GALLERIA POST OAK
Westheimer Road and South Post Oak Boulevard
Houston, Texas

Noteworthy as the nation's first major mixed-use retail / office / hotel development, Houston's GALLERIA POST OAK was a reinvention of Milan, Italy's GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE II (1865-1877). The fully-enclosed Texan complex was situated on a 41 acre plot, 5.3 miles southwest of center city Houston. The site was adjacent to a section of the West Loop / Interstate 610 Expressway, which had opened to traffic in June 1964.

Designed by the St. Louis-based HOK (Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum) firm, GALLERIA POST OAK was built by Gerald D. Hines, a prominent Bayou City developer. The 30 million dollar project was announced to the press in May 1967. Its first operational store, Dallas-based Neiman Marcus, opened for business January 28, 1969, with the mall proper being officially dedicated November 16, 1970.

Originally enveloping 600,000 leasable square feet, the tri-level structure was anchored by the aforementioned 4-level (224,000 square foot) Neiman Marcus (the chain's largest store). The Galleria Cinema I & II was located on the first level of the center, along with an 84 x 100 foot Polar Ice skating rink. A multilevel parking garage was included on the south end of the structure. The adjacent (400 room) Houston Oaks Hotel was completed in September 1971.

Inline stores and services in the first stage mall included Tiffany & Company, Mark Cross leather goods, Isabell Gerhart, Oshman's Sporting Goods, the Interface Counseling Center and the Sotheby-Park Bernet art dealers. Among the many restaurants were El Fenix, The Best of the Wurst, The Doggone Burger and The Coquetry. The complex also housed a running track and the University Club, which had ten indoor tennis courts.

GALLERIA POST OAK had several shopping malls in its vicinity. These included MEYERLAND PLAZA (1957) {3.3 miles south, in Houston}, SHARPSTOWN CENTER (1961) {3.7 miles southwest, in Houston}, MEMORIAL CITY MALL (1966) {5.3 miles northwest, in Houston} and NORTHWEST MALL (1968) {4 miles north, in Houston}. However, within a few years of its opening, GALLERIA POST OAK was so firmly established as the preeminent shopping mall in Houston that these centers provided no competition.

A second construction phase, referred to as GALLERIA II, was formally announced in November 1972, with construction getting underway in 1975. This 2-level segment, built over a parking garage, added 449,700 leasable square feet to the west of the existing shopping center.

GALLERIA II was dedicated June 17, 1977 and featured a 2-level (67,500 square foot) Lord & Taylor, Ted Lapidus, Carrano, Caruggi, Casual Corner, J. Harris, Galleria Financial Center offices, the (500 room) Galleria Plaza Hotel, Galleria Cinemas III & IV and a second parking garage. A 2-level (30,000 square foot) San Antonio-based Frost Brothers was dedicated in the fall of 1978.

By the time GALLERIA II was completed, the complex was being referred to as simply THE GALLERIA, with the "POST OAK" designation having fallen out of use. A 2-level (185,000 square foot) Marshall Field & Company was dedicated November 9, 1979. It was the first "Southland" store in the Chicago-based chain.

The third phase of the shopping hub, GALLERIA III, was officially dedicated September 24, 1986. This 2-level addition, also built atop a parking deck, encompassed 328,000 leasable square feet and included a 2-level (232,000 square foot) Macy's. Frost Brothers was shuttered in 1986, with the store being sectioned into smaller retail spaces. In 1996, Marshall Field's closed their GALLERIA store, which re-opened, as a Saks Fifth Avenue, September 11, 1997.

Beginning in 1999, the controlling interest in the sprawling complex changed four times, with the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group prevailing, with majority ownership interest, in early 2002.

A fourth construction phase, known as GALLERIA IV, had been announced in May 2000. It would be built on an adjacent 14 acre parcel and encompass 2 levels and 800,000 leasable square feet. Connected via skybridge to the existing GALLERIA, the expansion would be anchored by a 2-level (250,000 square foot), Houston-based Foleys's and 2-level (226,000 square foot), Seattle-based Nordstrom.

The GALLERIA IV addition opened for business March 28, 2003. The shopping hub now encompassed 2,399,000 leasable square feet, with over three hundred and seventy-five stores and services.

In January 2005, Lord & Taylor was shuttered. The building was gutted and renovated into twelve retail spaces, including Borders Books, Del Frisco Steak House, Oceanaire Seafood Room and Kona Grill. These began business in August 2006. On September 9, Foley's was "Macy-ated". The mall's original (circa-1986) Macy's became "Macy's at Sage".

In September 2013, news surfaced of a major reconfiguration of THE GALLERIA. Macy's At Sage closed its doors May 4, 2014. Following this, the GALLERIA III section and Macy's At Sage structures were demolished.

Saks (in the GALLERIA II section) relocated into a newly-built, 2-level (198,000 square foot) building. Its original space was gutted and sectioned into thirty-five inline stores and two casual dining restaurants. The new Saks commenced operation on April 28, 2016, with the dedication of new stores in the old Saks structure occurring in 2017.

By this time, a three hundred-unit "luxury residential high-rise", built on the old Macy's at Sage site, was nearing completion. With all of the recent modifications, the size of THE GALLERIA was slightly reduced. The complex now encompassed approximately 2,123,000 leasable square feet.

Sources:

"Houston Galleria" article on Wikipedia
"Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II" article on Wikipedia
Harris County, Texas tax assessor website
Information and photos from "Jonah Norason"
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)
Comment posts by "Anonymous"
The Houston Chronicle
The Boca Raton News
The Victoria (Texas) Advocate
Texas Monthly magazine