Almeda Mall; Houston, Texas

Almeda Mall Foley's in Houston, Texas

Some of you may have heard about an accolade we’ve had around here that we’re pretty excited about. You see, despite being a relatively little-known blog about esoteric retail subjects, Time Magazine saw fit to name us their Person of the Year for 2006, which is quite an honor. We’re pretty psyched, even if we do have to share this highest of honors with six billion other people.

In the spirit of Time’s award–which is really about user-generated content such as this blog here–I’m going to hand the reins over to one of our readers for this post. John Espiau sent us these photos and this history of the Almeda Mall in Houston, which seems to be dying a rapid death these days:

Almeda mall opened in 1966 with Foley’s and JCPenney’s as anchors. Almeda mall boasts 807,000 sq feet of retail space.
The Almeda Mall was recently put up for sale along with its twin Northwest mall on the other side of Houston. In 2005 Almeda mall had JCPenney’s, Foley’s, Palais Royal, Anna’s Linens, Steve and Barry’s sportsware, and Ross as anchors along with a 95% occupancy.
This mall has a very outdated look and has not been renovated in a while. One look at the retro 70’s style Piccadilly Cafeteria brings a sense of nostalgia not normally seen in modern malls. In 2006 JCPenney’s started a going out of business sale to move to Pasadena, just 5 years ago this location was ranked first in Houston area sales. Foley’s converted to Macy’s and only changed the stores signs and not much else. WalMart opened up a new location just down the street and the retail space around the supercenter is exploding with growth. Circuit City moved from its location near the mall, Hancock Fabrics closed, Office Depot closed, Payless moved, K-Mart closed, and Best Buy has announced it will move in the next year as well leaving only Target (Outdated as well) and LaCanasita electronics behind. Traffic inside the mall has decreased since the WalMart opened and now some of the stores inside are leaving as well. This mall is on a prime location with excellent visibility from I-45 and a huge population base to draw from. The new owners of the property (Glimcher Realty Trust) should tear the mall down and turn it into a big box power center with Macy’s, Ross, Palais Royal, and Super Target as anchors. This mall is a trip back in time so go see it before it goes just like its former neighboring mall Gulfgate.

I’m not sure I agree with John that it should be de-malled, but heck, I rarely think anything should be de-malled. I haven’t been, so I can’t offer much commentary on the place to go along with what John has to say–so if you’ve been around to the Almeda Mall, pipe up! What’s it like? And, what does it look like INSIDE? I found the below (relatively unhelpful) pictures from this outdated leasing PDF, and there are some more on the current Glimcher PDF, but that’s all I have to go on.

36 Responses to “Almeda Mall; Houston, Texas”

  1. Classic old JCPenney, if nothing else.

    That Macy’s looks like it could have been a Sanger-Harris at some point wilth all the arches out front.

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  2. Definitely a dated mall! The exteriors around Penney’s and Macy’s definately look dated without a doubt. The Sbarro red neon sign, instead of the typical red, white, and green sign, is interesting, too.

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  3. I’ve been to this mall, but it was many many years ago. We visited during a childhood family vacation to visit Astroworld (R.I.P.) in Houston. I remember very little about the mall because it seemed that everything was closed. I believe that we just went there to eat at the Piccadilly Cafeteria on a Sunday and the mall stores were closed. Despite that, I remember walking through at least part of the mall and thinking that it was a nice place at the time.

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  4. Those brick walkways must’ve been a pain on the feet and a bit rough on the baby carriages though.

    well…..

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  5. Hey…this was MY mall! Foley’s has always been Foley’s, that is until the Macy’s debacle.

    Yeah….it’s old and tired, but back in the day it was “da-bomb”.
    Just a victim of changing demographics and tastes.

    Then again, I remember the days when Post Oak near the Galleria was premier shopping…..for that matter, I remember shopping at the Galleria befor Galleria 1,2,3,4 or 5…

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  6. yeah but walking on bricks CAN BE uncomfortable after a couple of times.

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  7. […] Mark: yeah but walking on bricks CAN BE uncomfortable after a couple of times. […]

  8. I have heard that the mall was recently sold and the new owners are going to do a total renovation in the next couple of years.

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  9. The thing I loved about Almeda Mall was it looks so classic just like an old mall I used to frequent in my childhood. If anything Almeda should do all it can to get someone like a Dillards Clearance Center or something to move into the old Penny Bldg. I would hate to see that mall end up like Northwest Mall, without its classic Piccadilly!!!!

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  10. Also Malls were places just to hang out. A rendezvous place, shelter from the heat, etc. My mall (Gulfgate) which was the first mall in Houston in 64′ or 65′ I believe, was turned into a shopping center. Not the same thing as a mall whatsoever! try hanging out at HEB Pantry Food Store for 8 hrs. or so without looking suspicious. That goes for the other neighboring stores like Old Navy, Ross, etc. I’ve only been to the Galleria 2 times and both times were hectic. Too many people, too much traffic, and too far from me. If they tear down Almeda Mall which has been my new adopted mall after the demise of Gulfgate, the next mall in succession will be either Baybrook Mall or Pasadena Town Square. I think I would prefer the Town Square too many snobby people in the Baybrook area. I loved Gulfgate so much especially going to the movies there with my pals (General Cinema I, II, III, IV). Crossing the bridge that led from the mall to the Cinema was always an adventure for us, we would spit at the cars driving by underneath on the freeway. Those were the days.

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  11. I’ve been to this mall more times than I can count. I was just there two weeks ago and it was pretty depressing. However, there is a lot of traffic and a lot of stores. I’m not sure how well the sales are, but it looks like they can’t be too bad. The main problems besides the mall’s outdated look and feel is crime and dirt. There have been a lot of burglaries and several violent crimes (mostly between rival gangs) over the past decade. One guy even exposed himself about ten years ago near one of the fountains. The restaurants have had major health violations. Piccadilly had mice in the kitchen a few years ago. About six months after that, they had to throw away 212 pounds of food because it was highly undertemperature. The Thirsty’s in the food court was reusing plastic utensils for awhile too. The JC Penney moved to Baybrook mall, leaving a giant gap in the back of the mall, next to KB Toys, which is surprisingly still there since the Baybrook location closed down about 6 months ago after a long tenure. I don’t think Almeda is going anywhere anytime soon, but it could use a major remodeling, cleaning, and more security. By the way, I remember riding on the brick floor in my stroller when I was a toddler. It was brutal! I can remember hoping and praying that my parents would go into a store so I could ride on a smooth floor.

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  12. The mall is still there with mediocre traffic. I’m guessing a 65% occupancy. It’s crappy, it’s outdated, it’s a little creepy, but hey, it’s nostalgic. I’ll snap some pictures for you guys.

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  13. I lived in webster for a couple of years. When I first moved there, the almeda mall was the first mall I found in the area that had a JCPenney. Baybrook had no built one yet. So i would go to the almeda mall to go to the jcpenney. It is an old looking mall. But back then ( about 2003-2004), i was surprised to see how many stores were opened there. I’m sure it has been declining since the boom of gulfgate shopping center and the opening of the nearby wal mart. But for me going into that mall was like going back in time. Stuff we take for granted these days, was actually seen as the very latest in shopping.

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  14. Say what you will , my friends and i use to skate in this mall and meet lots of girls here , we had alot of fun in th 80’s . I remember spending alot of time at the goldmine , it was an arcade , no mater what happens now I have to say, thank you Almeda Mall for the memories . Go Trojans .

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  15. A brief history of Houston malls.

    Almeda Mall and Northwest Mall in Houston were constructed in the early 60’s at opposite ends of the city. Both malls lost their JCPenney anchor in the past 6 years. The two malls are nearly identical to each other in size and design, and they are located in or near low income communities. With a short mall concourse and space for only two large anchors these two malls are likely to wither away in the next 5 years as the economy and bankruptcies take its toll on small malls. Houston is also overmalled and has lost 5 malls (6 if you include Galvez mall in Galveston) since 1996 to closure or redevelopment. Gulfgate, Northline, Westwood, Town and Country and Meyerland have all closed and only Town and Country was a large mall. Greenspoint, Pasadena Town Square, Mall of the Mainland, San Jacinto, Almeda, Northwest and Sharpstown have a dwindling store occupancy and can be considered dying malls. Deerbrook, Willowbrook, The Galleria, Memorial City, Katy Mills, Baybrook, West Oaks, Houston Center, Woodlands, and First Colony are healthy and prosperous. Westwood and Town and Country opened up close to another mall and neither one succeeded longer than 20 years. The two older malls Sharpstown and Memorial City defeated the above nearby rivalseven though Sharpstown is losing tenants rapidly. Houston premium outlets, Woodlands Market street and Pearland town center have opened up as outdoor malls. Woodlands mall and First Colony have added outdoor additions to their malls to compete with the newer style malls.

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  16. This mall is about 15 or 20 minutes north of Baybrook Mall. Almeda Mall is very old and hasn’t been updated in many years. The last time I was in this mall, which was about 10 years ago, it was tired looking and rather dimly lit. But it did have quite a few stores open and a fair amount of traffic. It is in a very good location, a highly populated area. Only trouble is, it is also a crime infested area.. lots of gang activity.

    I believe if the owners would put some money into it and revamp the place, it could survive several more years. But without some needed renovations, it’ll probably die in the next couple of years. Sad.

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  17. I work at the Palais Royal from August of 1999 to May of 2001. I loved it!! A lot of memories.

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  18. The mall did well for the hurricane and has reopened, the area had a good amount of wind damage.

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  19. This mall is old and tied now and definitely needs a facelift. When I was a kid in the 70’s it was THE mall to shop at on the south side of Houston until Baybrook opened in 1979. Since that time it has been dying a slow death. It lost some of it’s anchors in the late 80’s and early 90’s but some how has managed to hang on at times seemingly on life support. I think this is largely because it is in a very urban area that is 10-12+ miles away in any direction from any of the other large supermalls like Baybrook or the Galleria, making it just convenient enough for locals to do their regular shopping their year round and leave the trips to the big malls for special events like Christmas. It also has managed to this by somehow keeping a Macy’s (formerly Foley’s) around and attracting large discount stores like Ross. It also has the distinct advantage over some of the failing malls like Mall of the Mainland of having a very dense local population, well over 150,000 people within a 5 mi. radius and being right on the evening commute path for another 250,000 or so people who live in the NASA/Clear Lake/ Galveston corridor and work in Houston… for them Baybrook may have more options and be closer to home, but Almeda is a quick and easy convenience some times to stop in and grab something you need when you don’t want to fight the parking, traffic, and crowds at Baybrook. I lived in the Clear Lake area for several years and worked in Houston and frequented the mall in just this sort of manner, especially when shopping for birthdays and anniversaries…. Almeda may be a bit worn around the edges these days but still has just enough of the right stores and enough convenience to survive as an urban “local” mall in the age of the regional supermalls.

    If you’re there and have a few moments, might want to stop by. Nothing spectacular anymore, but scrappy and alive and kick’en just like the working class blue collar neighborhood it resides in.

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  20. Went to Almeda mall yesterday, there were a lot of Ike victims there for some FEMA business, the place smelled HORRIBLE (like diaper) in some areas. Can’t really say where because it’s my first trip to the mall since 2001. Macy’s appears to be empty. The “Toyz” (or whatever the heck it was called) store had NUMEROUS Chinese bootleg toys. DON’T PURCHASE ANYTHING THERE. The food court looked kinda gross. The Almeda Mall looked more dead than Mainland Mall. Went to the neighboring Target afterwards… everything was in Spanish in there and they still had neon lights! XD

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  21. The Macy’s stores at Almeda Mall and Northwest Mall have both closed due to damage from Hurricane Ike. The Macy’s at Deerbrook Mall is also closed due to damage, but will most likely reopen once repairs can be made.

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  22. MACY’S at Almeda, Northwest and Deerbrook have been damaged from Hurricane Ike. The thing is that the ONLY one store will not be reopening it is Northwest Mall, Deerbrook will reopen as so will Almeda (shocking). At Almeda it is projected for that store to reopen until July 09 if that’s the case the store is likely to have major rennovations.

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  23. How can you talk about he good old days of Almeda mall and not mention Woolsworth? There is no place where you can get a hamburger and shake like that anymore. I remember back in the 70s JC Penneys sold record alboms and toys. Foleys had this giant boat you could play on in the kids shoe department (and the little boys fitting room smelled like pee-pee). Also there was the T-shirt shop where I got all my Star Wars t-shirts. You picked out your iron-on and then what color shirt you wanted it on and watched them make it. And they had that giant fountain where you threw your penny in and made a wish. There was Santa Claus with the train that you could ride on during the Christmas season. Down the road there was Best with it’s broken wall. I wish there were still places like that where you actually made memories when you went shopping instead of spending the whole time avoiding the Kiosk Zombies.

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    Bernard Reply:

    @Everett,
    I remember that train! Definately good memories back in the late 70’s.

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  24. i am so glad almeda is going to reopen very convenient for several people who dont like alot of traffic, or shop where there are long lines of waiting to be assisted. i will spend all my money at almeda!s macys thank yoiu very much for reopening

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  25. ok so im working at Almeda temporarily for the month of january to help out one of our stores, and ws there in Novembr working as well. There is barely any traffic in the mall, all the big stores are closed, and not only does it look old but its not well taken care of. and the bathrooms are ALWAYS disgusting . not really sure where the maintenance team is. ever.

    Macy’s is still closed, jc penneys is gone, steve and barrys is closed now too…the food court only consists of like 5 things- taco bell, a gyro/burger place, thirsty’s, sbarro, and a knockoff of china wok, (except yes, the piccadillys is lovely). oh and wait…they have a great american cookie company!!
    The only thing still open in that mall are shoe stores. If you want shoes, this place is perfect. Theres foot locker, foot action, champs, journeys, lady-foot locker, foot this, foot that….but besides that theres just like 300 wireless booths with accessories for cell phones, a store called “Belts of the World” (??), a gift shop, a store called Bigg City (if you want an oh-so-pimpin throwback oilers jersey or a shirt that says Made in Screwston on it…) and an airbrushing place that will uh, airbrush your brand new Jordans? or something?
    yeah.
    not so much.

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  26. A new anchor is going to open in the old JCPenney spot. Click on my name to see my blog and an update on this mall.

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  27. Almeda was my mall growing up in the 70s and 80s. I worked in Chick-fil-a from 86-88, which was almost next door to Pic-a-dilly. I heard it closed a couple of years later. I have alot of memories of this mall, and I haven’t been there since the late 80’s. Mainly I remember the Chick-fil-A store owner would tell us good night at 8pm, then sometimes walk around the mall and hide behind the big tree in the middle of the mall to spy on us. He thought we couldn’t see him- haha. Oh, somebody has to mention there was a Farrell’s Ice Cream shop that was like an ice cream restaurant. It was always fun to go there.

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    Natalie Reply:

    @Troy T, : I used to work at Chick-Fil-A in 1986 as well – I think that is when it was. I had to wear that stupid chicken costume and pass out samples of chicken to everyone! I remember Farrell’s Ice Cream place. That was the best! I drove past the Almeda mall in 2006 and it looks run down! It was sad to see. However, the memories are great!

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    Rich Reply:

    @Natalie, I worked at chic fil a in 1980, but escaped the chicken suit thankfully. It smelled. No one mentioned the great hangout the Goldmine.

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  28. Here are a lot of great links about Almeda.

    http://southernretail.blogspot.com/2009/05/almeda-mall-may-09-2009-update-to.html
    John’s update to the Labelscar post.

    http://southernretail.blogspot.com/2009/07/big-news-at-almeda-mall.html
    Another link of Almeda Mall of John’s. Includes interiors.

    http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/index.php?showtopic=16626&mode=threaded
    Everything you ever wanted to know about Almeda’s history is here.

    http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2007/07/30/story8.html
    A proposed plan to de-mall Almeda Mall.

    Also, the Macy’s (old Foley’s) remodeled and reopened after nearly a year of Hurricane Ike, but now its now only one level.

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  29. Is Northwest still a viable mall? Found an online directory of that mall, still has Macy’s open. Looks like very few national chains, just cheap M&P stores. With a nearby high school called a “dropout factory”, is crime a major problem?

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    Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D) Reply:

    Shrug. As far as I know, Macy’s is in limbo.

    It was a low-end Foley’s before that and the Macy’s conversion did little more besides a new faceplate and different low-end merchandise.

    Hurricane Ike hit in Sept/08, and it was closed due to leaks. Macy’s soon announced that Almeda would renovate and reopen, but not Northwest. A store closing list released the following January did not axe Northwest however. The last time I checked (June), it was still closed but had the Macy’s brand on the outside.

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  30. If anyone is still interested…..Almeda Mall is still kickin, not butt , but still alive. It’s clean and security is very present. Personally, I don’t shop there; I can’t afford to shop anywhere. However, I find it a great place to walk for exercise. Many people do. There are usually more walkers than shoppers. So, I hope the plan to keep it open is still alive.

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  31. I have very vague memories of Almeda Mall back from my childhood in the early and mid 70’s, mostly told to me by my parents. We lived in Freeport, down on the coast, and back before the days of Brazos Mall (in Lake Jackson) we would every so often make a special trip up the old Hwy 288 to go to Almeda Mall. (Almeda was the mall of choice due to it’s close proximity to 288.) I don’t recall much from the inside of the mall, but I do remember the Foley’s arches outside having an inlay of Robins Egg blue color. Seeing those was how I knew I could stop saying, “Are we there yet??” Apparently Almeda was the cat’s meow back then.

    One thing I do recall is that a trip to Houston and Almeda was a very big deal for my older brother and I. The trip always coincided with Red Lobster’s all-you-could-eat popcorn shrimp special. I remember at one visit the waitress getting so ticked off because she kept on having to go back for more shrimp for my brother.

    Good times.

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  32. I currently work at Almeda Mall. This place is definitely dying. I can remember coming here in the early 90s with my parents when I was a young’n. The whole area around the mall is low income. Most of the clientel are black and hispanic. If you don’t have an array of tattoos covering 70% of your body and or don’t wear excessive, gaudy jewelry, you’re going to feel out of place. The mall seems physically clean, but it’s definitely dated and there doesn’t seem to be any plans to update it. Security guards are omnipresent. The maintenace employees and employees at the other stores are very friendly. Picadilly is still there and it’s a great alternative to the food court. I tend to eat there on my lunch break. Can’t beat the $4.99 dinner! A lot of elderly caucasion folks(propbably people who’ve lived in the area since the 1960s and never left) use the mall for exercise as well as sit in the food court for several hours sipping coffee from Sesame Hut – a ma and pa quasi-Chinese food joint. Currently in the food court there is: Great American Cookies(i don’t see how they stay in business), Thirstys, Villa Pizza(formerly Sbarro), a Taco Bell/KFC, Sam’s Burgers and Gyro, an independent ice cream shop and the Sesame Hut as well as a Cricket Wireless(yes, in the food court). The Macy’s is beautiful inside and frankly, it’s only thing Almeda has going for it. In a word, Alemda is..ghetto.

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