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Westchase Mall and Northoaks mall


Reefmonkey

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I was looking at TexasVines' post about the failure of Town and Country mall, and found this comment interesting:

at that same time there was also Westchase Mall that probably few people remember and probably fewer people today even know was a mall.......it was on Westheimer between Walnut Bend and Wilcrest and was an actual mall at one time with indoor walkways and was probably one of the few malls that was able to successfully convert to the big box format without much change.......basically they just closed up most of the mall area and allowed some of the bigger retailers to build back as far as they needed to.....so I spent a lot of time there at God Fathers Pizza, Arcade that I can't remember (want to say Aladdin's Castle but I don't think that was it it had a yellow sign and it moved from the back of the mall to the front and I want to say it had a name like "The ***?"

I actually work at the corner of Walnut Bend and Westheimer, and before they revamped the Target there, I thought the shopping center there reminded me of the NorthOaks "Mall" on FM 1960 and Steubner Airline that I used to go to as a little kid through high school.

NorthOaks was exactly how TexasVines describes Westchase Mall - anchored by a Target, and you could enter the interior walkway either through target or through a front door. It had an arcade and a 6 screen movie theater, that by the time I graduated in 1994 had long been converted into a dollar theatre. I think now the interior walkways have been closed off.

I imagine Westchase and Northoaks were built by the same developer.

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I was looking at TexasVines' post about the failure of Town and Country mall, and found this comment interesting:

I actually work at the corner of Walnut Bend and Westheimer, and before they revamped the Target there, I thought the shopping center there reminded me of the NorthOaks "Mall" on FM 1960 and Steubner Airline that I used to go to as a little kid through high school.

NorthOaks was exactly how TexasVines describes Westchase Mall - anchored by a Target, and you could enter the interior walkway either through target or through a front door. It had an arcade and a 6 screen movie theater, that by the time I graduated in 1994 had long been converted into a dollar theatre. I think now the interior walkways have been closed off.

I imagine Westchase and Northoaks were built by the same developer.

I used to visit North Oaks Mall too in the 80s for the movie theatre. The only stores I remember are the Target and a dollar store...nothing else. Not a typical "mall" we would all think of...no stores really, just an enclosed movie theatre in the middle of a typical shoping strip. I always wondered why it had the word "mall" in the name. I haven't been to that shopping center since I was a kid.

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After Texasvines made that post I tried to find evidence of Westchase mall but have not been able to. I looked at historical aerial photos and asked people who lived in the area at the time to no avail.

From what I can see in old aerial photos all the buildings on Westheimer between Walnut Bend and Wilcrest have been there since at least 1981 in their current configuration. In the photos from 1973 it's an empty field.

I guess he's talking about the current Target shopping center. It looks almost identical in 1981 aerial photos to today. It looks like it was a typical strip center... parking lot in front, semi trailers in back at loading docks.

Does anyone have anymore information on Westchase mall?

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After Texasvines made that post I tried to find evidence of Westchase mall but have not been able to. I looked at historical aerial photos and asked people who lived in the area at the time to no avail.

From what I can see in old aerial photos all the buildings on Westheimer between Walnut Bend and Wilcrest have been there since at least 1981 in their current configuration. In the photos from 1973 it's an empty field.

I guess he's talking about the current Target shopping center. It looks almost identical in 1981 aerial photos to today. It looks like it was a typical strip center... parking lot in front, semi trailers in back at loading docks.

Does anyone have anymore information on Westchase mall?

Yes, it is the current Target shopping center. Since it sounds like it was almost exactly like the Northoaks "mall" (though didn't have the movie theatre), it really wouldn't look any different from any other strip shopping center in an aerial view when it was in its "mall" configuration, and there was no need to change the external structure to convert it from the "mall" to a conventional strip center. Like Cosmic8 says, it's really not what one would think of as a typical mall. For the one in Northoaks, the "mall" part was really more like an enclosed foyer one could walk into, with entrances to the theater, target, and an arcade. Looking at the Walnut Bend shopping center now and remembering the Northoaks "Mall", I have no problem believing TexasVine's description of Westchase Mall as it was is accurate.

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Does anyone have anymore information on Westchase mall?

I don't remember much, but it retained the same outer walls that I remember, and Target used to have an entrance opening on the west side into that mall. It was pretty dark with brown tiles and indoor planters. Pretty typical 80's look.

It was small, not much of a mall to begin with.

Mind you I was probably 8 when it was still around.

The "mall" part was really more like an enclosed foyer one could walk into, with entrances to the theater, target, and an arcade.

That's it.

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Yes Westchase Center was Westchase Mall until the oil bust of the late 80's. The malls configurations was as follows I am almost positive of.

Target anchored the east end.

Mall entrance from Target

Mall entrance to the right of Target

There was a mall entrance in the center of the mall. If I am not mistaken Godfather's Pizza was on the hallway from the center entrance to allow easy access to the parking lot.

Randall's, then actually owned by the Onstead family (not Safeway) was the anchor at the other end. A mall entrance to Randall's and then to the left of Randalls.

I only remember 2 shops in the mall, a Hallmark card shot by Target and the arcade plus the Godfather's.

For some reason I want to say there was a Weiner's and possibly a Gap. The Gap moved to the parking lot pad site in the mid-90's and eventually became Old Navy.

The layout was kinda weird because when you exited Target the mall angled at a 45 degree angle. This allowed for stores on both sides of the mall.

If I am not midtaken Weingartens has owned the center since its inception.

If you look at the layout of the current configuration you can actually see some of the remnants of the old mall layout.

http://www.weingarten.com/retail/property/...001_mkt_pkg.pdf

Look at item 2. This is a store with no front to the parking lot. It is about where the old storefront would have been for the mall. Also Shoe Carnival and Petco's configuration look like they would be mall related.

Now that I think about it there might have also been a Walgreen's in the center which moved across the street to a stand alone building. If that is the case then the mall ended in Walgreen's not Randall's possibly.

My dad used to work at Dresser center and could help me remember more. I'll have to ask my family to help my memory.

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As others have said, North Oaks wasn't a mall per se; there was a center court that had some small storefronts, the AMC theatre and an arcade (there was a rear entrance/parking lot to the theatre accessible from Stuebner-Airline/Veterans Memorial). I remember Target, a clothing store of some kind (Weiner's maybe), a Wyatt's Cafeteria and I think another restaurant there.

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Weingarten Realty was famous or is it infamous for their stretching of terms based on the current marketplace. I can remember in the 1970s and into the 1980s that they had several "shopping centers" that they built that had airconditioned hallways that they referred to as "malls".

One was Braeswood Square at the corner of N. Braeswood and Chimney Rock in the Meyerland area. This was referred to as a mall but only had an airconditioned hallway between the Walgreen's and Belden's (originally a Weingarten's). You can still see the remants of the "mall/hallway" by the way shops are set back and the pillars where the glass used to be.

Another was Beltway Center at Ranchester/Bellaire Blvd. The center was originally anchored by Sage Drug (division of big box discounter Sage Department Stores) and Lewis & Coker. Again it was nothing more than an air conditioned hallway, but was referred to as a "mall". Beltway center has certainly changed from what it was in the early 1970's to today.

And I think, someone correct me if I am wrong, that the center at Westheimer/Hillcroft which now house 99 cent only and Office Depot was also one of these air conditioned hallway formats when built. Weingarten also developed this center.

I have to agree that a mall should only be referred to as a mall when it is surrounded by parking. But you know how marketers are.....every one of them think they have mad skills to make money by using the terms of the day.

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Weingarten Realty was famous or is it infamous for their stretching of terms based on the current marketplace. I can remember in the 1970s and into the 1980s that they had several "shopping centers" that they built that had airconditioned hallways that they referred to as "malls".

Another was Beltway Center at Ranchester/Bellaire Blvd. The center was originally anchored by Sage Drug (division of big box discounter Sage Department Stores) and Lewis & Coker. Again it was nothing more than an air conditioned hallway, but was referred to as a "mall". Beltway center has certainly changed from what it was in the early 1970's to today.

I don't live far from this one (used to go to the Panchos that used to be there) and grew up to one nearly identical to this at Little York and I-45. Different stores, but pretty much the same layout - an anchor on one end and an airconditioned, glass-enclosed hallway leading to the rest of the stores.

The "mall" at Little York at I-45 originally was anchored by Grants, a department store in the vein of Woolco. When that folded, it became the Big Texan Bowling Lanes. I believe now that space is a Food Town grocery store. Next to the Grants was a drug store (I don't think it originally was Walgreens as Walgreens didn't come to Houston until around 1975).

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Firebird--

Just a couple of pieces of information to update your post..............

Walgreen's presence in Houston goes way back to the 1930's or 1940's, possibly earlier. There are a number of historic photos of downtown Houston from those time periods showing at least 2 Walgreen's location on Main Street in the CBD. Growing up we shopped at Walgreen's location in Sharpstown Mall and on Weslayan at Bissonett. Plus numerous others.

Grant's dates back years and years also. It was more of a Five and Dime on steroids if I remember correctly. The company was officially the W.T. Grant company. Grants competitors would have been F.W. Woolworth, J.J. Newberry and Kress' if my memory is serving me correctly. I remember going to Grant's downtown with my mom on the Shoppers Special bus. Plus there was a Grants that semi-anchored the original Gulfgate Shopping Center. It later because a Wilson's (after Grants went under) who was then purchased by Service Merchandise. Locationwise in Gulfgate it was right by the bridge that goes over 610. The downtown location I remember was at least 2 story (basement and ground level) and the Gulfgate location was 2 story with the "basement" also being ground level to the parking lot. The upper level connected to the mall. And if I recall there was also a Grants in Meyerland, I just can't remember exactly where it was if there was a location there.

Woolco was a discount big box created by Woolworth. It came into Houston in the 1960's and major competitition was Fedco, Globe and Sage....and somewhat Gibson's if the Woolco was far enough in the burbs/country. Gemco came in from California and honestly I do not remember if Woolco was still in business when Gemco came to Houston.

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I don't live far from this one (used to go to the Panchos that used to be there) and grew up to one nearly identical to this at Little York and I-45. Different stores, but pretty much the same layout - an anchor on one end and an airconditioned, glass-enclosed hallway leading to the rest of the stores.

The "mall" at Little York at I-45 originally was anchored by Grants, a department store in the vein of Woolco. When that folded, it became the Big Texan Bowling Lanes. I believe now that space is a Food Town grocery store. Next to the Grants was a drug store (I don't think it originally was Walgreens as Walgreens didn't come to Houston until around 1975).

Walgreens has been around Houston a LOT longer than that; there was one on Long Point near my grandmother's old house that had been there since at least the 50s. You're thinking of the one in the Randall's center by Aldine, which opened around 1975.

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For some reason I want to say there was a Weiner's and possibly a Gap. The Gap moved to the parking lot pad site in the mid-90's and eventually became Old Navy.

Old Navy was the Rusty Pelican, a seafood restaurant. I am 100% sure about this

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Old Navy was the Rusty Pelican, a seafood restaurant. I am 100% sure about this

That is correct. It was a Rusty Pelican.

The El Palenque used to be a Grandy's and later a Miami Subs. The Taco Cabana used to be a Dos Pesos.

I moved out this way in 1989, so I don't know about anything earlier than that. But the first time I saw this shopping center, I thought it looked just like North Oaks, although it was no longer a mall by that time.

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Walgreens has been around Houston a LOT longer than that; there was one on Long Point near my grandmother's old house that had been there since at least the 50s. You're thinking of the one in the Randall's center by Aldine, which opened around 1975.

Yeah, I guess maybe I was. But that particular store wasn't originally a Walgreens... it was a Sage's Drug Store. It became Walgreens around 1981.

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I lived in Walnut Bend from birth until age 10 and we went to Westchase Mall often. Since I was young and it's been more than 25 years, I don't remember everything that was in there, but many of the descriptions given are correct - a long air conditioned hallway w/ stores on both sides and a few entrances/ sitting areas. What I do remember is a hallway near the front right side of Target that led in to the mall. I do remember it being at an angle too as someone posted. The I remember The Gap being the on the right side of the mall just outside the Target entrance. I don't remember too many other particulars about exact stores, but I know there was a pizza place, a haircut place, my eye doctor (who is still in the area by Whole Foods now), a Hallmark type store, etc... I know there were other places, but these were the ones we went to often and the ones I remember. I'll have to ask my mom next time I talk to her as she would remember more.

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Rusty Pelican was the restaurant

there was a halmark card shop just to the left as you walked west out of Target....the Target mall entrance was at an angle.....I believe there was a toy store (possibly a KB) a womens fashion store...the Pizza was Godfathers with an outside entrance....the game room probably was funway freeway......it started out across the mall from Godfathers inside the mall then moved across the mall next to Godfathers with plans to cut an outside entrance for later hours, but the expense of cutting the wall was too much them game rooms died......the Randals was a Weingartens to start and never had a mall entrance....the Randals was origionally across Westheimer from the mall at the corner of Lakside drive on the west side....It was Two Pesos (not dos pesos) before the big Taco Cabana Two pesos lawsuit

there was also a Bennigans just to the west of Two Pesos ....there was possilby a Gap in the mall and some other stores I can't recall....it was definately 100% what I would call a mall with stores on both sides of the interior ....some of the others were smaller womens stores like shoes for one and the one previously mentioned....I know there was one chain jewlery store if not two....there was some type of cookie store as well I think....hell for all the time I spent there I sure can't recall a lot of the stores, but like I say a lot were geared towards women...I am pretty sure besides the Target entrance there were only two other entrances into the mall....the floor tile was brown and there were planters just set on the tile, but they looked decent and were always well maintained as was the whole mall

one of the stranger aspects is that the mall kind of never "died"....it lost stores and then it was VERY quick after that it moved to the strip center format.....a few of the successful stores moved to the front and cut exterior entrances and one of the big stores to come was Larrys Shoes....the grocery store was actually vacant for a longer time until Randals opened the Flagship there and closed across the street

when we first moved to Lakside the mall was a cow pasture complete with stock ponds and the area where Randals origionally located was a dirt field with a bilboard for Lakside advertising it and a large hill of dirt about as high as the billboard that all the kids would ride bikes on....Westheimer was two lanes asphalt with bar ditches on the sides from at least where Beltway 8 was (long before Beltway 8 existed on anything more than a map and it was also two lanes on what was going to be one side of the access road and there were large hills of dirt all up and down between Westheimer and the Bayou that were in place to be the over passes for the freeway part)

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  • 11 years later...

Doing some research on North Oaks Mall for a new page on my site.

 

Turns out it was originally planned as a 200,000 square foot mall. Which while still small, especially for a modern mall, is much bigger than the current ~70,000 square feet of mall space that ended up being built. The mall was also planned to include a full size ice rink, racquetball court, and bowling alley in addition to the movie theater. Looks like what we ended up with was more of a compromise. I haven't been able to find any older photos of the mall, but do have some recent ones on the page. https://houstonhistoricretail.com/malls/north-oaks-mall/

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Just a thought here, if those Target stores opened in 1976 that would have made them some of the earliest in the chain outside of their first locations in Minnesota, right? I don't think Targets became especially prevalent nationwide until the late 1980s or early 1990s, right?

 

That store would have been roughly similar to the one on Fondren, right? I remember that one vaguely as my grandmother lived nearby. Somehow as a small child I think we went to that FM 1960 North Oaks Target sometimes too. But then when they opened the one in the The Woodlands in Pinecroft Center that was much closer to where we lived and we always went there.

 

 

Edited by zaphod
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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/16/2020 at 1:45 PM, zaphod said:

Just a thought here, if those Target stores opened in 1976 that would have made them some of the earliest in the chain outside of their first locations in Minnesota, right? I don't think Targets became especially prevalent nationwide until the late 1980s or early 1990s, right?

 

According to Target's website, their first expansion out of Minnesota happened in 1968, and Houston was one of the cities for this initial expansion:

 

1968

Updating the Bullseye

In the late 1960s, Target expands across the country to the metro areas of St. Louis, Dallas and Houston.

 

https://corporate.target.com/about/purpose-history/Target-through-the-years

I've heard a rumor that North Oaks Cinema hosted a regular midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show back in the 80s. Does anyone know if this is true?

Edited by Reefmonkey
Separate comments, should not be merged.
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13 hours ago, Reefmonkey said:

I've heard a rumor that North Oaks Cinema hosted a regular midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show back in the 80s. Does anyone know if this is true?

 

Never heard of regular showings at the North Oaks. Rocky Horror screenings took place at multiple theaters in Houston, most notably the Alabama until it closed in 1983, then some time later the River Oaks.  There's a blog covering the history of Rocky Horror in Houston with a list of past casts/theaters, but the North Oaks is not mentioned. 

 

http://houstonrocky.blogspot.com/p/cast-histories.html

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Quote

According to Target's website, their first expansion out of Minnesota happened in 1968, and Houston was one of the cities for this initial expansion:

 

I had a part time job at a Target and I distinctly remember having to go on an internal website through a PC in the office to do training, schedule changes, etc, and there was a part where you had to select your store out of a list The list had the store's name and its number, and the store numbers are generally sequential so the older the store the lower the number. At least that's what somebody told me. Anyways this is memorable because there was a store in Dallas that was very low numbered, 008 I think, I believe the one by the old Valley View Mall and present day Dallas Galleria. From the outside it doesn't look too old but from Google Maps it has an unusual footprint and a substantial attic or loft in the center of the building which makes it look a bit different. Could it be from way back then? It seems to still be open.

 

I wonder what the oldest Target in operation is? For that matter I wonder where the oldest Wal-mart is.

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Ask and ye shall receive:

 

On July 2, 1962, Sam Walton opened the first Walmart Discount City store at 719 W. Walnut Street in    Rogers. Arkansas. The building is now occupied by a hardware store and an antiques mall, while the company's "Store #1" has since expanded to a Supercenter several blocks west at 2110 W. Walnut Street. O

 

Target beat Walton by two months in the race for discount store shopping. On May 1, 1962, the Dayton Company opened its first Target discount store located at 1515 West County Road B in the Saint Paul suburb of Roseville, Minnesota. 

 

Sadly, the first Target store is no longer with us. 

 

220px-2009-0610-009-Roseville-TargetNo1.jpg

This SuperTarget in Roseville, Minnesota, sits on the site of the first Target store, which opened in 1962 and was torn down and replaced by this much larger store in 2005.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have shopped at this mall/center since it opened around 1979 or 1980.  It was unexpected to have a mall built so far from a freeway.  The Westchase Vantage development codes mandated extra setbacks and deluxe landscaping so it has always been an attractive area. Originally Westchase had giant chrome concave circles mounted in massive concrete retaining walls with landscaped berms at the major intersections.  (Wasn't one behind the Rusty Pelican that had to be incorporated into their landscape, eventually demolished due to street widening.  Another one was in front of the Hilton.) The Westchase Target has been enlarged by moving out the front, rear and east walls by about 20' about 15 years ago.  Even so, the manager there says the store is still the smallest in Houston, also the oldest he says.  It's completely ample though.  I imagine the new Target going in on Westheimer at Shepherd will be much smaller. It must be a new concept.

 

I think when Westchase Mall started being phased out, they started on the west end, carving out the space for Randall's.  That was called their Concept Store where they tried new ideas, many of which were incorporated into later Flagship locations.  It was closest to their headquarters so the management could study the results. 

 

Larry's Shoes was one of the greatest stores in the mall.  It was there from the beginning, opening into the mall, and survived the conversion several years with entrance reoriented into the front building façade.  Larry's was impressive. It was huge, as large as a Walgreens perhaps, had a high ceiling, and was beautifully designed with impressive lighting and displays.  They were heavily promoted and had their own vocal theme song for their commercials.   The store was nicer than anything in the Galleria at that time. That area was considered among the best in Houston at that time. I had never considered this until something happened in the neighborhood that made the TV news and they described the area as upscale and affluent. 

 

Target came into Houston about 1970 in a big way locating on major chunks of land near all the best malls.  The stores were or seemed gigantic, complete with automotive repair departments (that were soon shuttered and sat vacant for decades).  The Sharpstown and Echo Target store buildings are still around so the size can be determined.  They changed directions into developing stores on smaller sites and less traveled roads  for the most part except for the store built more recently at Memorial City Mall replacing the Montgomery Ward's store.  The Westchase store was almost closed when the Target on Westheimer near Fondren and the Super Target at Eldridge were built.  Amazingly Target responded to requests from the customers to leave it open.  I wonder if Westheimer is the street with the most Targets in the USA?  There are soon to be four on Westheimer.

 

I have a map of the original mall showing the names of all the stores somewhere. I'll post them when I find it. I imagine they are listed in an old directory. Wasn't the Black Eyed Pea original to the mall?  The center across Wilcrest from the mall was also very deluxe when new.  I believe it's owned by Weingarten Realty as well.  It had a really beautiful Houston's Restaurant, now unfortunately converted to an emergency clinic.  

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