREENSPOINT MALL BACK TO LIFE “I drive by Greenspoint Mall daily and it’s quite unusual to see the ‘beehive of activity‘ at the former Macy’s from it’s recent use as a shelter. I haven’t seen that many cars outside the building since the early ’80s! Ironically, the ‘For Lease’ sign still hangs prominently on the west wall.” [Native Houstonian, commenting on Sheltered in the Greenspoint Mall Macy’s; What the EPA Hasn’t Tested; Vacating the 100-Year Floodplain] Photo: Judahdavis
THE RIDE TO THE BULLET TRAIN AT NORTHWEST MALL One piece of the agreement announced by Mayor Turner this morning with Texas Central Partners, the company behind a planned bullet train between here and Dallas: a promise that the city and the company will work together on transit options to and from the train’s Houston station. “In the memorandum,” Dug Begley reports, “Texas Central notes the likely end of their Houston-to-Dallas line will be south of U.S. 290, west of Loop 610 and north of Interstate 10. The exact site has been long suspected as the current location of Northwest Mall.” All but a handful of stores inside the mall shut down earlier this year. [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall: Levcor
The broker representing the new and prospective owners of the shuttered Macy’s and Dillard’s buildings at Greenspoint Mall gives just a hint of the rancor between the groups who now appear to be negotiating the mall’s future: Maddox Properties’ Jim Maddox tells Bisnow’s Kyle Hagerty that any supposed redevelopment plans hinted at by the investment group led by Chinese developer Feng Gao that now has the mall itself under contract are “full of sh*t.” [Hagerty’s punctuation.] Maddox says he hung up the phone on area Chamber of Commerce prez and mall redevelopment partner Reggie Gray after Gray complained to him that plans in place by the owners of the retired department store buildings would ruin redevelopment plans for the area.
About those plans: Spring Real Estate Investment’s Zulfiqar Karedia, Hagerty reports, is seeking to develop a truck stop on a 4-acre portion of its newly purchased Macy’s property fronting I-45. Maddox says a restaurant distribution business is slated to take over the Dillard’s property in the mall’s southwest corner — after a sale he brokered last week closes in September.
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Full of It
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: FROM THE SOIL OF A DEAD MALL, LET A BUNCH OF APARTMENT TOWERS BLOOM “Malls that are about to die need to utilize their best asset and that is having large AC filled connector hallways that can hold pretty much any small business such as coffee shops/barber shops/pet supplies/retail obviously. Using the large department store areas like Macy’s/Sears/Dillards/Palais Royal, investors could make 6-8 story apartment/condo towers. Plenty of parking lot space around in case the apartment towers needs to be built wider than what the old department stores have to offer in space. The location at I-45 & North Beltway is great and parking lots will have exits to both feeders. Residents would be able to enjoy not just living in a nice condo lifestyle but also have AC filled hallways with all kinds of small businesses, I could see baby boomers loving this since many of them are early morning mall walkers anyway. It would be a long process, especially getting 4 different towers completed; but since they are all at different corners of the mall, residents will not have the construction headaches that you might assume would come along with it. I think its a better idea than just tearing old malls down.” [mas, commenting on The End of the Greenspoint Mall Is Upon Us] Photo of Greenspoint Mall: Colliers International
THE END OF THE GREENSPOINT MALL IS UPON US Greenspoint Mall may close its doors for good in as little as 60 days, a source tells Click2Houston reporter Sophia Beausoleil — after news broke late Friday that the hobbled 42-year-old shopping center at I-45 North and Beltway 8 is under contract for purchase by an investment group headed by Chinese investor Gao Feng. Global Plaza Union says it is still considering several different redevelopment concepts for its newly acquired property. Not included in the purchase, but expected to be added to it for any transformation to take place: the 3 independently owned anchor store sites within the property. The Sears store at the southeast corner of the property closed 7 years ago; the Macy’s, in the northwest corner, shut down earlier this year; the Dillard’s in the southwest corner, closest to the freeway interchange, is one of only 2 anchors still operating in the mall. (The other is a Palais Royal.) [Click2Houston; Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo: Colliers International
SOUTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST HOUSTON SEARS STORES GOING SOUTH Included in the latest round of Sears store closings: the mall-anchor locations at the Baybrook Mall (off the Gulf Fwy. at Bay Area Blvd.) and the Westwood Mall (off the Southwest Fwy. at Bissonnet). Liquidation sales are scheduled to begin by the end of this month; the stores will shut down completely by the middle of September. This will bring the the number of Sears Holdings stores scheduled to close this year to 265. [USA Today; Business Insider] Aerial view of Sears at the Baybrook Mall: CBRE
A BUNCH OF NORTHWEST MALL’S TENANTS MAY SHUT DOWN THIS MONTH Swamplot hasn’t heard back from the management office of borderline zombie shopping center Northwest Mall yet to confirm plans for the structure — but some of the mall’s tenants have been advertising their own impending closure, including alcoholic cake shop Bundt Cake-a-holic (which is currently trying to crowdfund its own relocation). Rumors on Reddit and The Leader suggest that a few shops like Thompson’s Antique Center of Texas and the in-mall College of Healthcare Professions will stay open, but that most of the tenants are getting booted for remodeling by March 31st. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of Northwest Mall: Moni
COMMENT OF THE DAY: RISE OF THE MEMORIAL CITY MONSTER “Does any else remember the old Memorial City Hospital that used to sit on the east-bound Katy Freeway feeder (west of Gessner)? It was once just a small 3 stories tall. Then they built 3 more floors on top of those, making it 6. Then it kept growing/morphing until it turned into the crazy space alien tower that it is today.
Memorial City Mall has similarly morphed and changed continuously over the past 3 decades, constantly changing its footprint, accessibility, and façade. I would love to see some sort of time lapse of all the changes. With this expansion across I-10, I’m envisioning an eventual network of skywalks spanning the freeway to connect it all, like a great big vampire squid.” [Superdave, commenting on Memorial City Prepares To Cross the Katy] Illustration: Lulu
A vote of Rosenberg’s City Council this Tuesday made it official: Paragon Outlet Partners will be building a sprawling outlet mall called the Paragon Outlets Houston on the southeast side of the Southwest Fwy. at Reading Rd. in the eastern reaches of Rosenberg, just southwest of the Brazos Town Center and Brazos Town Crossing shopping centers and FM 762, and 10 miles down I-69 from Sugar Land. Construction of the 400,000-sq.-ft. first phase is expected to begin this summer and finish in November of next year.
Map: Paragon Outlet Partners
Factory Direct to You
FOOD TRUCK GOING FOOD COURT Next venue for the 2-truck Chinese-food-about-town hotspot known as the Rice Box? A non-mobile location in the food court at 5 E. Greenway Plaza, Alison Cook reports: “[Owner John] Peterson has signed on Jim Herd’s Collaborative Projects to design a Rice Box Greenway prototype that will set it apart from its more conventional neighbors. Under a crimson sea of 80 Chinese lanterns (one of the visual totems on the original Rice Box truck), informal barstool seating will range across a counter overlooking oscillating video panels and a custom tea bar. The menu will appear on its own video screen. Red roof tiles from China have been ordered to construct an awning over the counter. ‘It’s one step closer to the White Dragon Noodle Bar,‘ jokes Peterson, referring to the Blade Runner food stand that was his visual inspiration for the Rice Box truck. (All he and Herd need to do is rig some kind of periodic rain showers.)” [Food Chronicles] Photo: The Rice Box
Construction crews have begun digging into the surface parking lot along Westheimer in front of the Galleria for the construction of the fancy new pad site building mall owner Simon Properties is referring to as the “luxury jewel box.” Foundation work for the structure, which will sit in front of the Cheesecake Factory and house as many as 3 high-end retailers (Cartier and Chanel are portrayed in renderings of the structure from early last year), will be a little tricky — because underneath the surface parking lot lies the Galleria’s multi-story Blue Garage.
A Swamplot reader sends in the above photo showing the scene as it appeared yesterday; here’s the same view with a bit more of a zoom-out:
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If the giant 25-story-tall question mark built into the profile of the Hotel Alessandra — the Modern tower pictured above, planned for a spot directly behind the XXI Forever store along Fannin — spurred any of you to wonder when or whether construction of the promised residential expansion of GreenStreet (formerly Houston Pavilions) might begin, here’s an answer: Next Monday, MLK Day, workers will begin blocking access to the urban mall’s center court at 1201 Fannin St. and other areas to begin demolition work. Their target: The much shorter structure that once housed the Houston Pavilions’ Yao’s restaurant, owned by family members of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, which stands in the way.
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Clearing Yao’s Away
As of December 1, Galleria tenants and workers who park in the Blue Garage fronting Westheimer (labeled “Construction Zone” in the above site plan) will have to find another place to stash their rides. Explains an official “communiqué from the management office” of Unilev, operators of Galleria Tower II: “This relocation is to due to impending construction by Simon Properties of a free-standing retail structure that will be erected on the surface lot directly above the Blue Garage.” That structure will be going on the 14,000-sq.-ft. pad site in front of the portals to the Cheesecake Factory; it’ll be known colloquially as the “luxury jewel box.” Simon Properties intends the building to house up to 3 high-end retailers.
A user going by the name of JJ18 posted these renderings of the proposed structure to HAIF back in March:
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BIGGER GALLERIA APPLE STORE FOR BIGGER IPHONES OPENS THIS WEEKEND Only a few weeks after beginning sales of a pair of embiggened iPhones, Apple is ready to unveil its latest enlargement: the newly expanded Galleria Apple Store. That’s it hiding on the second level in the photo at left, behind the 60-ft.-long black wall. A grand reopening is scheduled for this Saturday. The store moved to a temporary location over the summer to allow for the widening, described in detail here. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: David Ruiz