Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mambo Seafood (Northwest Freeway)

13485 Northwest Freeway

This was built in 1993 as a Shoney's and still shows up as such in some 1995-era listings. However, Shoney's did not last long and a small addition was built to the north side of the building being recorded in 1997, likely after Shoney's closure. In 1998, it reopened as Yank Sing (possibly relocated to 2005 Mangum later). Little exists of this location on the Internet, but it was listed on this list of Chinese restaurants in America. This second incarnation appeared to have a rounded red sign from Google Earth. In 2004 ownership transferred to Mambo Seafood, which has a neat neon sign that failed to be captured in the photograph above (taken the week this was posted).

Sunday, June 24, 2018

At Home (Katy)

19411 Atrium Place

Known as Garden Ridge for many years, the original Katy "At Home" location opened as a Buyer's Market off-price shopping mall in November 1984 at the same time as a sister location close to North Houston. (As I don't have, or don't have permission to have, a proper facade picture, an ad will have to do, originally from The Houston Post and posted on HAIF)

Like many of the things we will cover, we don't know a whole lot about the Buyer's Market beyond confirmation of existence, except that from a few pictures it looked very much like Garden Ridge/At Home did, except the "store" areas had walls and names, but it, along with another location on I-45, became Garden Ridge Pottery stores soon after the closure of Buyer's Market. Louisiana and Texas Southern Malls & Retail does have information including opening, closing, and what a total failure it was. After the closure of it and the Airtex location, they became Garden Ridge Pottery's second and third Texas location (as it was known at the time) beyond its original location in Schertz, Texas. (I say Texas location because an Oklahoma location was opened in October 1985 but sold in 1987 due to a disconnect from the partnership).

One of the things about Garden Ridge was that all the way until 2015, it lacked access from Katy Freeway! This stems from the fact that originally a railroad ran between the frontage road and the parking lot. The access question was mitigated somewhat with the development of commercial businesses in the mid to late 2000s, but in the 1990s, only Foxlake crossed the railroad, and Atrium Place did not connect with Fry Road (you had to go up to Park Row to work your way back around). With weird ways to get in like this, it's no surprise that Buyer's Market was a miserable failure, and Garden Ridge nearly filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter (years before the actual filing).

From what I could find, from moving in around 1986 up until 2014, Garden Ridge Pottery (later simply "Garden Ridge") maintained headquarters here. They also had a snack bar inside the original store (nothing too special, from what I heard mostly hot dogs and other similar fare), using the restaurant facilities from Buyer's Market. While snack bars were introduced in other stores in the late 1990s, they all closed during the mid-2000s bankruptcy of Garden Ridge.

As part of the transformation into At Home in 2014, the company moved its headquarters out of the building and toward Plano, leaving a number of back offices vacant and virtually abandoned, able to wonder inside them. I didn't wonder go too deep (didn't want to get in trouble) but the store was so understaffed (the front end area was massive but only a few people there) that no one seemed to mind. Like many stores past their prime, it was both a functional store and an abandoned urban exploration site at the same time.

I'm glad I saw it when I did. Later that year, I got word that it would be closed, with the At Home being "temporarily" closed.

By late 2017, At Home rebuilt with a new store but it was 127,000 vs 269,000 square feet (though during the At Home days, that 69k square feet used for offices was vacant). There was space for an additional retail store next to it.

Better pictures can be found elsewhere, but I only have two pictures of my own, one of an older map in the offices (I tried to take a picture so it could be easily read, despite in the dark, but lightening it up didn't help it out), and one of a sealed mall entrance.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Forum at Memorial Woods

777 North Post Oak Road

This 1980s retirement home community (the smaller building next to it is a nursing home, completed shortly after the tower) is one of the "landmarks" seen by travelers coming from 290 and going toward 610 South or Interstate 10. Opened in fall 1989, it features 209 apartments and 108 nursing beds. From newspaper articles, the smaller adjacent nursing home was built as a second phase within a few years. It advertised itself as being an upscale building in the middle of everything. Here's an advertisement from those days (I believe from the Houston Post). Right-click to see larger view.

In 1996, it became part of the Marriott Senior Living Services brand and according to the Houston Chronicle, was rebranded to "The Forum at Memorial Woods, A Marriott Senior Living Community". If it ever did change names, it reverted to its original name when Marriott International sold off the Marriott Senior Living Services division, but either Sunrise or Marriott sold it off at some point, as it is not owned by Sunrise.
Above picture is by me, 2018. Advertisement was previously posted by the author at the HAIF.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Comfort Inn Houston Downtown

Common publicity shot of lobby, sourced from, which still has photos

5820 Katy Freeway

I was actually going to do something else until I found out my current iPhone USB cable no longer works(!) so here's something else, the Comfort Inn Houston Downtown. The name is a definite misnomer, as it is four miles out from downtown and just inside the Loop (it's closer to Uptown at that rate). As unfortunately, the information on the hotel is no longer via HCAD (closed in late 2011 and wrecked by early 2012 to be a new-build Hampton Inn & Suites) as it goes only to 2013, from what I've heard from that it was built as a Rodeway Inn in 1960. Both the 2002 city directory and the 2002 Days Inn directory says it was Days Inn & Suites Near the Galleria (a more accurate name than "Downtown", though this information is likely from 2001), but by January 2004 (per Erik Slotboom's video) it had become a Comfort Inn. The room count is 80 on 2 stories, and while it was directly next to a major railroad corridor, I still enjoyed myself when I stayed there in March 2008.

Google Street View from 2011