Showing posts with label hotels and motels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hotels and motels. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

La Quinta next to Denny's

The current La Quinta as of August 2019 by author. Will it continue to be a La Quinta when the new one on the freeway opens?


Both of these buildings have the address of 607 Texas Avenue, thus they'll be covered at the same time. The restaurant at the corner of Texas and Live Oak was built in 1978 with La Quinta Inn was built in 1979 (originally "La Quinta Motor Inn", later "La Quinta Inn", before branded as simply "La Quinta") right behind it and, with the restaurant being Julie's Place (no. 139). The "#139" implies more of the chain, but from the Houston Chronicle archives, there's only references to the College Station location (none in Houston). Boasting a menu including hamburgers and onion soup, Julie's Place closed in January 1987 after a murder (there was a story on MyBCS, though I'm sure I had heard it elsewhere about how the manager actually swallowed the key to the safe and the stabbings were to retrieve the key, but I'm not sure on that since that's just a comment on the forum and the official court summary makes no mention of the key-swallowing incident). That said, an article from the Houston Chronicle did mention the body was cut from the sternum to the pelvis, which lends credence to the statement.


By 1989, it had reopened as Bombay Bicycle Club (not the 1990s, phone book lists BBC in that era), which was considered one of the nicer restaurants in town (it didn't have anything to do with Indian food), and by the mid to late 1990s it became a Denny's.

August 2019 picture of Denny's by author. Until about a year or so prior, it had green trim.

Additionally, the La Quinta has some additional buildings behind what is currently Rice Garden and the La Quinta Inn was previously home to a "super slide" of some sort, but I can't find much information on that. (Parts of this post originally appeared here).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

North of University Drive and South of Bryan

Is this intersection even recognizable anymore?


I decided to separate this from the main Texas Avenue article (as parts of that are looking hairy itself, mostly in dealing with massive walls of text) partially because the area has been changed so much. I was having a bit of trouble in formatting this post, as the area has changed over the past 30-40 years significantly (with the lots being redrawn, even). This is not filler, this is some pretty cool stuff featuring some ads from the past, and a lot of other information. Enjoy.

This page is also intended to complement this page.

EXISTING STRUCTURES, WEST SIDE

Northpoint Crossing we will not cover, even though it's the biggest thing University and Texas has going for it. I know, just bear with me here.

• Hampton Inn was built in the mid to late 1980s. It retains its original exterior, is at 320 Texas Avenue, four stories, decent reviews. It's nothing too memorable, and photos are relatively commonplace.

Official picture from the owner. Notice the Applebee's in the background.


• Home2 Suites by Hilton is the newest thing along Texas Avenue. It's part of the current "hotel boom" and isn't open yet. I don't have photos either. It takes up some old apartments and also the old car wash (see next section).

• Applebee's was built in 1994 according to Brazos CAD. It's at 200 Texas Avenue.

• Knights Inn (104 Texas Avenue) isn't a great hotel today--it had a bit of charm with its uncommon-for-this-town evergreen trees (pine, looks like), but the reviews indicate that it's a dark, dank, nasty place that's rarely cleaned (or cleaned poorly), and in a bad neighborhood. This isn't an entirely unfounded accusation for that last one, because of its proximity to the scruffy apartments behind it, it put up a row of chain link fence blocking access from Meadowland Street (thankfully, aforementioned scruffy "Meadowlands Apartments" seem to be mostly cleared out--mostly). In the early 2000s (up to 2005, it seems), it was Kiva Inn and before that, a Comfort Inn (note that the name had been there before they built the Comfort Suites further down University), and before that, the Texian Inn. Texian Inn opened in 1984 (again, according to Brazos CAD).

DEFUNCT STRUCTURES, WEST SIDE

• Like Northpoint Crossing, a notable "missing building" is the building later known as the Plaza Hotel, which once was a Ramada Inn and later, student dorms entirely for a time. You can read more about the hotel here from this post two years ago. [EDIT 6-18-14: And not to forget the Chevron station either. That was originally a Gulf station, at the northwest corner of Texas and University. Read that here]

• Where the Hampton Inn is now was once the Sands Motel (and the same property plat, as I found out later). I have a good picture of the Sands, and that picture showed it was a "Best Western", back when it was a designation, not a brand. The Sands was razed in the early 1980s. Since the Hampton now occupies the pad, it may have had the same address, but it was 324 Texas Avenue.

• I used to be not sure what this thing north of the Hampton/Sands is. It was definitely there in 1982. In looking at directories, it said this was 300 Texas Avenue, Travel Kleen Car Wash. "But Pseudo3D...or whatever your name is...wasn't Travel Kleen over near Harvey Road, where they built that new strip center?" Yes it was. But my 1982 directory shows that Travel Kleen not there in 1982, and looking at the layout of the building, "self-serve car wash" is the only thing that makes sense in context. Mystery solved!

• Joe Faulks Auto Parts was the thing just north of that. It was open in 1980 (but not '83), and had the address of 208 Texas Avenue. Other than that, I have no info there. It may have also had 206 Texas Avenue.

• Western Motel was there at 204 Texas Avenue. This was another forgettable motel of which there are no decent photos or good ads. It was built in the early 1960s and demolished in the early 1990s. Unknown to when it shut down.

• Where the Texian Inn (now Knights Inn) operates was once a mini-golf course (and good, from what I heard, including the near-ubiquitous windmill). This was the Turf Green Miniature Golf Course (120 Texas Avenue). Turf Green (built in the early 1960s) that sadly I don't have a lot of information on (write in the comments?) but west of that (behind it) was an even more obscure "Western theme park" behind it, Jubilee Junction, opened by Marion Pugh himself. This opened in 1967 but it closed just about one year later in 1968, briefly home to a campaign rally for Texas governor hopeful Paul Eggers in 1970 and a few other events. Jubilee Junction had some 21 structures and featured a variety of displays (including live birds and animals), places to buy food & drink (such as soft drinks at a salvaged saloon bar) and some authentic pieces scattered around the village (Keeny TX's old post office). You could get a souvenir artisan horseshoe from the blacksmith, ride in a covered wagon around the village, or watch a mock gunfight, staged twice a day.

While it certainly sounded unique and interesting, it does sound like the model was flawed, and not enough a big enough trade area to keep it going year after year. That's not an uncommon fate among these types of things, and bigger failures have happened since (like AutoWorld in Michigan). Anyway, Jubilee Junction ultimately turned out to be a bust. By the end of the 1970s, it was completely gone.

Picture courtesy John Ellisor. Used with permission.


• I'm not forgetting the "Snowflake Donuts" building either. That you can read here. It also needs some tenants it's missing.

EXISTING STRUCTURES, EAST SIDE

• At the northeast center of this intersection (University and Texas), is an Exxon, which was built in 1993. This is at 425 Texas Avenue. There is nothing remarkable about it.

413 Texas Avenue is an insurance office. It's also a small, somewhat ugly building, but take a close look at it. Some of you may be old enough to remember it as a Pizza Inn in the late 1960s (Brazos CAD says it was built in 1966) to sometime in the mid-1980s. The building still looks remarkably similar to the ad below. Pizza Inn itself has shrank in recent years, but you can still find it in a few corners of the world not too far away from here (a modern Rattler's gas station en route to Temple has a new location, and one is near Northwest Mall in Houston).

1970s phone book.



• You can get your fried food fix at the Sonic at 401 Texas Avenue, which was built around late 2004 or early 2005 and replaced an old Sonic at University Drive East (redeveloped in 2007 and now a Brake Check). This was a vacant lot prior to that (at least to 1995), but it wasn't always vacant...

301 Texas Avenue is a Super 8 Motel.

4613 Texas Avenue is a Fairfield Inn & Suites.


DEMOLISHED STRUCTURES, EAST SIDE
• The Shell at the corner of Texas and FM 60 was a Shell up until the early 1990s. You can see a shot of the smaller Shell (logo) sign here (annotated version by AggiePhil) but there was a larger one, too (see the Texas Avenue page). This gem comes from TexAgs, and I have yet to find a picture for this, because that would be hilarious. I have also yet to find an address for this one.

In the late '80s or early '90s, that Shell station had a giant S H E L L sign. One night the S burned out. Someone took a picture of the intersection and the "H E L L" sign and sent it to the Daily Texan, who ran it with the headline, "Welcome to College Station."


• The current home of Sonic at 401 Texas Avenue was "Darby's Foreign Car Parts" in 1978 and 1980 (these two years are not indicative of when it was built, but it was open in this era). I'm not sure when this was demolished, but it was the late 1980s or early 1980s. It also did business as "Enginooity Import Parts & Repair". Not sure which is the "official" one (but Enginooity still operates in Bryan even to this day, apparently) [EDIT 6-21-14: Additionally, 401 Texas Avenue was ALSO the site of Cut Rate Liquor No. 5 concurrently]

301 Texas Avenue at the corner of Cooner and Texas was originally A-1 Auto Parts and then later became Aggie Solar Guard by the late 1980s, which ultimately became Ag Solar Guard in the 1990s as use of the word "Aggie" was cracked down on. It was then demolished, but not before ASG moved north.

315 Texas Avenue was Senter-Piece Flowers in the early 1980s just south of Tom's. This was also demolished for Super 8 eventually.

209 Texas Avenue: Tastee-Freez was here into the early 1970s. Tastee-Freez was at about 1,800 in the 1950s and 1960s but imploded as they couldn't control franchises. There's less than 50 today, so T-F's departure from Bryan should be expected. I can't find what happened to T-F's space later, but it was demolished eventually. The 1980s phone books list nothing for the address (1980 and 1983). I'm not exactly sure where it was.

4613 Texas Avenue was Tom's Barbecue (not "Steakhouse") yet, before it moved to Bryan. This moved in the late 1980s.

4611 Texas Avenue was A&W Drive-In, this also has no information for 1980 and 1983, which implies a restaurant was no longer here. I believe this was the one closer to the Bryan city limits. A&W did make a brief re-appearance in south (well, at the time) College Station when it opened in the Exxon at Rock Prairie, but that's a story for another day.

Wow, it had an eat-in area? That's better than Sonic ever had.


OTHER MYSTERIES
"Gary's Exxon" was supposedly at 408 Texas Avenue, but I can't find a place for it.

This information here was compiled with old directories and phone books, so please don't go ripping this wholeheartedly. Please write in the comments...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Saber Inn / Taco Cabana

Picture from May 2019 by author.

Texas Avenue has always been full of restaurants and hotels, and occasionally both. Saber Inn was one such place at 701 Texas Avenue South, and featured a restaurant along with a small motel section (just 36 rooms) and a cloverleaf-shaped swimming pool. As not many restaurants were in town in those days, hotel restaurants were a viable choice when dining out for locals. (Nowadays, most of the hotels have restaurants near them, not in them, though there are still some notable exceptions, like the hotels at Century Square).

The motel was torn down years ago. From what I've read, it lasted from 1957 to 1982, and then became "Baker Street Restaurant & Bar" (unknown if related to the Baker Street Pubs in Houston, some of which have since closed), and that was torn down too for a Taco Cabana (unless of course, I'm wrong again and the restaurant was at the motel site), which opened sometime in 1989 (Brazos CAD says the main restaurant was built in 1988 with the patio in 1989).

Saber Inn had a restaurant as well, but the scan cut off the address.

For years I argued that the Grapevine was never in the Saber Inn (partially because for years they ran another location down the road from Saber Inn), until I did find proof of it in another phone book; seems they took over the dinner service at one time while expanding to have wine and cheese. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the date, and I still need to work on the chronology of that.

Taco Cabana has mostly remained constant since 1989, though the logo and exterior updated as the chain changed, currently tan with pink accents, and a pink sign with white lettering.

Updated May 2019

Monday, June 24, 2013

Manor House Motor Inn

From a 1988-1989 Aggie Football guide

I went to Adamson Lagoon many times when I was younger, and seemingly towering over the pool area (certainly if you went up to the large slide) was the larger Manor House sign, a motel that was about a quarter mile away on 2504 Texas Avenue South. I don't remember when the towering sign disappeared (as part of sign ordinances, no doubt, a similar fate befell McDonald's just a ways down the road). It also has renovated completely around the time of its name change to just "Manor Inn" (probably much needed, the Days Inn next door remained in a time warp, and it still is like that today.

The original sign (which you can see in the advertisement) looked like this except it was maroon instead of black, as it was a chain at one time, and even in 2001 a Waco location still existed. (Brazos CAD says it was built in 1982, and by 1983 it was clearly open).


Updated May 2019

Monday, June 17, 2013

Holiday Inn College Station / Four Points by Sheraton

To replace the stock picture that used to be here, here's one from 2015 taken from the Jack in the Box across the street.


1503 S. Texas Avenue

Originally I posted this back in fall 2011 (based on the wording of the 2011 post), and that was a point when I was still trying to figure out how to make the blog like I wanted it. Even after 2013, it still had much of the 2011 wording in there.

The Holiday Inn Express of College Station is and to my knowledge has always been on University, near Spring Loop. This is not what this post is about. Nor is it about the Bryan Holiday Inn, which somehow managed to get a Travelodge license after operating for years as a no-name motel since the late 1980s. The Travelodge name disappeared soon after a prostitution bust, so it's back to being a no-name motel again.

The hotel that is now Four Points by Sheraton was a Holiday Inn, opened circa 1973 (it was under construction in 1972). Why Holiday Inn didn't build new on the highway, as that was their modus operandi, was because even though the bypass did exist at that point, there was nothing on there, and Texas Avenue still was where the activity was (indeed, Earl Rudder Freeway does look a bit barren at some points--compare and contrast Cypress, Texas).

For years, this hotel perplexed me because I seem to remember the Clarion name was on far longer than 2005, but maybe my brain already was getting frazzled by the time because of all the changes. Even Google Earth supports some of the things that I've found.

Because hotel history is a little weird: you'd have to be working there to really understand it, here's some things that I did find through what I found. Here's my 2002 Six Continents hotel directory with the College Station hotels (Six Continents was the parent company of Holiday Inn at the time--forgive the slight crookedness), showing the Holiday Inn Express on University and the main hotel on Texas...

OK, so here we have the two hotels, the one on Texas Avenue and the Express near the University. Makes sense.



Fast forward a few years to the 2005 directory, now owned by InterContinental Hotel Group (the "hotel" side of 6C, as 6C broke up).



The new Holiday Inn is indeed on Southwest Parkway and the freeway, though by Q3 2005 it was still under construction. By Q3 2006 it had been running for a bit.

The old Holiday Inn as you may know was the "College Station Inn" for a few years, but it was Clarion for several years before that, seemingly long before Holiday Inn moved out to the highway. This odd memory is supported by the fact that someone perhaps Photoshopped out the logo. Why? Why would they do this?

Here's what the Four Points/Holiday Inn looked like as a Clarion (a picture of the "College Station Inn" is unavailable).




The phone books due line up with the Holiday Inn until 2005 and Clarion later (College Station Inn didn't last all that long, admittedly).

Regardless, renovations began in 2011 that all but stripped down the Holiday Inn and in April 2012, Four Seasons by Sheraton opened, which is their mid-line brand. We don't have a full-line Sheraton in town, of course, that's for large cities.

From HotelPlanner.com, presumably taken on a hot summer day. The paint isn't quite orange like that, but it can appear as such during certain times of day in certain parts of the year.

Perhaps it would be more interesting if I focused on the restaurants. One of the things about Holiday Inn was their restaurants, good enough that it was able to function on its own as a semi-independent component and not just a liability to keep guests in the hotel. The link to Pleasant Family Shopping talks about this in great detail, but to be honest, I think that such a thing is a bygone element now. I ate at a sit-down restaurant in a hotel once without actually staying at the hotel, I had spaghetti. That, however, was in 1998, when I was much younger than however old I am when you are reading this.

From what I could tell, the early days of the restaurant didn't have a name, the only references came in the paper of what they'd be serving that day (1983 papers seemed to mention only what they'd be serving, Mexican, etc.) That all changed in 1984, when the restaurant became Mongolian House, a Chinese buffet and Mongolian grill.


Garfield's was a higher class establishment than the more family-oriented Mongolian House. Open 6 am to 11 pm, Garfield's marketed toward more than the hotel crowd, and offered a menu that included prime rib, steaks, seafood, burgers, and sandwiches, as well as "54 beers of the world", which was rather good considering that craft beer was not the market it was today, and between Garfield's and Mongolian House, there was "Daddy O's" according to a city directory, and by the mid-1990s it was "Bronco's - The Texas Café". Naturally, there are going to be some I missed.

In keeping with this tradition, the current Four Points does in fact have a restaurant and bar. It's not Asian food, it's the "Century Café". It even stocks New Republic beer (brewed locally).

Minor revisions complete 4/25/15

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

College Station Hilton

This was taken in October 2015, and it was actually a lot darker than this, but the flash wasn't on.


The Hilton opened in May 1985 (confirmed), and unlike the Ramada Inn a few miles down, survives today as a Hilton. Plaza Café became Bell Ranch Steakhouse later. Personally, even accounting for inflation (about $109 today), that sounds great, especially in October 1985 (football weekends). And they include alcohol and a gift basket as well? Not bad, not bad at all!



I have no idea what became of Sundance, though. Additional history (renovations, etc.) is always appreciated...though I do believe it renovated at least twice to some extent.

801 University Drive East

updated july 30 2013 to amend opening, updated 2015 to add new photo

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ramada Inn / University Tower / Plaza Hotel

University Tower, taken from a car parked catty-corner at what was Diamond Shamrock (Project HOLD)


May 24, 2012, 6:40 AM:
There probably hadn't been that many people on the Polo Fields since the last Bonfire burned, and the busiest intersection in the city, University Drive and Texas Avenue, was closed down. The occasion? The Plaza Hotel at 410 Texas Avenue South was coming down. It was rare to see an implosion in College Station (two years later Kyle Field was imploded, but a large-scale structure implosion hadn't been seen before in College Station, or since).

Thousands showed up to the implosion, crowding the streets, making it there quite early (or in some cases, extremely late). It was a diverse crowd: students that stayed for the summer, families, the old and the young alike. After a ten minute delay, 6:40 AM was the moment the quarter-ton of dynamite in the upper levels detonated and the building crumbled to the ground, with one of the four people imploding it. The mayors of College Station and Bryan, TAMU chancellor John Sharp (can't resist a chance at publicity), and a fourth man, Joe Ferreri. When the building cracked apart, with the elevator shaft separating from the building in the process, people cheered, a massive dust cloud blew toward Bryan, and every car alarm in the public viewing area went off.


It was Joe Ferreri that built the hotel and the tower in the first place. The story goes that Joe Ferreri was a successful restaurateur in town, and Texas A&M president James Earl Rudder himself (long before getting a tower, a high school, a dormitory, and a freeway named after him, but after becoming a World War II hero) approached him with a business proposal.

Rudder explained that he was having trouble recruiting faculty to A&M because professors’ wives thought the town was boring. The solution, Rudder proposed, was a hotel across from campus with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a banquet hall and a faculty club.

Ferreri wasn't so sure. But the former Navy soldier said he knew he couldn’t say no.

"When a general says, 'Do this or this,' you say, 'Yes, sir,'" Ferreri said.

At the time, College Station had no shopping centers of any type, there was nothing on Texas Avenue past what is now George Bush Drive, some scattered subdivisions east of Texas Avenue, and scattered subdivisions out to what is now Holleman, but that was it. Bryan was somewhat larger but it was comparatively farther away from campus.

I can't nail down an exact opening for the Ramada Inn, but from what I can tell it was 1964 (Brazos CAD still had the page up under the 2011 section).

Imagine seeing this beautiful sight traveling down Texas 6! Doesn't it look nice on a postcard?


At the corner of FM 60 and State Highway 6, College Station's first chain motel (maybe?), Ramada Inn, opened, complete with a tall, lit "Uncle Ben", Ramada's mascot. It delivered on all of Mr. Rudder's wishes, and within a decade new hotels and businesses were opening up and down Texas Avenue.

In the early 1960s (1960-1964, I was unable to nail down an exact date), when the Ramada Inn opened, it was the fanciest thing in town. Replacing eight homes that sat on the property, and outstripping the MSC in class and elegance, the Ramada had both motel-oriented rooms and hotel oriented rooms. It was also the only place to drink in town due to dry laws. Like many fancy hotels, during the 1970s, it held a few small retail tenants besides the restaurant, a travel agency and a hair salon (The Hair of Affairs).

Beefeaters: The restaurant in Ramada in the mid-1970s. What exactly is "heavy beef"?

There was another building that was on the premises that was not demolished when the hotel was built, and to this day is still somewhat of a mystery. You can see a picture here, just on the other side of the UtoteM store. Previously, I had written this was a location of a store called "100,000 Auto Parts" which had the same address of Ramada Inn (410 Texas Avenue, which it had up to its demise) but it turned out it was 410 North Texas Avenue in Bryan, so I don't know. I don't ever remember this being occupied in the 21st century. Brazos CAD says it was built in 1949, under "Units on Univ Dr".


Previously, I had written this was a location of a store called "100,000 Auto Parts" which had the same address of Ramada Inn (410 Texas Avenue, which it had up to its demise) but it turned out it was 410 North Texas Avenue in Bryan, so I don't know. I don't ever remember this being occupied in the 21st century.

When the Ramada was getting consistently full on a nightly basis, it had to expand, so parking was placed behind Meadowland (replacing more homes, of course) and a 17 floor tower was built in 1980-1982 (Brazos CAD says it was built in 1984). The construction involved demolishing the east end of the hotel and enclosing the swimming pool under a huge glass skylight. The top four floors were sold out as loft-style housing to wealthy Aggie alumni, all of which got rich off of the oil boom.

By the time it opened, oil prices were bottoming out, with a recession hitting Houston and College Station, with many restaurants outright closing. Jobs were lost. Banks closed. Real estate plummeted. In 1987, Ferreri declared bankruptcy and lost the hotel. I can't find exactly what happened in the process, but it looks like Ramada Inn either closed it or sold it, but the Ramada name ended up going to an existing hotel further south on Texas Avenue and in fall 1989, the building was reopened as a combination hotel and upscale student dormitory. Gone was the Ramada Inn name, as the company was now in a smaller building further down on Texas Avenue. Rather than Joe Ferreri, control went to California-based financier Leonard M. Ross, who renamed the building. UNIVERSITY TOWER shown from red neon to afar, but it soon fell into disrepair, partially because the hotel part disappeared more and more each year until finally becoming student dorms entirely in early 1994. Meanwhile Ferreri ended up going back to restaurants and opened an Italian restaurant in the former Ira's in the Kmart parking lot.

What was once advertising as an upscale hotel in 1990 (see page 4), the horror stories of students living in the tower are talked about to this day throughout message boards and real life. Tales of no hot water or broken down elevators live on and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who lived in and enjoyed the Tower after maybe the first or second year it opened.

At some point, the dorms were converted back into traditional hotel rooms, Ross eventually converted more of the dorms back into regular rooms (with a gala in the top level suite, Buzz Aldrin as the guest of honor) and renamed the hotel as the Plaza Hotel & Suites (this happened around 2004), which replaced the University Tower brandings with a large "P", but it just looked cheap and ugly. All during this time, Ross simultaneously hawked the site to the city in their quest for a convention center site while letting the hotel go to waste (it's worth noting, for instance, that Ross also owned the fourplexes at Meadowland, which were nasty enough to have the hotel at 104 Texas Avenue seal off its back entrance.

In 2007 (about three years after the Plaza name took over), a kid drowned in the swimming pool. In 2008, the kitchen scored a 47 on health reports due to no hot water, which almost never happens (in the University Tower days, it offered a cafeteria, which I bet was nothing worth talking about). After continued problems (and terrible, terrible hotel reviews) the hotel shut down for good in 2010 and sat abandoned for over a year.

It started to get reports of vandals and trespassers, and eventually the windows on the top level suite were knocked out and had to be patched with plywood. In in late 2011 the hotel was sold off as the holdings of Ross went bankrupt. I don't know if he's sold off his $165 million mansion in Beverly Hills yet, but there you go.

In January, the building was planned to be renovated once more as student housing, with the "design [being] complementary to the Texas A&M campus", but the decision was soon made to demolish it after all. After donating the furniture (probably not the mattresses), recycling any material they could, and letting the police and fire departments use it for training, it was gutted, making the building resemble a parking garage (albeit a tall, narrow one) more than anything.

Soon after posting the original version of this post, reader John E. of Southern Retail sent in some shots of what was left. Thanks!




There's also a great video on YouTube on the history of the building and the backstory of Joe Ferreri. There's great period music too, though I couldn't identify all of it.

After the last of the rubble was cleared away, the area sat as a muddy lot for the remainder of 2012. Of course, if you drive by today, you'll find new, huge structures on the site: Northpoint Crossing. Shorter, denser, and larger than the old Plaza, the former home of the tower has completely changed, along with the old Chevron, UtoteM/smoke shop, and Kettle in the area. As of this writing, the new article on Northpoint Crossing isn't done yet, but it will be covered here.

In a way, I'm a bit sad that the hotel had to go that way. Since the the Rise isn't an attractive building, I kind of wish University Tower had done something in the 1990s instead of letting it deteriorate. Rather than the boxy, "generic 70s hotel" tower (the former Holiday Inn/Days Inn/Heaven on Earth Inn in Houston had the same problem), they could've enclosed the entire building in glass, taken out the Gulf/Chevron on the corner of Texas and University, demolished the last of the original motel that wasn't part of the connected portion, closed off Meadowland Drive and turned the whole thing into a combo dorm/retail center, a la Dobie Center, so we could have something to compete with Austin in the 1990s, plus it would've filled in for any fast food establishments that WEREN'T on Northgate already. The downside to doing so would that it still would've been far away from the rest of Northgate (a long walk down past the University Apartments), which I think was/is also why Northpoint Crossing isn't doing as well as it could. With Century Square now built, that's probably less of an issue, but it's still far away from campus proper.

Extensive update June 2019 after 15 previous updates

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ramada Aggieland Inn

Doesn't look so bad, does it? Yeah, well you haven't gotten close to it.

Opening in summer 1974 as the Aggieland Inn (named after a long-defunct hotel on campus, which had long been functionally replaced by the MSC and gone for many years), this hotel was initially successful with its restaurant ("Whistle Stop") but in the mid-1980s renamed to Aggieland Hotel shortly before being the Ramada Aggieland Inn by 1988 after Ramada pulled its name from the bankrupt tower. It renamed to Ramada Inn (like the former tower), then simply "Ramada".

Football program, 1988-1989


Even before losing the name, the Ramada had been going on a downhill trend for years, there's a story about how the restaurant accidentally(?) gave food poisoning to the Longhorn football team circa '99, and other minor stories of what happened there. Sometime around 2006 or 2007, a new Ramada hotel began to be built on the bypass behind The Home Depot, and the name would be pulled. Since the economy was good at the time, an ambitious plan evolved to convert the Ramada Inn into an upscale student housing and retail complex.

Here's some exclusive scans from the defunct AbouTown Press December 2007 issue. Obviously, this all never happened. Somewhere during this whole process (the widening of Texas Avenue was well underway at this time), the economy tanked and rather than a big redevelopment, the hotel renamed to "Aggieland Inn" (the original name), just like how the Clarion across the street became "College Station Inn". I loved how the website (at AggielandInn.com, but it's down) called itself a "2.0-star property" as if it was something to be proud of, which would've been like someone with a "Proud Parent of a C Student" unironically.





Unlike the 1970s incarnation, the "new" Aggieland Inn was a no-name junky hotel that received miserable reviews. The hotel shut down in for good in September 2011 just before the football season.

In 2013, it got a repaint and was rumored to reopen for the fall, but it never did. Here's a Google Maps 45° view of the hotel before the repaint.


In addition to the new photo at the top of the page, in April 2015, I made a visit to snap some more pictures. However, there were lots of No Trespassing signs in the area, and I wasn't going to get arrested for some semi-defunct blog I was just updating, so here's one more shot of the hotel (I didn't get too close to the lobby part, unfortunately).


Since 2015, much has changed. The pool out front was demolished for a new lobby and the peaked roof removed for the new incarnation of the hotel, TRYP by Wyndham. The hotel (with a new address of 1508 Texas Avenue S.) eventually opened in November 2017.

The lobby and restaurant space of the old Aggieland Inn was gutted and is now a strip mall. I don't have a picture yet but tenants are as follows:

Ste. 100 - Urban Bricks Pizza Co. (open May 2017, closed early 2019, but is rumored to reopen as of this writing)
Ste. 200 - Wayback Burgers (opened September 2016?)
Ste. 300 - Fancy Nails & Spa (unknown opening)
Ste. 400 - Ye Star Chinese Buffet (opened 2017?)
Ste. 500 - SignatureCare Emergency Center (opened 2016)