Rummel Creek Village is a very interesting shopping center. With wooden shingles, ample trees, and vintage facade, you almost feel closer to the Hill Country than Houston here. Despite fitting stylistically with the surrounding Memorial Villages area, Rummel Creek Village is actually entirely within Houston. It’s anyone’s guess as to how it has survived unchanged for so long, but thankfully with age the design has only gained charm. It almost looks like something that would have never been built in Houston, due to our tendency to stick with very drab and plain and largely stucco shopping centers. This is at the behest of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) the companies which own and manage these properties. Essentially the more minimalistic a design used, the higher the profit, which is the name of the game with REITs. Unfortunately Houston based Weingarten Realty was horribly guilty of this practice, electing to “modernize” most shopping centers by slapping a coat of stucco along the front, and removing or covering up any sloping rooflines. Thankfully, though, at least a few examples of their classic eccentric designs exist to be seen. Rummel Creek Center, was built around a 1960s Weingarten Grocery store, which we’re taking a look at today.
Located at 13188 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079 this store opened as a Weingarten’s in February 1969. As built, store number #91 was freestanding in anticipation of the rest of the shopping center, which would be constructed over the next few years. While already known for having excellent amenities, this Weingarten’s had some stand out departments, including prepared foods, and an expanded garden center. While it’s difficult to gauge where this store fell in terms of business, it seemed to be a fairly popular location, often being included in promotional events. In 1983 Grand Union, who had acquired Weingarten three years prior, quietly put the chain up for sale right before the end of the year. Within only a few months time, most of the chain was divided up and sold to many other grocers, with Safeway taking the largest single share. However, some stores were closed without buyers, and were put up for lease. Oddly, no grocer would pick up the location, Safeway likely avoided it due to their own issues at Memorial and Dairy Ashford. As well, the nearby Randall’s Flagship in a former Handy Andy set the bar relatively high for any independents interested in the area. However, the store would not sit vacant for long, as Zayre lined up Texas as the next state to expand their TJ Maxx concept. It’s possible, that an existing relationship which Weingarten Realty had with Zayre from managing properties in Northern states helped them line TJ Maxx up for their own former grocery store. Regardless of how it happened, TJ Maxx opened at least two locations, in former Weingartens in 1984.