“The Galleria is a world-class asset, and there’s always demand for space,” says general manager Greg Noble, by way of explaining the mega-mall’s upcoming expansion. “And with the Uptown area thriving, our customers are seeking out more luxury brands.”
Ergo, Saks Fifth Avenue, which unveiled blueprints this fall for a brand-new, state-of-the-art flagship store, will rise from the soon-to-be rubble of the Macy’s in Galleria III, slated for demolition in January. (Macy’s, meanwhile, which has operated two stores in the Galleria since 1995, will merge its Sage Rd. outpost with the one along West Alabama and Hidalgo.)
Saks “will be a much larger store with a number of shopping boutiques and a new, refreshed look,” says Galleria Director of Marketing Jenny Harris. “The store will feel interactive and be focused on the shopping experience.”
John Breeding, president of the Uptown Houston District—a subdistrict of Houston created by the Texas legislature in 1987 to combine public and private investment in the area and foster growth of residential, retail, and commercial interests—has $1.5 billion worth of additional construction planned around the Galleria. Breeding is excited to see the Galleria focus on staying relevant and keeping up with newer competition throughout town, complementing the Uptown District’s ongoing work.
“The Galleria has been in existence for more than 40 years and remains Texas’s flagship shopping location,” he says, calling the mall a “beacon for people around the world.” “I think Simon Properties”—the developers in charge of the expansion—“realizes that you have to continually reinvent yourself to appeal to people, and the Galleria continues to do that.”
That reinvention may also include an additional standalone building facing Westheimer, near the site of The Cheesecake Factory, which Noble pictures as a “luxury jewel box.” If and when it’s built, said box will house a select group of two or three high-end tenants.
Upgrades to the Galleria’s interior, such as new LED lighting and softer seating in lieu of hard benches, are also in the works. Shoppers can also expect upgrades to the mall’s exterior and parking decks over the next year.
Finally, tentative plans exist for a new 300-unit, luxury residential high-rise on the corner of West Alabama and Sage that will sport an outdoor pool and some sort of passageway to the Galleria. The high-rise would add yet another shiny tower to Uptown’s increasingly dense skyline, with construction beginning some time after the mall’s other renovations are complete.
“We’re emerging as a true mixed-use area,” says Breeding. “It’s really an exciting time to be here.”