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IronTiger

Echo Lane Shopping Center

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So in my research of the Interstate 10 demolitions and AppleTree, I've recently discovered the http://www.smithcodevelopment.com/emails/Flyer_echolane.pdf'>Echo Lane Shopping Center. The Kroger is seen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kroger#Expansion'>here. It was originally an AppleTree (and thus, by extension, a Safeway) due to the fact that a Chron article mentions this was one of the AppleTrees that they were trying to sell off. It's also almost identical to Village Foods in Bryan, Texas, a former AppleTree until c. 2009.

 

If you look at http://goo.gl/maps/Ur9uJ'>Google Maps, you'll see that the Kroger space was expanded later. Given that this space wasn't expanded yet in an old '74 aerial (where the shopping center was still there), I'm wondering if Safeway was always a charter tenant and expanded later. The Loehmann's + Firehouse Subs + a few other stores "box" also suggests it was a junior anchor of some sort. I guessed "Service Merchandise", though a Sports Authority next to the Hermann Memorial Hospital takes that claim, so I guess not, and it's too small to be a discount store.

 

Anyone know more about the history of this place?

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I grew up here and went to high school right behind this strip center, which was developed, conveniently, just before the years I was attending high school (late 1970's). Where the Chase Bank is, up front by the freeway, was a brand new McDonalds (with no drive through) which was a great hit with the high schoolers, since we were allowed to eat off campus as Seniors. I believe the McDonalds was torn down completely and replaced by the bank building.

 

Where Pet Depot is, was originally another hit restaurant, the fabulously decorated, Ninfa's. Baskin Robbins originally had the space where Mattress Firm is now. It had the "desk type" chairs to eat at. Walgreens was Sav-On Drugs back in the 70's. Along that stretch, there was a series of small tenants, including Menchaca's hair salon (between AppleTree & Sav-On) with the groovy male/female logo. Very avant garde to have a hair place that did both men and women! I got my hair cut there. Where Baskin Robbins is now, there used to be a funky card and gift shop in the 1980's. My wedding dress was bought at a Bridal Shop which faced Echo Lane, probably the spot where Dapper Dan Cleaners is, now. "Jeans Etc." was a boutique listed in my high school newspaper, May 21, 1980. They carried all the designer jeans of the 70's. But, I don't remember what spot they were at, possibly next to Menchaca's. The building which houses Calico Corner and the 2 restaurants was built originally as a smaller structure for a realtor, perhaps Martha Turner Realty, and they occupied the whole smaller building.

 

The super market did start out as AppleTree, but was remodeled in the 1980's, with extensions out front.

 

The 1973 historicaerials.com for this area shows a pine tree filled rectangular field where the shopping center was soon to be built. Just to the west, you can see the buildings of Handy Dan Hardware (on the east side, closest to the future Echo Lane Shopping Center) and Target, both purposefully built for each retailer. This was the first Target I had ever seen and shopped at during my junior high years in the mid-70's. Previously, we had shopped at Globe Discount Store, which was on the SW corner of Gessner and I-10, where the new hospital building is, now. Historicaerials.com is a fine resource for Houston, as it has aerials starting in 1953, up to 2004.

 

 

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The 1976(?) Google Earth aerials has the shopping center already built, with a few changes (supermarket not extended), which means that the supermarket probably started out as Safeway. The west anchor is still a mystery, though. Target I did know about, it had a very distinctive store structure at the time that included a grocery store and auto center (see: Auchan 610).

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It was an AppleTree, originally.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AppleTree_Markets  The SW corner had the stand alone Ninfa's restaurant. The NW corner had a lot of individual store spaces, including the Baskin Robbins, that I mentioned, at the top NW corner. McDonald's is a stand alone little building in the NE corner, under the word "copyrighted" :) The realtor office is small and in the middle, north side.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 9.09.21 PM.png

Edited by detached

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I must have missed your original quote...I found the McDonald's independently another time, it must have closed when they built the gas station/McDonald's across the street. But no, the original store was a Safeway, not an AppleTree. AppleTree was only founded in 1989 after Safeway divested their Houston division and the store predates it. However, this was the only AppleTree to renovate and expand after the sale (no other stores were ever built or received a real remodel far as I can tell). In my collection, I have a picture of the décor this AppleTree had. Possibly it was the upscale and unique features of this AppleTree that caused Kroger to rebrand it as "Kroger of the Villages" when they purchased it in 1994.

 

So the building to the east of Target was a Handy Dan...it looks the building remained intact well into the early 2000s. Wonder what it was in its later years.

 

Also, Sav-on Drugs was in Houston? Like, the chain later owned by Albertsons? Huh. When did they pull out?

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10 hours ago, IronTiger said:

I must have missed your original quote...I found the McDonald's independently another time, it must have closed when they built the gas station/McDonald's across the street. But no, the original store was a Safeway, not an AppleTree. AppleTree was only founded in 1989 after Safeway divested their Houston division and the store predates it. However, this was the only AppleTree to renovate and expand after the sale (no other stores were ever built or received a real remodel far as I can tell). In my collection, I have a picture of the décor this AppleTree had. Possibly it was the upscale and unique features of this AppleTree that caused Kroger to rebrand it as "Kroger of the Villages" when they purchased it in 1994.

 

So the building to the east of Target was a Handy Dan...it looks the building remained intact well into the early 2000s. Wonder what it was in its later years.

 

Also, Sav-on Drugs was in Houston? Like, the chain later owned by Albertsons? Huh. When did they pull out?

I am not quite sure when they actually left Houston. This article may help:    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osco_Drug_and_Sav-on_Drugs

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Sav-on Drugs pulled out of Houston some time in the early/mid 80's. I know this because there was one built in a former Eagle Foods shopping center in the early 80's at Uvalde and Wallisville that is currently a Family Thrift Store. It didn't last long, Sav-on closed and Walgreens took its place afterwards (eventually it relocated to a standalone). 

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3 hours ago, matty1979 said:

I think this is where Ninfas was. Apparently this was taken in 1974.

image.jpeg

Good find! Actually, this is the section to the north of the Ninfa's. This is the NW end of the shopping center.  Ninfa's was purpose built in its own stand-alone location at the SW corner of the shopping center. Baskin Robbins was to the right of this store (where Mattress Firm is in the photo I am attaching). You can still see the arched windows in the vacant 2014 street view that match those in this Kids' Kounty image:  

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 8.49.28 PM.png

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I'm guessing that the center remodeled in the late 1980s when AppleTree expanded. SOMEwhere in my archives I have a picture when AppleTree was still at the center.

 

There was a blurb in Texas Monthly regarding Kids' Kounty.

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