NORTH STAR MALL
San Pedro Avenue and West Rector Road
San Antonio, Texas

NORTH STAR MALL was the fourth regional retail hub built by Maryland's James W. Rouse Company and the third endeavor of its Community Research & Development Corporation subsidiary. The complex occupied a 53.9 acre tract, located 9 miles north of downtown San Antonio. The site was adjacent to a newly-completed stretch of the "Loop 13" Expressway (later known as "Loop I-410 / John Connally Loop").

The fully-enclosed shopopolis held its official grand opening September 23, 1960. It encompassed 339,000 leasable square feet and housed forty-eight stores and services. The center's sole anchor was a 2-level (81,800 square foot), San Antonio-based Wolff & Marx department store.

The original tenant list included Walgreen Drug, Western Auto, Luby's Cafeteria, Lerner Shops, Singer Sewing Center, Pet Pantry, National Shirt Shops, an H-E-B (Howard E. Butt) supermarket and S.S. Kresge 5 & 10. The complex featured wooden trellis ceiling treatments, fountains and a bird aviary.

Construction commenced on an eastward expansion in February 1963, with the project being completed in October 1964. A large court area now fronted on a 2-level (93,600 square foot), San Antonio-based, Frost Brothers. The existing Wolff & Marx has also been enlarged into a 100,000 square foot structure.

NORTH STAR MALL now encompassed approximately 453,600 leasable square feet, with a directory of seventy-five stores and services. New tenants included Cullum & Boren, Mr. Dunderbak's Bavarian Pantry, Flagg Brothers Shoes and Parklane Hosiery.

On December 25, 1964, the General Cinema Corporation Cinema I & II North Star Mall showed its first features. The theater extended from the new eastward addition, but was not accessible from the interior mallway. It increased the center's GLA to approximately 472,300 square feet.

CENTRAL PARK MALL became a primary competitor in 1968. This complex was built on a parcel west of NORTH STAR MALL. Other shopping hubs in the vicinity included WONDERLAND SHOPPING CITY (1961) {3.5 miles southwest, in Balcones Heights}, McCRELESS SHOPPING CITY (1962-2007) {9.4 miles south, in San Antonio}, INGRAM PARK MALL (1979) {8 miles southwest, in San Antonio} and ROLLING OAKS MALL (1988) {9.9 miles northeast, also in San Antonio}.

A second eastern addition to NORTH STAR MALL, the Phase III / "La Fuente Del Sol" expansion, was completed in 1970. The mallway was built over to a 5-level (204,000 square foot), San Antonio-based Joske's, which had opened in 1969. Stores such as Todd Men's, Leon's Women's Wear, Russell Stover Candies and Chandler's Shoes joined the retail roster. NORTH STAR MALL now encompassed approximately 728,200 leasable square feet and ninety-three store spaces.

The existing twin cinema was incorporated into the enclosed mall at this time and a 2-level parking deck built in the southeast corner of the site. In 1970, Wolff & Marx came under the (Phoenix-based) Rhodes Southwest banner, which was rebranded as Liberty House / Rhodes a few years later. The store became a full-fledged Liberty House on August 8, 1977.

The next renovation of the complex took place in 1980-1981, when the H-E-B supermarket and Walgreen Drug, on the west end, were razed and replaced with a 3-level (204,000 square foot), Houston-based, Foley's. This store held its grand opening in the summer of 1981.

In 1982, three court areas were installed in a vacated Liberty House space. The first, known as the Star Court, occupied the building's main level and was flanked by stores such as Brook's Fashions, Montalvo's, Mission Jewelry and Jade Tree Oriental Furniture. It appears that the mall's first Food Court was also situated in this area.

The basement level of the building was refitted as the Music Court, which included a record store, musical instrument store, Expensive Toys for Big Boys and an Oshman's Sporting Goods. A parking garage, at the northeast corner of the mall, was also completed in 1983.

The fourth addition to NORTH STAR MALL was built in the mid-1980s. Northeast and Northwest Wings were added to the existing structure. A 2-level (104,000 square foot) Saks Fifth Avenue opened for business in the fall of 1985, followed by a 3-level (178,000 square foot) Marshall Field's, which was dedicated in October 1986. Both stores were situated at the end of new, 2-level concourses, with the Marshall Field's / Northwest Wing including a 14-bay Food Court; the second culinary complex to operate in the mall.

A third parking structure was built at the northwest corner of the complex. Moreover, the Foley's store was enlarged to 256,000 square feet, via a northward extension. A shuttered cinema was gutted and made into expanded store space.

With these additions, the mall encompassed 1,260,000 leasable square feet and over two hundred stores and services. A fourth parking structure was added to the southwest corner of the complex in the early 1990s.

Several anchor store changes occurred over the years. Joske's was rebranded as a Dillard's in April 1987. In mid-1989, Frost Brothers was liquidated. Its former store space became a Mervyn's on October 25, 1992. January 1997 brought the shuttering of Marshall Field's, which re-opened, as a Macy's, June 6, 1997. This store's liquidation sale commenced in July 2005.

Ownership of the mall also changed over the decades. The Rouse Company sold a 63 percent share to Holland-based Rodamco in 1974. An additional 32 percent share was acquired by Rodamco in the year 2000. In early 2002, the Rouse Company repurchased the 95 percent share of the mall and reestablished full ownership. Chicago-based General Growth Properties purchased the Rouse Company in 2004 and, in the process, assumed full ownership of NORTH STAR MALL.

In 2004, GGP announced a major refurbishment of the center, which was concluded in 2005. The renovation included soft seating for common areas, as well as new tile flooring, landscaping, ceilings and exterior entrances. The Food Court was also given an upgrade. Macy's returned to NORTH STAR MALL with the rebranding of Foley's, which transpired on September 9, 2006. J.C. Penney opened a store in the old Marshall Field's / Macy's location July 29, 2007.

The most recent anchor alteration involved the shuttering of Mervyn's in December 2008. The vacant building and a strip of inline stores running along its north side were rebuilt into eight new retail spaces. Los Angeles-based Forever 21 opened a 2-level (80,900 spare foot) operation in the largest space on August 28, 2010. The remaining slots were taken by Aldo Shoes, Guess Accessories, Vera Bradley, Guess by Marciano, Cache', Sunglass Hut and Marble Slab Creamery.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.do
Bexar County, Texas Tax Assessor website
Comment posts by Randy and "Jonah Norason"
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.mysanantonio.com
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)