MEYERLAND PLAZA
Beechnut Street and Endicott Lane
Houston, Texas

The second mall-type shopping center in Houston was built as the centerpiece of a two thousand seven hundred-unit housing development, known as Meyerland. MEYERLAND PLAZA, developed by George Meyer, was built on an 80 acre plot, located  6.7 miles southwest of the center city.

The original center encompassed approximately 400,000 leasable square feet on a single retail level. There were thirty-two store spaces. While many contemporary shopping malls had a tunneled basement level for shipping and receiving, the service area of MEYERLAND was situated on its roof. This made it similar to Miami's NORTHSIDE CENTER (1960) or New York City's KINGS PLAZA (1970).

At its official grand opening, held October 31, 1957, MEYERLAND PLAZA was anchored by a 2-level (45,200 square foot), Houston-based Meyer Brothers, 2-level (64,100 square foot) J.C. Penney and a Wichita Falls, Texas-based White Stores. White Stores was a Western Auto-type mercantile with lines of home appliances, furniture, automotive accessories, toys and sporting goods.

Inline stores at the shopping center included F.W. Woolworth, W.T. Grant, Mading's Drugs, Thom McAn Shoes, Palais Royal and a (27,300 square foot) Henke & Pillot supermarket. "Henke's", a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger, was rebranded by Kroger in 1966.

The mall's first movie house, the General Cinema Corporation Meyerland Cinema I & II, opened April 14, 1965. It was a freestanding structure, located in the southwest parking area, and was identical to GCC twin cinemas built simultaneously at the GULFGATE and NORTHLINE SHOPPING CITY centers.

An expansion replaced the existing Penney's at MEYERLAND PLAZA with a new 2-level (194,100 square foot), full-line store. It was dedicated January 14, 1971. The old location was taken by a relocated Palais Royal. The shopping venue now housed approximately 663,000 square feet, with a tenant list of fifty stores and services.

Shopping complexes in the vicinity of MEYERLAND PLAZA were SHARPSTOWN CENTER (1961) {1.9 miles northwest, in Houston} and WESTWOOD MALL (1975-1998) {4.6 miles southwest, in Houston}. Although only 3.3 miles north, the GALLERIA complex (1970) was so upscale that it provided no commercial competition to MEYERLAND PLAZA.

By the late 1980s, MEYERLAND PLAZA was in a severe state of decline. The center had gone through five changes of ownership; four of these transactions being conducted between 1984 and 1989. The fifth sale of the dilapidated and virtually vacant complex transpired in August 1993. The purchaser was Houston's E.D. ("Ed") Wulfe, who acquired the center in a joint venture with Boston's Harvard University.

A comprehensive redevelopment got underway in February 1994. Portions of the mall structure were demolished, with the remainder being renovated. Big box-type stores were installed in existing mall space, such as a (60,200 square foot) Bed, Bath & Beyond, (29,900 square foot) Marshalls and (53,800 square foot) Service Merchandise. A newly-built 1-level (107,000 square foot), Saint Louis-based Venture discount mart held its grand opening in November 1994.

An open-air strip plaza of 115,700 leasable square feet was constructed in the south parking area. It was tenanted by stores such as Stein Mart (33,700 square feet), Office Max (25,300 square feet) and and Lil' Things (29,800 square feet). These were open for business by mid-1995. In 1997, the Meyerland Cinema 8, a newly-built multiplex, replaced the circa-1965 Meyerland Cinema (which had been operating as a triplex).

The Venture chain's expansion into the Texas market was short-lived. In July 1997, the Texas stores were acquired by Kmart, with the MEYERLAND PLAZA store re-opening, as a Big Kmart, on November 14, 1997.

After a successful (and award-wining) redevelopment of MEYERLAND PLAZA, Ed Wulfe and company moved on to begin a reinvention of Houston's first shopping mall, GULFGATE SHOPPING CITY / GULFGATE MALL (1956). The MEYERLAND property was sold to Atlanta-based Ronus Properties in August 1998.

The MEYERLAND PLAZA Big Kmart was shuttered in early 2003 and re-opened, as a Target, in the spring of 2005.

A new owning entity came on board in September 2013, comprised of a joint venture of Houston's Fidelis Realty Partners and New York City's BlackRock, Incorporated. At this time, the main shopping center structure of MEYERLAND PLAZA encompassed 546,500 leasable square feet and twenty retail spaces.
 
Sources:

http://blogs.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2010/02/meyerland_plaza_in_pictures.html (Bayou City History "Meyerland Plaza in Pictures" / J.R. Gonzales)
Houston Architecture Info Forum
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.houstonfreeways.com
Project Reference File / Retail Meyerland Plaza, Houston Texas / July-September 1995
Harris County, Texas property tax assessor website
Houston Chronicle
http://www.ronusproperties.com
http://fidelisrealtypartners.com/Properties/MeyerlandPlaza