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Galvez Mall 1980s renovation and aftermath


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As documented with text and photographs in earlier postings by various members, the interior and exterior of Galvez Mall (Galveston TX) was cosmetically renovated circa mid-1980s as part of a plan to convert it from a general purpose to a more upscale retail facility. Photographs (May 1976) show its exterior appearance at the approximate midpoint between its original opening (circa 1968) and its subsequent interior and exterior renovations. Photographs (July 1987) show its interior and exterior appearance after renovations. These renovations were (in my opinion) well executed, but ultimately ineffective for the stated goal of attracting tenants. The then general manager of Galvez Mall attributed this to a severe economic recession during 1986 & 1987.

Although there were no nationwide economic recessions during this time period, there was a severe and prolonged economic recession in the greater Houston area beginning in the early 1980s and bottoming out in 1987. The recession was due to the collapse of petroleum prices and the consequent high unemployment rate. The greater Houston economy did not return to its pre-recession level until early 1990.  

To summarize: Galvez Mall opened in 1968 as a general purpose retail shopping mall with a mixture or large medium, & small retail stores, and a triple-screen movie theater. In circa 1986 it was sold and cosmetically renovated (interior & exterior) to attract more upscale tenants. In late 1994, Houston-based developer Steve Fincher (dba Baxstep Investments) purchased the mall, renamed it THE ISLAND, and attempted (without success) to market it as an outlet mall for retailers who sold discontinued and overstocked merchandise. Some taxing authorities (but not Galveston County) provided a 5-year tax abatement to this developer. Beall's (the last major tenant) left in March 1996 leaving only two smaller retail tenants, GNC and Ritz Camera. The Island Fellowship Church operated at the former Beall's location until mid 1997. Another non-retail tenant, Galveston County Model Railroad Club set up a working model train layout and held meetings inside the mall until sometime in 1995. Photographs (Oct 1996) show the mall's exterior appearance seven months after Beall's departed. The mall became derelict (probably during the latter months of 1997) until its demolition in 2000. The land is now occupied by two large stores, Home Depot and Target (each with its own building), as well as a several smaller stores arranged in a strip. Walmart is only 2.2 miles south at 6702 Seawall Blvd. The nearest multi-screen movie theater, Galveston Primetime, is approximately 3.8 miles away (from Home Depot & Target) at 8902 Seawall Blvd. According to a promotional excerpt from Galveston County The Daily News, island area real estate developer, Miguel Prida, recently purchased the theater. Access to the full article requires an online or print subscription to the newspaper.    

 

 

Edited by k5jri radio
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You obviously weren't living in Texas in the 80s. The recession the GM of Galvez was referring to was the oil bust of the mid-80s that really hit the Houston-area economy hard. Nobody who lived in Houston in the mid 80s, no matter how young, would forget what it was like. I was just a kid, but lost a lot of friends as their dads lost their jobs and had to move elsewhere for work. The price of oil bottomed out at $12.51/bbl in 1986. That, along with the savings and loan crisis of the mid-late 80s, which was worse in Texas than anywhere else. At least half of the failed S&Ls were based in Texas. Real estate prices plummeted. Our state fell into a deep recession. Downtown Houston was a ghost town at this time, office occupancy rates plummeted. We were just starting to come out of it around the time we hosted the economic summit in 1990.

 

1986 proved to be a watershed year for Houston, cleaving Old Houston from the Modern Houston we live in today. So many venerable old Houston institutions, especially those that catered to affluent oil-rich Texans, were casualties of the oil bust, that much of Houston’s unique culture and heritage died and was replaced by a more generic Large American City culture.

Edited by Reefmonkey
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Although there were no nationwide economic recessions during most of the 1980s (1982 to 1990), the 1980s recession affecting the greater Houston TX area (including Galveston TX) is well documented online.

In the mid-1980s, I was offered a transfer from the Jacksonville FL location to the Houston TX location of GE ICES (Instrumentation Communication Electronic Services) Calibration Lab. To the best of my recollection, nothing was said during the interview process about economic recession conditions or other problems with the Houston area economy. I decided not to take the transfer offer because it was lateral (no promotion) and did not offer financial assistance for moving expenses. Had the transfer offer included financial assistance for moving expenses, it is likely I would have taken the offer. In later years, GE ICES and many other GE manufacturing and technical service components went away as GE transitioned from a leading manufacturing company with financial subsidiaries to a middling financial company with manufacturing subsidiaries. 

Edited by k5jri radio
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19 hours ago, k5jri radio said:

I did state state the disclaimer "unless this was a local condition peculiar to the area." What you are describing is just that, a local condition peculiar to the area. The then GM of the Galvez Mall would have improved his posting had he described the recession as a local condition in and around the greater Houston area. 

 

In the former Galvez GM's defense, this is houstonarchitecture.com, it is targeted to a pretty specific local audience, ie mostly Houston residents. Even transplants usually learn about the 80s oil crunch and its effects on the city from neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc. after having lived here a while. So it wasn't unreasonable of him to assume that visitors to this page would know what he was talking about.

Edited by Reefmonkey
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Been there, done that lots of times via Houston I-45 to Galveston. Always wanted to take the ferry from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston Island. Starting from Beaumont TX, it's about 80 miles and 2 hours driving time via the Bolivar Peninsula. The 2.7 mile ferry ride takes 18 minutes + 9 minutes average loading time either direction. When there is a long line of vehicles waiting to board, there may be a longer waiting time, depending on how many ferries are in service.

By contrast, it's about 120 miles and 2 hours driving time from Beaumont to Galveston via I-10 & I-45. The route via I-10 & I-45 is efficient and convenient provided you avoid arriving in Houston during weekday morning or evening rush hour traffic.

 

 

  

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