Friday, September 18, 2009

Prien Lake Mall Lake Charles Louisiana

Welcome to Prien Lake Mall

Prien Lake Mall opened in 1972 and it is owned by Simon Malls. I am not sure of the original anchors since there is very little information available online for this mall. In the mid 1990's JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, and the White House were the anchors. The mall was nearly doubled in size in the late 1990's and added Sears (moved from downtown Lake Charles) and Dillard's. The new anchors are much larger than the older anchors and both are two stories tall. Montgomery Ward closed with the rest of the chain in 2001, and the site was completely remodeled and replaced by Foley's a couple years later. Foley's also opened a home store in front of the mall. Foley's was re branded as Macy's and closed shortly thereafter. Now Kohl's has remodeled half of the former Macy's and is set to open later this month. The White House closed and was replaced by a Cinemark Theater. The mall is the only one in the Lake Charles metro area and does very well. The Simon website shows an old picture of Prien Lake Mall with a Kay Bee Toy Outlet in the middle of the photo.

Here is the directory of this simple mall. The entire left or west half of the mall was added on in the late 1990's.

This half of the former Macy's is still waiting redevelopment. There are several labelscars on this former anchor.

This is a view of the JCPenney and Picadilly entrance.

At this mall Sam Goody still lives! This store is located in front of the new Kohl's.

Here are some interior photos from my phone camera. The Aladdin's Castle is closed but the 1980's era neon is still on for now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Town and Country Mall: City Centre at Town and Country

Welcome to City Centre at Town and Country formerly known as Town and Country Mall.

Opened in 1983 and closed June 30, 2004 this was the only completely three story mall in the Houston area and one of my favorites. The mall was located on Beltway 8 near the I-10 interchange. Town and Country Mall was built a mile away from Memorial City Mall to compete as a luxury high end mall. Shortly after the mall opened; both of the freeways nearby began lengthy reconstruction. The mall was very hard to get to and shoppers went elsewhere because of the traffic. The mall began to decline and never recovered from this setback. The anchors were Neiman Marcus (closed 2005), Joske's later Dillard's (closed 2003), JCPenney (closed 2001), and Marshal Fields later Saks Fifth Avenue (closed 2000) were the anchors at this center. I remember going to this mall in the early 1990's with my family a few times and the mall was not crowded at all. The mall at this time did not have many stores on the third level except for the Tilt arcade. All of the anchors had three level access except JCPenney; the third level near JCPenney had a bunch of seats but no restaurants open even in my first visits there. Another uniqueness about the JCPenney was that it was designed exactly the same on the inside as the Belle Promenade JCPenney in Marrero Louisiana. Joske's was bought out by Dillard's and changed over. Dillard's had expanded the store across a significant portion of the third level of the mall. The Saks Fifth Avenue anchor opened as a Marshal Fields and shut down, but was quickly replaced by Saks. Neiman Marcus was a typical store with a clearance center on the third floor. The mall did not have a food court but there were a few fast food outlets on the first and second floors near the center of the mall. Upon my return to Houston in 1999; this mall had suffered tremendously. The mall had roughly 25% of the in line stores in business and the third floor was empty except for a few offices and Tilt. We went to this mall on Black Friday in 2000 and most of the clerks we talked to were making jokes about how dead the mall was. They also were talking about the mall probably closing soon and being demolished. Within three years of our visit; three of the anchors had announced plans to close or just shut down with no notice (Saks). Memorial City Mall expanded and added more space to their mall taking away most of the customer bas of Town and Country. The mall was bought in 2003 with plans to convert the space to other uses, and a renovation began. In late 2003 I took my wife to Town and Country to show her how slow it was. We walked around the mall and by around 8pm that weekday; we noticed that we were the only people left in the mall. We tried to leave but all of the doors were locked. We finally found a janitor and he let us out. My wife was very pregnant at this point, so our misfortune did not please her one bit. The renovation stopped shortly thereafter and then plans of demolishing the mall came out and the mall tenants were given a two month notice to leave. We went to the mall during the last month in business and in the former JCPenney building a company was having an open auction, so I got to check out the store one more time before it was demolished. The mall was down to around ten stores. The mall closed in the summer of 2004 and was demolished while the Neiman Marcus stayed open. Neiman Marcus signed a lease for fifteen years to stay, but closed before the redevelopment of the property began. The Neiman Marcus building was demolished and it is now a Studio Movie Grill. I guess they were able to unload their lease for a hefty price because they have not returned to that location. The parking garages were left intact from the mall but the entire structure has been replaced by a mixed use development called City Centre that opened in 2008. Town homes have been built on top of what was the JCPenney and a lifestyle center was built on the rest of the property. There is also a high rise condo building on the edge of the property facing Beltway 8. The new development is very nice and upscale just as the mall was when it opened, but the new project will have much greater success.

Behind the blanket is the red neon sign from the old mall; you can see the outline of the old logo. One of the parking garages also had the same red neon sign.

Here is a rudimentary diagram of the layout of this mall; that is not to scale. (Don't laugh!)

This is the one and only picture that I took of the mall just before it was demolished in 2005. This was the entrance from the Beltway to Dillard's; the former Dillard's is to the right.

The three parking garages are all that remains of the former mall. Each garage was attached to the mall on each of the three levels, so this mall was huge.

These fountains in the center of the complex are a huge improvement over what was here before.

Here are some more pictures of the City Centre development.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Westwood Mall: Southwest Corporate Center

Welcome to the Southwest Corporate Center formerly known as Westwood Mall.

Anchored by Sears, a small movie theatre, and Dillards; this two story mall did not last very long. It opened in the mid 1970's and closed at the end of the 1990's. The mall was built two freeway exits southwest of the Sharpstown Center to cater to the growing population of the area. The mall was renovated once in the late 1980's also. Foley's at one point was in talks to move their Sharpstown location to Westwood in the mid 1990's, but that never panned out. The mall began to rapidly decline when the First Colony Mall in Sugarland opened in the mid 1990's. A shooting at the Wyatt's cafeteria in 1993 did not help the image of the mall and may have been another contributing factor to the declining sales at the mall. The death knell for the mall was the closure of Dillard's in 1997. The few remaining mall tenants were given the option to leave and break their leases. Sears was left as the lone anchor tenant while the rest of the property was redeveloped. I never went to the mall when it was open and there is not much information available online about the mall history; the Houston Chronicle archives helped to create this article. Today the mall has been turned into offices called the Southwest Corporate Center with Sears still attached and open for business. The entire mall including the Dillard's was gutted out and remodeled to this design. The new development has had three names since being re-positioned as an office complex. The center went from Westwood Technology Center, to Southwest Technology Center, and now Southwest Corporate Center. This has been a great example of mall re-use but this model will not work everywhere. If anyone of my readers has any other information please let me know.

Sears is the only retail outlet available at the former mall. Sears owns its own building and opened before the mall did. Maybe the Sears would consider relocating to the Sharpstown Mall if they did not own that site.

This was the former Dillard's at the mall. This is as close as I could get without a parking pass.

Here are a few shots of the mall. The pictures are not easy to get since most of the former mall complex has been fenced off for private parking.

From this next view it looks as if this part of the mall had a second floor entrance; Dillard's might have had a second floor entrance as well. Once again; this site is very hard to get pictures of due to the gates around most of the complex.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Northline Commons: Formerly Northline Mall

Northline Commons is the cookie cutter shopping complex that has replaced the dead Northline Mall. This article is an update to my previous Northline Mall post. Several of the stores are carryovers from the mall such as Palais Royal, Foot Locker, Marlon's, WaMu, and CiCi's Pizza. The center still has a small section of parking lot from the Montgomery Ward with the old style parking lot lights left, but that is the only remnant of the mall that was there. This center is doing well and may beat out the redevelopment at Gulfgate with more available land for development.