After years as Houston's premier shopping destination, The Galleria is not giving up without a fight.
Faced with competition from a host of nearby mixed use centers aimed at the luxury shopper, Galleria owner Simon Property Group announced an extreme makeover of the venerable mall that will include a new 198,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue store, a high-rise residential tower and the addition of a multi-tenant building for high-end luxury boutiques.
The Galleria III wing of the mall will be torn down to make way for new Saks construction. The new state-of-the-art Saks store is scheduled to open in 2015. Until then it will remain in its current Galleria location, Simon officials said in a press release.
Macy's which has had two stores in the Galleria since Macy’s bought the Foley’s chain in 2005, will close one of its Galleria stores. The existing Saks space will be converted into 35 smaller stores, Simon said.
The construction of a separate building on Westheimer aimed at high-end tenants, in particular, appears to be a key component in The Galleria's fight to retain its luxury cachet.
Other plans include the addition of a multi-tenant building for luxury retailers along Westheimer with drive-up parking, and upgrades to the Galleria's interior, exterior and parking garages. A new 300-unit, luxury residential building is proposed for the Sage/West Alabama corner that would connect residents to The Galleria through an indoor walkway.
The 2.4 million square-foot complex — with 400 stores and restaurants, two Westin hotels and three office towers — was developed by master developer Gerald Hines more than 40 years ago.
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Simon currently owns or has an interest in 326 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia, comprising 241 million square feet.
The construction of a separate building on Westheimer aimed at high-end tenants, in particular, appears to be a key component in The Galleria's fight to retain its luxury cachet. In real estate and high fashion circles, it has been an open secret that such Galleria boutiques as Chanel and Cartier are shopping around for a more accessible location where customers do not have to enter a mall.
Just down the street on Westheimer, The River Oaks District mixed-use development has already lured such high-end luxury boutiques as Hermés, Tom Ford and Roberto Cavalli in a shopping center-like outdoor setting. The complex plans to open in 2015.
Ralph Bivins and Clifford Pugh contributed to this article.