Westwood Mall (Houston, Texas)
The Sears at Westwood Mall, which is still open for business
|Location||Houston, Texas, USA|
|Owner||YoungWoo & Associates|
|No. of anchor tenants||2|
|No. of floors||2|
Westwood Mall was a shopping mall located in the Westwood business development in Houston, Texas. The mall was located at the intersection of U.S. Route 59 and Bissonnet Street, in the Westwood portion of the Alief area in southwest Houston.
Westwood Mall opened in 1975. The mall was two stories, anchored by Joske's and Sears, and featured 60 stores and a food court, with its most notable architectural feature being an unconventional main entrance on the Bissonnet Street side of the mall; this entrance housed an elevator and a bank of escalators and stairs leading from the first floor foyer to the second floor of the mall. Conversely, the mall's rear entrance led into the first floor food court, which was blocked by the main entrance.
At the time that it was built, it was located in the Alief area of unincorporated Harris County; the area was annexed by Houston shortly thereafter. From the beginning, it always had difficulty competing with nearby and more established Sharpstown Mall, but manage to survive due to a number of factors:
- The mall's anchor stores (Joske's and Sears) filled a void on the southwest side of Houston at the time, complementing Foley's and Montgomery Ward (and later, JCPenney) at Sharpstown Mall.
- The area surrounding Westwood Mall was considered prime real estate; nearby businesses included Westwood Country Club, a number of strip malls, restaurants and office buildings, and several apartment complexes targeted at professionals in Houston's energy industry, as well as many car dealerships serving customers from new residential developments in the surrounding areas (many of these dealerships still exist and remain successful today).
- The mall also benefited from being the closest mall to rapidly growing Fort Bend County, which did not have its own mall during much of Westwood's existence, and whose own prosperous residents were critical to the mall's survival.
The mall received exposure when scenes in the 1983 television movie Adam, portrayed to be at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, were filmed inside Westwood Mall, primarily at and around the Sears store. In 1987, Joske's was converted to Dillard's, as a byproduct of Campeau Corporation's takeover of parent company Allied Stores who sold Joske's to the latter. The following year, in 1988, the mall completed a renovation that added skylights and improved the mall's overall image, culminating in an advertising campaign during this time. At one point in the early 1990s, Westwood considered recruiting Foley's as a third anchor, a move that would have resulted in Foley's closing its Sharpstown Mall location.
However, this move did not materialize as Westwood began to face a series of setbacks. The economic malaise dating to the "oil bust" in Houston combined with changes in laws regulating multifamily housing resulted in many of the nearby apartment complexes becoming both a refuge for low-income renters and a haven for criminal activity, culminating in two incidents at the mall itself in only a two-month span. Around the same time, Sharpstown Mall underwent its own renovation in 1993 that added an eight-screen movie theater and other new features, effectively deterring Foley's from departing the newly renamed Sharpstown Center.
The mall's most fatal blow came in 1996 when First Colony Mall opened in Sugar Land. Located in Fort Bend County, First Colony Mall significantly weakened Sharpstown Center while simultaneously robbing Westwood Mall of its most critical customer base. Faced with a declining selection of stores and (in the case of Dillard's) more desirable locations at adjacent malls, Westwood's owners decided to convert the mall into a high-tech office center. As of 2013, with the exception of Sears which still operates its store that has existed before Westwood Mall ever did, the mall now consists of office space and today operates as the Southwest Corporate Center (SWCC).
- Houston Business Journal, Telecheck eyes old Dillard's space in Westwood Technology Center, October 30, 1998.