Downtown Transition

A-Million Problems? Houston Pavilions owners say massive book store closing is no biggie

A-Million Problems? Houston Pavilions owners say massive book store closing is no biggie

Books-A-Million, bookstore, closing, December 2012
Books-A-Million occupied a two-story, 23,000 square foot space at 1201 Main Street anchors the Houston Pavilions complex.  Photo by Dillon Sorensen
Books-A-Million, bookstore, closed, December 2012
The store's last day of business was Christmas Eve, and movers are now packing up the remaining inventory and returning it to Books-A-Million's warehouse.  Photo by Dillon Sorensen
Books-A-Million, bookstore, closing, December 2012
Books-A-Million, bookstore, closed, December 2012

Alabama based book retailer Books-a-Million has finally shuttered its Houston Pavilions location, with the sweet rent deal it negotiated after threatening to leave in January of last year expiring.

The two-story, 23,000 square foot space at 1201 Main Street anchors the Pavilions complex, which was purchased in August by Houston-based Midway Companies and Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds (CJUF), the real estate capital firm owned by NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson and others.

Books-a-Million’s initial attempt to leave resulted in a rent reduction to less than $3,000 per month, with developer Geoff Jones betting that NRG Energy’s arrival in the complex’s main office tower would increase the store’s sales.

 Despite recent troubles, the Pavilions project isn’t exactly a flop. 

However, the dirt-cheap lease agreement expired on Christmas Eve, and movers are now working on packing up the store’s remaining inventory and sending it to company warehouses.

The Pavilions near-foreclosure, combined with the closing of neighboring tenants and a pre-existing dearth of walking traffic within the area, did little to create a successful retail environment. Plus, things haven’t exactly been going well for bookstores in recent years.

Midway Companies also owns and operates CityCentre, which is one of the most successful developments to come out of Houston’s mixed-used boom. An official statement from the company indicates that Books-a-Million’s departure is of little consequence to their long-term plans.

"The lease agreement between Books-A-Million and Houston Pavilions expired on December 24, 2012," Midway said in a statement. "Houston Pavilions is undergoing a period of renovation and robust growth and we look forward to bringing additional entertainment, dining and shopping options to downtown Houston in the coming year.”

Despite recent troubles, the Pavilions project isn’t exactly a flop — the House of Blues attracts a steady stream of concertgoers and Comcast SportsNet recently opened a large studio there. Perhaps Midway’s success with CityCentre, combined with CJUF’s urban development track record in other cities, will finally culminate in the realization of a downtown entertainment district.