We finally arrive at Townshire as our latest talking point today, partially to help pad out the still-under-construction Texas Avenue page and partially because it's such a popular topic anyway. Opening in 1958 (it advertised to even Hearne) with Safeway, Lester's, Hotard Cafeteria, Kelly's Toylane, Stacy's Furniture, Texas State Optical, Woolworth's, the "Laundromart", and Sears. It was, of course, the first big shopping destination that started to draw attention away from Downtown Bryan.
The Sears was at a slightly different grade than the rest of Townshire. At only 20,000 square feet, which rather small ("B" class store) for Sears, especially since a "full size" Sears was 10 times that size (the current Post Oak Mall location is around 80k, still on the small side). After Sears moved out, it would become Central Texas Hardware for a while, and eventually classrooms for Blinn (which happily vacated it after their new campus in Bryan was built, as by the time that happened, the building was in horrible condition).
Here's the 1964 tenant list:
Lester's pulled out before the downtown Bryan location did, in 1973 when it moved to a stand-alone location.
Safeway probably moved out in 1977 to its later home catty-corner to where Village Foods is now, and eventually to its current home, where it lasted less than 2 years (at best) before becoming AppleTree (and you know the rest), but by that time, Townshire was already beginning its decline, with Manor East Mall and newer strip centers, like Culpepper Plaza and Redmond Terrace. Finally, Post Oak Mall opened, putting all of the Bryan shopping centers in deep decline. By the early 1980s, Townshire was getting cleared out.
Unfortunately, I don't have too much Townshire information beyond that and a few restaurants that were there. I was told a Goodwill was here for a while, but that turned out to be false intel. In the early 1990s, however, there was Burdett & Son, which moved to Redmond Terrace for a while. There was also Keyser's, a local hobby shop that had a rather long run in the center even into the 1980s, when Townshire too was losing luster.
Townshire reopened in great fanfare in 2002 by the same developers that built the Rock Prairie Kroger center with a new facade and a completely rebuilt north anchor, when the ratty old Sears/Central Texas Hardware/Blinn building was torn down and replaced with the area's third Albertsons supermarket, joining the two in College Station and attempting to give the nearby Kroger and H-E-B Pantry Foods a run for the money. Despite seemingly solidifying the grocery race, since H-E-B had its new store in College Station and two other Pantry Foods locations, and with Kroger's three locations around town, it was an odd choice since at that time. Albertsons was retreating from Houston area (after a short run of less than a decade) and San Antonio, with Waco and Austin (and the breakup of Albertsons Inc.) not more than a few years away (the three stragglers, including the one in College Station, would all close by 2011). For all its fanfare, the new Albertsons at Townshire didn't even last five years, and closed in 2006, becoming one of the shortest-lived grocery stores in town, though not even close to unseating poor Weingarten near Post Oak Mall.
But the new Townshire didn't whither up, despite the loss of its largest tenant. CiCi's and a dollar store (now King Dollar, but not originally) kept trucking, and several service-oriented tenants came in.
Around 2012 or so, the Albertsons gas station reopened as a generic "Tigerland Express", and in the summer of 2013, the new Walmart grocery store finally opened.
Of course, Walmart Neighborhood Market was much more downscale than the Albertsons it replaced, but it was much cheaper and what the neighborhood needed. It didn't hurt H-E-B very much, and Village Foods was having its own problems thanks to some extensive road construction.
Today, Townshire (I believe it became "Townshire" officially rather than "Townshire Shopping Center") is not a thriving shopping center. Sure, the new Walmart brings in a ton of traffic, but the rest of the strip, not so much. Really, besides the CiCi's, a dollar store, and a beauty salon, most of the space is service-oriented or completely vacant (that and the Walmart). Here's some pictures taken in May 2014.
Two former grocery stores, Safeway on the right (I think it's a pawn shop now) and the former H-E-B Pantry in the back (we'll do that when we get there)
AlphaGraphics, originally Tops Printing
Moving my camera toward CiCi's, more shops, none of them too impressive or unique
CiCi's, a beauty salon, and a nail salon
Looking back toward the Walmart Neighborhood Market. You could see the façade incorporates much of the old Albertsons facade, though they painted parts brown. King Dollar is to the right. Apparently, some months after the grocery store opened, Walmart opened a separate liquor store but I neither looked for it nor noticed it.
[Update 6/10/14: I neglected to point out that where CiCi's is now was originally an open-air arcade/courtyard area with a large live tree in it. This was destroyed in the re-do.]
[Update 6/19/16: Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in January 2016 as part of a wave of Walmart closures nationwide. To date, it remains vacant.]
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