Howdy folks, today we’re looking at a few old-ish photos featuring the Stafford Bed Bath & Beyond shutdown. While this is primarily a photo dump, this shopping center has quite a fascinating history. As someone who grew up in Fort Bend County, I vividly remember the excitement behind the opening of “The Fountains on the Lake.” The center was started in late 1995, at a point where development was already almost complete on every corner around the open parcel of land. The site had been purchased in the 1940s by Aron Gordon for use as farmland. The Gordon family already owned a giant field across the then-unbuilt U.S. 59. While the Gordons did use the land to grow cotton, they were not attached to it, and news of the impending path of the Southwest Freeway would cause the family to sell most of their land North of the freeway to Texas Instruments. This was no significant loss, however, as the family’s primary source of income wasn’t farming but rather the Gordon’s Jewelers. Even with responsibilities at the company, the forward-thinking Aron would hang onto his land for years, turning down offer after offer for the land, mostly letting it lay fallow as construction rose around the empty parcel.
In 1995, the first concrete rumblings of development for this tract of land were published. Early speculation included that Gordon may sell the land to a developer or that possibly some sort of big box retail operation would take up the majority of the land. However, what Gordon had in mind was a master plan. He would develop a heavily themed mixed-used shopping and entertainment district to attract prospective customers. Gordon’s project involved attracting new and upcoming retailers, which showed promise as major anchors, and small mall-style boutique shops to fill in the spaces in between. The original anchors included Bed Bath & Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Stein Mart, Oshamn’s, Borders, and a Cinemark movie theater, which would be replaced by Loew’s shortly before construction began. The idea was solid, even though critics worried that Fort Bend County was on the verge of being “overstored” then. The Fountain’s position next to the county line ensured a steady stream of traffic. For the most part, each of the listed anchors (or their descendants) made it to the end of their company before closing. BB&B even saw enough promise to open a World Market and Buy Buy Baby in the former Office Max around 2019. As of 2023, the center remains mostly leased and doing good business.