Saks Fifth Avenue general manager Bobby Dees is probably the happiest man in Houston. That's because his glittery new store is finally linked to the rest of The Galleria shopping mall — and just as the holiday shopping season enters its final stretch run.
"I call it the magic corridor," Dees said. "We were disconnected to the mall. Now we're connected. We were an island out here.....now we have a bridge."
On Tuesday, Galleria officials officially unveiled the new corridor, which is carved out of the old Saks store. The luxury retailer moved into plush new digs next door in late April, but shoppers have had to detour through an outdoor walkway to get to the rest of the mall while the previous store was converted into a new area, called "Galleria VI."
Galleria marketing director Chris Lane ticked off the other areas of the mammoth mall — Galleria I and II are at or near the ice rink, Galleria III was demolished for the new Saks store, Galleria IV is the Nordstrom wing, and Galleria V is the former Lord & Taylor wing, which now includes a Del Frisco's and Forever XXI.
The newest wing caps off a remodel of the mall with all-new marble flooring, light fixtures, and railings from one end to the other — Neiman Marcus to the new Saks. "It's a really light, bright area and fun to be in without having to go outside," Lane said.
There are no traces of the former Saks store; instead the two-level pedestrian thoroughfare is marked with gleaming floors, a skylight, three large copper-colored fixtures, and seating areas on the first level. Bridges and additional seating will be added on the second level.
No stores in the new area will open in time for the holidays, but signs touting such names as Ted Baker, Robin's Jeans, AG Adriano Goldschmied, Coach, Cole-Haan, St. John, Tumi and Massimo Dutti line the corridor. They will open throughout next year. (Some of the brands currently have smaller or temporary spaces in the mall and will relocate to Galleria VI.)
"It's a testament to the community and the resiliency of the economy here that this many new stores can open at the Galleria," Lane said.
Construction continues on a walkway leading to the front curved entrance of the former Saks store on Westheimer, where such restaurants as Nobu and Fig & Olive are slated to open late next year. With a valet stand, "It will be a great new entrance to the Galleria," Lane said.
Both the new Saks store, which opened on April 28, and the newly-opened corridor were delayed for a month when the Memorial Day 2015 floods wreaked havoc on the construction schedule, Dees said. "But we're here and that's what's important. We have two weeks before Christmas and it's going to be intense, but this obviously helps. We're expecting good things."