Greetings readers, I have some sad news for you as we approach the end of the year. Northwest Mall’s final retail tenant, Thompson’s Antique Center, is set to close their doors for the last time December 31st. The shutdown comes with little notice to the public, and a similarly small amount of heads up for vendors. After speaking with one vendor at the antique center, they supposedly received only about a month’s worth of notice. The space occupied by the antique center is as of 2021 the only retailer still operating out of what was once Northwest Mall. While a Medical College does use space in the mall, it is not open to the public. The mall, which closed in 2017, also played host to Palais Royal until it closed in 2019 during the early stages of the chain’s melt down. Both were surviving anchor tenants from a mall that was “closed for renovation”. While from the outside it looks like little to no work was done to the mall, after some “urban explorers” made it into the mall, photographic evidence has come forward that shows Levcor was doing some minor interior work prior to sealing everything up later that year. It seems that the motivation to shut down the renovation project may have been the impending sale of the land. The site is set to be used as the Houston station for the Texas Central Railway High speed train project. The land for the Houston station was quietly acquired in early 2020. Despite the lack of notice in person, the closing can be verified via the Antique Center’s Facebook.
The former JCPenney is the second home for Thompson’s Antique Center. Their former location at 1001 W Loop N Fwy, opened around 1991, in a former warehouse space. When the Katy Freeway to 290 Expansion project was revealed around 2010 it included a new set of express lanes bypassing 610, but crossing overhead of the Antique Center, and many other businesses. The fact that eminent domain was used for the project led to criticism of the state. Northwest Mall would also argue that this project was killing a reasonably successful regional mall. In somewhat of an exchange for the out lot tenants that were demolished during freeway expansion, Northwest Mall was provided with a new tenant. The Antique Center! With the Penney’s being vacant for over 10 years at that point, most things were ripped out to the wall, the escalators were built in, and a few amenities were added. However, anything else that was left behind was utilized, including the original mall entrance. As part of the deal, TxDot also provided Northwest Mall with new signage to help drive business. These factors were praised by some, as being just exactly what the mall needed. However, it would prove to be too little too late. When Northwest Mall closed in 2017, most folks seemed confident that actual work would be done on the mall, and it would reopen. With its cousin, Almeda Mall being a prime example of how to win over your customers in an equally dated and small setting.
The mall was quietly acquired by the High Speed Railway, early last year. The company purchased the former bank, the Granite Store, the mall, and the Macy’s property, all of which were separate portions. Levcor, did retain one single portion of land to the North of the mall along West 18th Street. For the time being it is mostly empty parking lot, however it does hold a large cell tower, and associated facilities which are likely leased to the Telco by Levcor. The gas station on the mall property is not owned by either entity, and does not seem to be for sale as of 2021. Presumably, Levcor will redevelop the land as the rail station is built. Don’t hold your breath, though, I’d expect paid surface parking before just about anything else. When the plans to demolish the mall in favor of the rail station, I actually had the president of the rail company reach out to me, about my early coverage of the mall. I hoped to be able to get back in one day to cover everything I missed, but again, I’m not holding my breath.
If you still want to marvel in the goodness that is Northwest Mall, you have until December 31st to do so. This is the final day of operation at the “present location” for the antique center. Unfortunately, they’ve been tight-lipped about exactly where they’ll end up. Although they’ve said as much as Fondren and Westheimer. The same dealer who informed me of the current locations closing, was kind enough to let me know that the new location will only be around 50,000 square feet. This is only about half of what they presently have and explains the fact that tenancy has been down over the past few months at the Antique Center. In fact, it had thinned out enough that they were only using a single entrance, although this could be because I stopped by on a Wednesday. If you do stop by, deals are to be had, almost everyone’s booth has an automatic discount, and many sellers are there willing to negotiate.