The Galleria has luxury on its mind.
Amid demolition rubble and yellow construction tape, mall planners are looking ahead to the new state-of-the-art flagship Saks Fifth Avenue slated to open early 2016, and a slew of upscale stores in hopes of satiating the shopping masses who crave high-end merchandise and the VIP treatment to go with it.
Leveling of the often-forgotten Galleria III is well underway, leaving a gaping hole where the small food court near Sage avenue drew customers. In its place lies a post-apocalyptic scene of rebar and chunks of concrete.
“The jewel box will specifically cater to luxury tenants. We are creating the high end spaces to meet the demand."
While Saks Fifth Avenue will stay open during the continued demolition and construction, the Macy’s on Sage is closing May 4. With the exception of cosmetics and fragrances, the rest of the store is discounted 40 to 60 per cent off the lowest price. The new Saks Fifth will occupy a portion of the vacated Macy's building, which is being demolished, with a high-rise residential tower in the future and additional shops. (The Macy's in Galleria IV will remain open.)
At the other end of the spectrum, Bulgari recently opened its newly revamped space in The Galleria pushing the luxury envelope with architectural and design elements mimicking those found in the jeweler's first Italian stores. Flooring, lighting, silk and carpets were imported from Italy specifically for the new store.
Menswear designer and celebrity favorite John Varvatos is claiming the space previously occupied by Cartier in the Neiman Marcus wing, adding an upscale shopping option for gents on the luxury level of the center. Cartier is relocating to a new space in the River Oaks District development that is also attracting high-end retailers like Hermes and Tom Ford. Faced with such competition, it's retailers like Bulgari and John Varvatos that The Galleria wants to attract in the increasingly competitive luxury market.
During a tour of the construction site, Galleria general manager Greg Noble said demand is high for retailers to stay in highly visible and accessible mall locations. The development of a “jewel box,” the area in front the Cheesecake Factory, has been designated for one to three upscale retailers for that purpose and will be fleshed out once the Saks Fifth Avenue construction is complete.
“The jewel box will specifically cater to luxury tenants. We are creating the high end spaces to meet the demand,” Noble said.
The Galleria planners are also meeting the requests of shoppers who want more dining options. Two new restaurants will be located close to the Saks Fifth Avenue store.