Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Abandoned Houston big box stores 2014 & 2015

Here is a small collection of abandoned retail here in the Houston area. Retail development in Houston is very strong and many empty big box stores have been filled. The closing of Anna's Linens will create more empty space, but it will probably be quickly filled.

ALCO Houston Gessner Rd. Abandoned 2014, previously a 99 cent only store.
Kmart Houston Homestead Rd. closed in the 1990's. Most recently used as a flea market and abandoned in the early 2000's.
Best Buy Houston/Almeda abandoned 2008. The store closed when the Gulfgate Best Buy opened.
Target Houston/Almeda abandoned 2009. A replacement Super Target nearby on the beltway replaced this store.
Circuit City Houston/Almeda abandoned sometime in late 2005-early 2006. The Circuit City moved to a nearby shopping center and closed in 2009. Redeveloped into the Sonya clothing store, now being redeveloped into a new business possibly a warehouse. Lots of interior photos inside of the store here.
Circuit City Sugarland abandoned 2009. Most recently a Halloween Express.
As you can see most of the interior is still intact.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for these updated photos. It’s always good to get some new Houston photos. The Homestead and Parker Kmart is probably the most interesting story as that building was supposed to be demolished by the city some months back, but it has managed to survive. Perhaps the property owners or the city decided to clean up the building enough that it’s not considered a nuisance anymore. I don’t know if that site will ever see retail again, but hopefully that building/site will see some useful redevelopment. I know that area has seen hard times lately. It’ll be interesting to do a photo series about former Houston Kmart sites if you ever have the time to do that. I know that you have some photos already like the older Texas City ex-Kmart.

    It’s nice to see the former Gessner Rd. Alco again. The old Alco interior still kind of lives on in there.

    I took a quick glance over at the old big box stores by Almeda Mall the other day when I was driving on I-45. The old Circuit City/Sonia’s has been renovated a bit. The “plug” now appears to be grey. It looked like they were converting it into a warehouse/distribution place based on what I saw some months back, but I’m not totally sure. It also looked like there was some activity going on in the former Target parking lot too. I don’t know if they’re renovating that spot, tearing it down, or what. It was really hard to tell what was going on (it may have been nothing for all I know), but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was converted to a warehouse/distribution center too. The famed SITE Best Products store there was converted into one of those about ten years back or so. It’s still a little bit sad that all those stores, plus the public library in the Almeda Mall parking lot, are all gone now because I used to visit those places less than 10 years ago. Now it’s a ghost town back there even though the mall is doing relatively well.

    Your date might be off regarding the closing of the original Almeda Mall area Circuit City. I helped a friend purchase a CRT TV there in the late summer/fall of 2005. I still remember trying to fit the TV in my car! It must have been open until sometime in 2006 or 2007, but I’m not sure exactly when it closed. I know I shopped at the Best Buy in 2005 too (I brought a DVD set there in early summer of 2005). It may have closed sometime later in 2005, but it may have lasted until 2006. It’s hard to remember for sure.

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    1. It seems like the Homestead Kmart will sit there for a while longer unless the city gets involved.

      I think warehouses in the old commercial buildings behind Almeda may be one of the only uses that will work. I just don't see any retailers coming back to those buildings at this point.

      The Circuit City building was first listed for sale in 2005 according to Loopnet. I am off by a little bit and I will change the date to reflect that. I lived in the area from early 2004 to early 2006 and I know the change happened while I lived close by. Here is the link. http://www.loopnet.com/Property-Record/9950-Kleckley-Drive-Houston-TX-77075/ViU7yeY8w/Sale-Lease/?LID=17421150&LinkCode=21740&PgCxtGuid=b4a3cb53-b32f-4136-a63c-8e41a97b2163&PgCxtFLKey=&PgCxtCurFLKey=ProfileSE&PgCxtDir=Down
      The Best Buy actually lasted until early 2008 so I will change that one as well. I was relying on memory but it is not as good as it used to be.

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    2. I agree with you that I don’t think retailers, major ones at least, will return to the Kleckley strip behind Almeda Mall. Although Almeda Mall generates a decent amount of shopping traffic, the freeway visibility on Kleckley, especially for the Target building, is not good and access is slightly tricky to that road. Visibility for the Wal-Mart area is even worse, but at least Wal-Mart drives a significant amount of shopping traffic. Anyway, converting those retail buildings to warehouses is probably a good thing given those constraints.

      My memory isn’t what it used to be either I’m afraid, but at least you were kind of close on those dates. I spent a lot of time on the SE side in the mid-2000s. I especially spent a lot of time at Almeda Mall in 2005. I probably made more trips to the Almeda Target in 2005 than I did to any other discount store that year. I still remember some of my specific shopping trips there and at the electronics stores next door in 2005 due to some of the other things that were going on at the time. I still spent time on the SE side through part of 2007 or so, and then again in 2009, but I didn’t visit Almeda Mall as frequently then so I’m not exactly sure when those stores closed.

      Anyway, I wonder if the Circuit City building was used as a warehouse even when Sonia’s was in there. There in an interior shot in there of a warehouse. It looks like it’s full of bottled water products and other food products. I doubt that was for Sonia’s.

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    3. It would take a large demolition of all of the buildings in that area to lure a new big box development back to that area. Since so many buildings are abandoned back there, a major retailer would not want to open a location surrounded by empty buildings. There are still several lots in the area that could be used for developments before this area would be considered. I am very surprised at the success of Almeda Mall over the past 5 years. I thought the mall was going to fade away, but I was proven wrong.

      I am going to make sure to get accurate dates when possible or just use blocks of dates if I am unsure in the future. I try to ensure that my blog is as accurate as possible.

      I wondered that as well, for such a small retail store there was a bunch of stuff back there. I should have probably gone in there before they closed that former Circuit City store because it was very well preserved.

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  2. That sure is a strange street sign the former Target had. What did the bottom half once say? It looks to have been partitioned into two sections, one for the word "Target" and one for some other mystery text.

    Also, are we sure the SuperTarget really was a replacement for this Target? The area around Almeda Mall is impoverished and plagued by crime (thus the mall has mostly died the same death as Greenspoint) so I'm thinking that maybe the old Target really was truly "closed" when its lease expired, but the new SuperTarget was somewhat meant to draw the customers of the old store. Or maybe Target really did truly "move" but it was on purpose the new store wasn't all that close to the new one.

    I do have to wonder though if there ever were plans to totally demolish Almeda Mall (or at least a major chunk of it) to build a SuperTarget, which would actually be a really good fit for the neighborhood. Similarly, there was a very small 70's Kroger (identical to the long-gone one at Jones and 1960 where Big Lots now is) across from Greenspoint Mall that I don't think was ever remodeled before it closed in the last five years. It's a shame the area is too depressed for Greenspoint Mall to have been demolished at some point for a Kroger Marketplace (this is the Kroger answer to Walmart Supercenter, SuperTarget, Super Kmart, etc) which would be an absolutely massive Kroger compared to the ones of the 70's. One Kroger Marketplace I know of is a former Woolco.

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    1. The Target was next to a Marshalls which closed a long time before the Target store. There is an identical former Target/Marshalls across 59 from PlazAmericas Mall. When the Target closed they had a sign in front of the store advertising their new Super Target on the Beltway. I am off on the date of closing which was in early 2009. I really botched the closing dates on these stores, but I was relying on memory which is not always the best. There was a rumor going around about a new Super Target going to the mall around the time of the Walmart opening.

      Greenspoint is an area that has seen lots of warehouse and office growth but the residental population has not grown significantly for some time now. If the mall was going to be redeveloped like they are planning at San Jacinto, then Kroger or HEB would be interested. Kroger is very methodical with their store growth and they want A+ sites with lots of nearby growing residential developments. Kroger does have a few older small stores operating around town, but those are disappearing little by little. Which Kroger is located in a former Woolco, I would be very interested in visiting that store.

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    2. The Target was next to a Marshalls which closed a long time before the Target store. There is an identical former Target/Marshalls across 59 from PlazAmericas Mall. When the Target closed they had a sign in front of the store advertising their new Super Target on the Beltway. I am off on the date of closing which was in early 2009. I really botched the closing dates on these stores, but I was relying on memory which is not always the best. There was a rumor going around about a new Super Target going to the mall around the time of the Walmart opening.

      Greenspoint is an area that has seen lots of warehouse and office growth but the residental population has not grown significantly for some time now. If the mall was going to be redeveloped like they are planning at San Jacinto, then Kroger or HEB would be interested. Kroger is very methodical with their store growth and they want A+ sites with lots of nearby growing residential developments. Kroger does have a few older small stores operating around town, but those are disappearing little by little. Which Kroger is located in a former Woolco, I would be very interested in visiting that store.

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    3. Unfortunately I don't remember what city, but the Woolco now Kroger Marketplace is somewhere in Ohio. I saw a few photos online years ago and it didn't look like any of the Woolco features were left intact. I'm not even sure actually if the Woolco building was kept at all. Odds are probably that it was demolished.

      But after Woolco originally closed, Drug Emporium and Burlington Coat Factory each took half of the building, and not surprisingly neither of those chains did much (if anything) to remodel it. Drug Emporium closed with the rest of the chain (except for a few franchised Texas and West Virginia stores) in 2003, and later was a Big Lots Furniture for a few years. I don't know whether Burlington closed their store for good or just relocated.

      Back to the topic of Kroger Marketplace, I have a strange story for you: Super Kmart used to have a store in Tabb, Virginia but the grocery section closed a few years ago. The rest of the Kmart is still open and Kroger (if it hasn't already done this) is moving to the former grocery section. This is a replacement for a small Kroger nearby that used to be a Hannaford. I'm surprised the Kmart is still open at all, not only because a Walmart Supercenter is down the street, but because Kmart/Sears is willing to close profitable stores if another retailer makes an offer on the property. Kroger could easily have done this and put a Kroger Marketplace at the site.

      And another fun fact about this shopping center: Ben Franklin Crafts had a store there that somehow dodged the closure of most Ben Franklin Crafts stores way back in 1996 or 1997, but eventually closed in 2011. AC Moore (a New Jersey crafts chain very similar to Hobby Lobby) now is at this site. Sort of ironically, the old 80's Walmart/Bud's Discount City in The Woodlands was very briefly a Ben Franklin Crafts, but now is a Big Lots, while the very short-lived Kmart a block away has been a Hobby Lobby for at least 20 years now.

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    4. As je said, there was a Marshalls next to the Almeda Mall area Target. I’m not sure when it closed. I believe that this Target, like other early Houston Targets, had a Target grocery store attached to it during the early years of the store. Kmart had a similar operation during their early years. This Target probably also had an auto center back in the day.

      Target put up a large road sign for this location. I’m thinking this was done to catch the attention of travelers on I-45 since the store itself has very little visibility from the freeway. Circuit City and Best Buy probably had similar issues, but those stores would have been more visible than the Target.

      It’s hard to say whether the Beltway Super Target was a replacement store or just a new store. It was probably a little bit of both as is often the case. That store was built at a time where Target was replacing a lot of their other 1970s/1980s built Houston stores with new locations built near the old locations.

      The Almeda Mall area has seen some challenges over the years, but I think the mall is doing better than Greenspoint Mall. Of course, it helps a lot that Almeda Mall is a lot smaller than Greenspoint Mall. The mall has done relatively well in recent years. The leasing rate is pretty good, Burlington took up some of the space in the old ex-JCPenney anchor, and Macy’s extensively renovated their store after Hurricane Ike damaged it instead of closing the store like they did at Northwest Mall. Almeda Mall was also renovated earlier this year. Fox Properties installed new flooring throughout the mall. The new flooring makes the mall look much more modern, but there are a few vintage aspects left like the Visible Changes storefront.

      Although the future of the mall was probably in doubt at the time when the big box stores closed across the street, I think that Almeda Mall has probably carved out a niche for itself in more recent years. Perhaps developers will want to buy the mall in the future and convert it to a regular shopping center, but for now I think the mall has a brighter future than other local malls like Northwest Mall, San Jacinto Mall, Pasadena Town Square, and perhaps even Greenspoint Mall.

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    5. I will see if I can find some info about the Kroger/Woolco building. There is a building in Baytown Texas that was obviously a Woolco that is now a storage place. The front of the building has not been modified and looks very good for it's age.

      I am also surprised that the Kmart in Virginia did not close to make way for Kroger to take over the entire store. I guess Kroger figured that they could not sustain a large store at this location. If anything Kroger could have bought this property and held onto it for a larger store in the future or their choice of a co-anchor for the building.

      I remember the Kmart in the Woodlands where the Big Lots is at now. I went there once looking for a video game, but I did not spend much time in that area so I missed many of the changes. Thanks for the information Marc.

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    6. There also was a Woolco in Houston on I-45 (I forget the cross street) that later was a Builders Square and now is a storage facility. Kmart also had a store nearby which later was a flea market but is now abandoned again, and Grant City (a rival of Kmart and Woolco that went out of business way back in 1976) was nearby too. That store was later Big Texan Bowling Alley but now is a large Food Town.

      As for that Kmart in Virginia, there still is a good chance for it to close. The shopping center is still doing very well and I could easily see Kmart closing but another big-box store doing very well: Target, Sam's Club (convenient to the nearby Walmart Supercenter), BJ's, Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe's are all possibilities.

      As for the vacated Hannaford/Kroger, I have a prediction it will be split into a Total Wine & More and an enlarged VA ABC liquor store to replace the old, small one nearby. Strangely, Total Wine (which sells beer, wine, AND spirits in many states) operates in Virginia even though it is forbidden to sell spirits there due to the ABC monopoly. North Carolina has ABC stores too.

      Actually the Kmart in The Woodlands is now a Hobby Lobby. But almost next door (separated by a minor street) is the Walmart/Bud's/Ben Franklin/Big Lots property. In Tomball though, you indeed can find a Walmart/Bud's that now is a Hobby Lobby (that I don't think ever was a Ben Franklin Crafts, but that wouldn't be impossible) and in Conroe, the Woolco/Walmart/Bud's? is now a Hobby Lobby. I'm pretty sure the current Walmart across the street was built in 1996 as a Supercenter, but there still is a chance it was built in the very early 90's as a standard Walmart and then expanded.

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    7. There’s a photo of the Tabb, VA, Kmart/Kroger from when the Kroger was under construction. There’s a construction sketch there showing what the Kroger looks like though.

      The ex-Kmart/flea market on I-45 and Little York in Houston was demolished in the past year. A lot of interesting Houston retail buildings have been demolished lately or will be soon. Some of them, like the Homestead & Parker ex-Kmart, were scheduled to be demolished, but the demolition has been put on hold.

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  3. check out pecanland mall in Monroe, LA!

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    1. I plan on making it down there one day to the Monroe area. I do accept reader photos for blog submissions if you would like to contribute to the blog until I have an opportunity to visit there. My email is southernmalls@gmail.com. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. That entrance arch on the Almeda Best Buy suggests it may have been a Children's Palace toy store at some point.

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    1. Good catch Stelly, it looks like this was a former Children's Palace store. Go to the following web site and scroll down to Kleckly in Houston. It shows Almeda Mall, but the site is right across the street from the picture. http://childworld.rocks/store-locations/texas-locations/

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  5. Would like to see some interior pictures of the old homestead road Kmart. It closed back around 1993 and I believe has pretty much been vacant since.

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    1. It was a short lived flea market after Kmart left, but it was long closed by the time I discovered this store. Maybe someone can provide us with some old photos of this or other Kmart stores in the Houston area.

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