When Northwest Mall closed its interior in 2017, it was under the auspicious news of a remodel and refresh. Levcor Properties, then owner, claimed that the mall would be revamped and soon reopened to help complement the revitalizing Spring Branch area. It all happened so long ago, that it was reported on Swamplot, which is where I first heard about the mall’s impending closure. As this closure was only to be temporary, Levcor allowed tenants with exterior entrances to remain. Thompson’s Antique Center in the old JCPenney, Palais Royal, where I took some viral photos and a few other stragglers were left behind. These include a club, which closed maybe a few weeks after the mall. A rehab clinic lasted a few months, and the College of Healthcare Professions is still open as of this post. However, that is quickly about to change. The second-to-last tenant to close was covered recently on HHR, Thompson’s Antique Center, which is taking over the old Suninland store on Gessner. It left the old JCPenney in the days after Christmas.
So, what happened with that renovation? Well, going through my own photos and recollections, after the remaining interior tenants made their way out, a small amount of refurbishment work took place. A few crews were brought in to start work. One of their first tasks was to build a wall closing off the antique center from the mall. A small door was inlaid into the wall to allow access between the anchor and mall space. Next, another crew began dismantling signage, both hanging directional signs, and the directories and advertisements were moved out of place and laid in wait by the entrance corridors. Finally, another group was tasked with boarding up and securing the doors. A few sets were left accessible, such as the fire exit from the still-open club. Another entrance left open was used by construction workers to enter and exit the building. The corridors that still had access, were given electric eye sensors and the entire mall was outfitted with a security system, and this was the end of any rehabilitation. While it wasn’t public knowledge at the time, another group already had their eyes on the mall, and Levcor had plans to sell the mall.
The talks from the Texas Central High-Speed Rail project became public towards the end of 2017, with renderings of the proposed station published on Swamplot the following year. Throughout all these years, little changed with Northwest Mall. It has continued to sit walled off, with interior tenants slowly closing down. The Palais Royal closed in 2019 during the early stages of the company’s bankruptcy, ending the ability to view the interior corridors of the mall. However, the Antique Center and the Healthcare College seemed unphased. Over the past two years, they were the only tenants still operating at Northwest Mall. The Antique Center, who famously relocated here after TxDOT demolished their original digs during the 610/290/I-10 interchange expansion, stubbornly refused to advertise their closing, according to dealers who were manning the going-out-of-business sale. In fact, this was how I discovered the store was closing, during a visit for photos and actually to buy some Christmas presents. It seems that in early 2021, the property finally changed hands from Levcor to Cadiz Development, a company formed by the Texas Central Railway to develop their station properties. According to permits filed, Dallas-based developer Matthews Southwest is taking the lead of the project, with a Northeasterly portion of the parking lot remaining under Levcor. As of 2022 the mall is in a rather poor shape, urban explorers have also found their way inside.
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Cadiz seems unwilling to renew leases, with tenants having to find new homes. Driving up 290, I found the new location for the College of Healthcare Professions in the old Lindsey Furniture Offices/Distribution Center in the failed corporate park near the HOV flyover. While it’s not known what the exact next steps for the High-Speed Rail Station are, demolition of the mall is likely to come first. The station will be built further back from the interchange and at an angle from the railroad across Hempstead Road. While the trains won’t share the same rails, they will run parallel to the existing tracks coming into the city. In 2017, the fate of the mall seemed uncertain, and while I knew the mall was doomed from the day an outside firm announced its intent to redevelop, I didn’t know when the final day would be. However, now, with the knowledge that the property has been sold and leases are being terminated, it’s obvious demolition is imminent, and it’s up to us to keep an eye on the mall in the meantime. Hopefully, Texas Central will be interested in preserving some of the mall’s history in the new station.