Monday, February 10, 2014

Northwest Freeway Center

This post is being worked on. Come back later.

12001-12047 Northwest Freeway
6417-6455 West 43rd Street

While this post was originally posted in 2014, this post was extensively re-worked in June 2018 with my new pictures from that month. This shopping center began construction in September 1993 as the Northwest Freeway Center (though it was never referred to as such), a $10.5 million 247,000 square foot shopping center developed by Smith & Co. with Tom Moughon of Resource Development Group. The land (18 acres) was acquired that same year from Vickers Trust. The main anchors, a 104,800 square foot Venture discount department store and a 51,252 square foot Service Merchandise store were to open in July 1994. By 1995, a second phase was built facing Northwest Freeway but with 43rd Street addresses, anchored by Toys R Us.

Sadly, time didn't go so well for the center, and even by 2008 it became very run-down.

Venture (12005 Northwest Freeway) sold its unprofitable store to Kmart in 1997, which opened in 1998 as a Big Kmart, replacing a store at 34th Street (torn down for a Randalls, which closed earlier this year). The Big Kmart landed itself on Kmart's closing list in January 2003, which saw the chain leave most of Texas. It later became Burlington Coat Factory with departments like Baby Depot, and eventually rebranded as Burlington (sometime around early 2018 or late 2017). Burlington (Coat Factory) didn't use all the space, that went to "Affordable Furniture".

Service Merchandise (12009 Northwest Freeway) was either closed between 1999 or 2002, but it sat vacant for at least several years (almost, or more than) a decade. In 2011 it became a Joe V's Smart Shop, a discount grocery format for H-E-B. This is kind of an interesting choice. Joe V's is a bit disliked as a format as it goes into low-end neighborhoods where H-E-B doesn't want to build full-line stores (even C-grade H-E-B stores), namely areas where H-E-B had promised they'd build 10+ years ago, but didn't (a store on the Southwest Beltway is an example of this). This Joe V's is the first of its kind to wedge itself into a strip mall. I can say with 95% confidence that they were not planning on an H-E-B here originally. Note my picture shows the facade as largely brown, this was recent, for at least the first five years after opening, Joe V's had a large red facade. The Service Merchandise facade was much more interesting and looked like a real department store, with a brick entrance and a red arch over the entrance (presumably glowing red at night). This I don't have a ready picture of, but you can see it on the older Google Street Views and similar Service Merchandise facades.

Petco (12017 Northwest Freeway), here since 2001, possibly since the 1990s. It did change logos at one point from the old, full bolded PETCO logo to the modern, lower-case one.

Starbucks Coffee (12035 Northwest Fwy)

C&S Chinese Cafe (12047 Northwest Fwy.) was the last of the tenants at the south end of the strip that was torn down in the early to mid-2010s.

Blimpie Subs & Salads (12043 Northwest Freeway) - Listed in lieu of Red Onion in 2001 (Starbucks isn't there, but C&S and Old Towne are). Likely closed within a few years afterward.

Red Onion Seafood y Mas (12041 Northwest Fwy.) was a sister restaurant to the now-defunct Cafe Red Onion down Northwest Freeway. It was also razed.

Old Towne Kolaches (12037 Northwest Freeway), I believe OTK was used for the expansion of Starbucks and its new drive-through, everything beyond it was torn down.



A Toys R Us was added shortly thereafter, but it became Fallas Discount Store (Fallas Paredes), while Service presumably collapsed in bankruptcy (likely 1999, but it's possible it stuck around 2002) and sat vacant until Joe V's Smart Shop filled in around 2011.