Odessa, Texas, home to nearly 100,000 residents, is located in a flat, dry area of West Texas, known for ranching and oil. Along with its neighbor directly to the east, Midland, Odessa shares a sub-region of West Texas known as the Permian Basin, a mostly flat area of plains, rich in both petroleum deposits and the boom-to-bust-to-boom economy that comes with it.
Today, around 266,000 people live in the Midland-Odessa Metropolitan Area. Isolated from other major cities in Texas, folks in the region must travel between four and five hours to reach either El Paso to the west, or the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to the east. Other, smaller regional hubs are a bit closer: San Angelo, Lubbock, and Abilene, Texas, are all about two hours away.
Two super-regional malls exist in Midland and Odessa today: Odessa’s Music City Mall and Midland’s Midland Park Mall. Much like Midland and Odessa are twin cities, their malls also share similarities. Both malls offer Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Sears, both opened in 1980, and both malls weren’t the first in their respective city.
Music City Mall, located on the northeast side of Odessa, along Highway 191 and kitty-corner to the University of Texas – Permian Basin, opened in 1980 as Permian Mall. Just as Midland’s Midland Park Mall wasn’t the first mall in Midland, Permian Mall wasn’t Odessa’s first enclosed mall. The much smaller Winwood Mall, located a few hundred feet to the west, predated it by several years. Winwood opened in 1973 and was anchored by a movie theatre, Woolco, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney, the latter of which moved to Permian Mall when it opened. An undated photo of an entrance of Winwood Mall is located here. Is this photo the interior of Winwood Mall? (It’s not labeled.) Today, Winwood Mall is called Winwood Town Center, and has been transformed from enclosed mall into a row of both Big Box and smaller stores in typical strip-mall fashion. Major retailers at today’s Winwood Town Center include Texas-based HEB (grocery), Ross Dress For Less, Michaels, Hastings, and Target. When did the original Winwood close? When was it demolished?
At some point, Permian Mall was renamed Music City Mall to capitalize on the fact that it houses three stages for live entertainment, which takes place mostly during weekends. In terms of size and layout, Music City Mall has 750,000 square-feet of retail space on one level, and the layout of the mall is a basic zig-zag with anchors at each turn. Current anchors include JCPenney, Dillards, Burlington Coat Factory, and Sears, as well as an 11-screen movie theater. Burlington Coat Factory is somewhat new to the Music City scene, replacing a Mervyn’s that closed in the 2000s.
Music City Mall, while slightly larger than Midland’s Midland Park Mall, has not enjoyed the same level of success, nor does it have the same caliber of in-line stores. In addition to several notable vacancies, one wing of Music City Mall is flanked by a local television station. The remainer of the 750,000 square-foot mall contains a high number of local stores versus national chains, which is generally undesirable in regional malls today. In contrast, Midland Park Mall has many typical national chains such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle, and Buckle. However, Music City Mall does have the corner on live performance venues as well as the only ice rink facility within a 300-mile radius. In addition, Music City Mall also has a food court; yet, much like the rest of the mall, the food court contains many local vendors instead of national chain food outlets.
Also unique to Music City Mall is this somewhat large display of the Bible’s Ten Commandments, seen here in 2009:
An audience of chairs was placed facing the Ten Commandments, inviting mall patrons to sit and relax while viewing the display, which was roped off so people can’t get too close. Is it still there? Is this a permanent fixture of the mall, or was it some sort of temporary exhibition? I’ve never seen anything like it in any other mall, and it was interesting to say the least. It sort of reminds me of the praying hands sculpture at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, in terms of religious public art. I think that’s what they were going for, at least?
I visited Music City Mall in November 2009 and took the pictures featured on this page. Please feel free to leave any comments or observations you have, and help us fill in the retail history of Midland and Odessa.
Pictures from November 2009: