MEYERLAND PLAZA
Beechnut Street and Endicott Lane
Houston, Texas

The second major mall-type shopping center in The Bayou City 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 retail center encompassed approximately 400,000 leasable square feet on a single 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).

An official grand opening was 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 in the new shopping center included F.W. Woolworth, W.T. Grant, Mading's Drugs, Thom McAn Shoes, Palais Royal and (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 opened simultaneously at the GULFGATE and NORTHLINE "shopping cities". It was reconfigured as the Meyerland Cinema I-II-III in 1978.

The existing Penney's at MEYERLAND PLAZA was replaced by a 2-level (194,100 square foot) store. This full-line operation was dedicated January 14, 1971. The original store was assumed by a relocated Palais Royal. The shopping venue now spanned approximately 663,000 leasable square feet, with a tenant list of fifty stores and services.

Shopping venues in the vicinity of MEYERLAND PLAZA included 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 for MEYERLAND PLAZA.

All of the commercial competition eventually caught up with MEYERLAND PLAZA. By the late 1980s, it was in a pronounced state of decline. The center had gone through five changes of ownership; four of these transactions being conducted between 1984 and 1989.

A fifth sale closed in August 1993. The dilapidated and virtually vacant complex was acquired by a joint venture of Houston's E.D. ("Ed") Wulfe and 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 stores were installed in existing store space. These included a (60,200 square foot) Bed, Bath & Beyond, (29,900 square foot) Marshalls and (53,800 square foot) Service Merchandise.

New retail area was also built. A 1-level (107,000 square foot), Saint Louis-based Venture discount mart held its grand opening in November 1994. A south parking area strip plaza contained stores such as a (33,700 square foot) Stein Mart, (25,300 square foot) Office Max and (29,300 square foot) Lil' Things. These were open for business by mid-1995.

An new motion picture venue was built adjacent to the west side of the existing tri-plex. The General Cinema Corporation Meyerland Cinema 8 showed its first features in March 1995. After its grand opening, the tri-plex was demolished.

The Venture chain's expansion into the Texas market proved to be short-lived. In July 1997, the Lone Star State stores were acquired by Kmart, with the MEYERLAND PLAZA location re-opening, as a Big Kmart, on November 14, 1997.

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

The Big Kmart at MEYERLAND PLAZA was shuttered in early 2003 and re-opened, as a Target, in the spring of 2005. The new megaplex cinema had closed for good in 2004, after less than 10 years in business. Like the circa-1965 cinema it had replaced, it was also demolished.

MEYERLAND PLAZA was sold in September 2013. The complex was acquired by a joint venture of Houston's Fidelis Realty Partners and New York City's BlackRock, Incorporated. At this time, the main shopping center structure encompassed approximately 546,500 leasable square feet and housed 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.movie-theatre.org / Mike Rivest
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