Monday, June 30, 2014

110-112 Nagle

Despite looking bad, this is about the extent of it.

This building, built in 1963, has seen a lot, including the after-effects of a fire in June 2014, which despite looking worse for the wear, was only quite limited to what to you see here, with Lippman's opening the next day and Jin's the following week.

The Jin's side (110 Nagle) was originally (by the early 1970s, so presumably as opening in 1963) one of the many UtoteM convenience stores in town though it appears that it ceased being UtoteM by 1975. In 1979 it reopened to become the Universal Grocery & Snack Bar, which morphed into Universal Restaurant & Asian Grocery before closing in 1998. From 1999 to early 2002 it was Blimpie (which lost its franchisee because of a second menu serving Indian food). It appears that they changed names before closure, a 2002 listing for "Hungry Hut" does list Indian, Chinese, and sandwiches as its menu options. (Another source lists the restaurant name as "Hungry Hop"; the actual name is unknown at this time). This closed in 2003, with Jin's opening in 2005. I don't have any pictures for Jin's unfortunately, partially because it's fairly common elsewhere (see Yelp, for instance). A friend claims that the Blimpie served an Indian food menu that may have contributed to its eventual closure.

Lippman's side (112 Nagle) opened as Lippman Music in 1994 (guitars and such, not albums) after moving from Culpepper Plaza (where it opened in the 1980s) but according to Brian Lippman served as a bus station in the distant past (the double doors that don't open was a freight entrance). From 1987 to 1994 it was the original location of Notes-N-Quotes before it moved to the old Exxon next door.

In May 2017, Lippman Music closed permanently when Brian Lippman retired, with Jin's closing soon after, fueling speculation the building would be redeveloped. The building was repainted (but not otherwise touched), and by mid-2018 two new tenants were operating, BonAppeTea (112) and Nam Cafe (110).

UPDATE 08-06-2021: The fifth update to this post adds some new dates and a link to the Notes-N-Quotes article. Also thanks to "J.M." for the information on Blimpie posted a few updates back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Park Place Plaza

The most activity here in a long time. These and others are the author's photos from 2014.

2501 Texas Avenue South

Appearing shortly after Parkway Square and built in 1986 catty-corner to that shopping center, the center appeared to be the counterpart to the shopping center in many ways. While Parkway Square had its Kroger, Park Place Plaza had its Winn-Dixie Marketplace. While Parkway Square had McDonald's, Park Place had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Both had stores that faced Texas Avenue, and both had stores that faced Southwest Parkway.

The center is divided into four sections. Section A is the side that faces toward Southwest Parkway. Section B is the former grocery store anchor. C begins east of the former grocery store anchor and toward the back. D is the section of the stores in a separate building not attached to the grocery store anchor that face toward the parking lot (direction towards campus), but not all suite numbers are available.

Here's a map (from Holland Retail Advisors that shows the shopping center as it was in 2014.

Click for full size.

The largest tenant was a Winn-Dixie Marketplace supermarket at 45,500 square foot, comparable to the nearby Kroger. WDM was the company's attempt to build bigger, more modern stores for the 1980s, but unfortunately, the company had expanded too far and built too few Marketplace (or larger) stores, contributing to the chain's Texas pull-out in 2002 and bankruptcy in 2005, and the chain continues to retreat. The College Station store closed well before that. As Victoria-based Lack's Furniture opened in February 1997, Winn-Dixie closed in 1996 (the Bryan store continued to operate until 2002). It closed in late 2010 along with the rest of the locations (interestingly, an unrelated furniture chain closer to the border called Lacks Valley Stores ended up buying the domain name, and later, some of the old locations). The sign hung around (literally) for a little while longer but in 2014 the space was finally filled with two new tenants. The left side, keeping the address, became College Depot (which moved from Parkway Square), but after the spring 2017 season, College Depot went out of business. Legacy Ace Hardware & Gifts opened in August 2018, which replaced The Bear Mountain closer to Barnes & Noble. The store (operated by the same owners of Bear Mountain) includes a Bear Mountain outdoors store inside the hardware store. Here's a picture of the co-branded former anchor from May 2014 when College Depot moved in.

Next to Planet Fitness is Lupa's Coffee. This was a Quizno's that lasted far longer than it should have (2012 closing after a long deterioration). It reopened briefly as "Big Johnson Deli", which some local press for the suggestive name, but it closed within a year or two afterwards. I believe Quizno's Subs (as it was known originally before the apostrophe was dropped) replaced a Schlotzsky's Deli (as it was also known as back then).

Linh's Nails is next to it at C101, this used to be Premiere Dance Academy in the early 2010s, then A+ Foot Massage at C102 (listed as available in 2014), then Weight Watchers (also listed as available), then Laila's Beauty Studio (replacing Young Life), then Aggieland Pregnancy Outreach (not "Aggie PC" as the chart says, this was here prior to 2014, and takes up C105 and C106). Going toward the back, there's Lit Cafe Hookah Lounge & Smoke Shop (C107), Studio Noir (C108). Studio Noir used to be the home of Gun Corps, a consignment store that specialized in guns. It closed after year end 2016 but there was a catch: their inventory was still locked up, and those guns were all collateral for loans and the bank seized everything during the bankruptcy. Many customers ended up getting their firearms back through the system but some customers ended up getting stiffed. Previously it was a short-lived restaurant called Aloha BBQ Hut. C109 is/was Gabrielle Baby & Maternity (old listings, can't verify). C110 is Vapegeek, C111 is Fusion Peru restaurant, and C112 is Sour Apple Repair. There's 555 Grill at D104 (formerly the home of Cali Chic Salon as of 2014, USA Nails before that), then at D105, the current home of Kumon Math & Reading Center (formerly the home of 4.0 & Go), then Ohana Korean Grill. This used to be a Spice Bowl, an Indian restaurant that predated Taz. I had heard it wasn't very good (this is supported by Yelp).

Prospector's Grill & Saloon (more nightclub than restaurant) opened in the spring of 2014 with a custom wooden facade (this used to be another restaurant called Kebab & Curry). After about a year, it closed when the owners stopped paying rent and skipped town, and it stood vacant for another two years before it was reopened as Rockies Night Club, their third location (originally in the mall, later in the former Weingarten in Bryan). In August 2018, a 16-hour standoff damaged the nightclub when law enforcement was forced to drive a vehicle into the restaurant, and although the nightclub reopened, it ended up closing for good in May 2019. A Hertz auto rental facility anchors the far south end (opened 2014).

I'm going to largely neglect the north side stores on Southwest Parkway, but since at least the late 1980s there was a Little Caesars here, which held fond memories for me through all of its renovations and continued to be the "go-to" pizza spot for my family until the Rock Prairie Road location opened around 2013. Originally, Little Caesars had blonde, 80s looking, wood paneling on the walls, this was removed in a 2000s renovation and replaced with black and white tiles. Eventually, a further renovation changed that, including removing a doorway to the kitchen with a traditional entrance to make the restaurant feel more open. There was also a gumball machine, and for many years had a promotion where if you got a black (grape) gumball, you'd get a free small pizza. I know I won at least once. It was great fun, but probably a bit of a money-loser and it was eventually discontinued (another discontinued item--I last saw the Baby Pan!Pan! around 2005, and even then, the packaging was dated). Prices went up and down for the Hot N Ready, sometimes $5, sometimes $6. Next door to that was a martial arts studio that closed in the early 2000s, became a sketchy video/DVD store for a few years, and then became a martial arts studio again (Academy of Modern Martial Arts). What's even more interesting is I've had people tell me that this was another video store before the first martial arts studio, called Paramount Theatre. An expansion to include music resulted in the larger space the martial arts studio has now. (Questions if the author ever practiced tae kwon do here in the mid-2000s will go without comment).

Lupa's Coffee can be seen, this filled the old Big Johnson Deli/Quizno's. I read that this used to be a Schlotzsky's Deli back in the 1990s before they moved to near Wal-Mart.
Prospector's Grill & Saloon with its new custom facade.
A Planet Fitness and College Depot now fill the former Lacks/Winn-Dixie.

The Kentucky Fried Chicken in the parking lot moved in the mid-1980s as well from Dominik Drive and renovated in the mid-2000s (exterior and interior).

Updated June 2019

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marion Pugh Drive

Officially, this post has been removed from the site, but remains up for posterity purposes. Please visit the Index for current features.

I am well aware of Marion Pugh being a real person, but the story of how Marion Pugh Drive started to become a real road started not so much with the first tenant on the stretch (Marion Pugh Lumber Co. at 101 Jersey Street West, which dated to the 1940s) but rather Tree House Apartments at 205 Jersey Street West. This would turn part of an abandoned railroad right of way (International & Great Northern, from the 1960s) into a paved alleyway with parking for the apartments. These apartments were one of the first apartments (and remain so) catering to off-campus "non-regs", which started in the 1960s.

Treehouse is the ONLY thing that hasn't changed much since this time (Courtesy Henry Mayo)

Marion Pugh Lumber Co. would eventually give way to J. Arnold Construction Co., as Marion Pugh (a former football player and class of '41) would pass away in 1976 at the age of 57. J. Arnold actually had a small railroad crossing just to the south of Jersey, which you can still see today (venture a bit south of the McDonald's and around that area)

Just to the south of that was 102 Luther, Brazos Valley Concrete, and although the concrete plant and the construction company were right next to each other, neither of them had rail access of any sort nor was Marion Pugh even connected between them: only the unpaved right of way (undoubtedly driven on) connected Luther to Marion Pugh.

At 101 Luther Street West was Schaffhauser Distributing Co. (dealing primarily in liquor). Apparently, 102 Luther was once home to the National Guard building, as Fugate's comment is replicated here (seen here).

1 comment:
Grover Fugate said...
Yes Luther extended over the railroad. That road led to the dump. Right across the railroad was a beer distributor on the left. On the right was a National Guard building.
Right past the NG bldg was a place that made charcoal for a while. Maybe two hundred yards back was a pond that we played around as kids. You can get in touch with me via Anne Boykin. I would rather answer your questions via phone or a personal meeting. Ed Hrdlicka was my Grandfater. I lived in his house with my Mom and Dad. The house was right in front of the railroad crossing.
June 19, 2011 3:46 PM

In the early 1980s, the area was officially named Marion Pugh Drive but only extended to about Luther Street West, with Treehouse adopting the new address of 200 Marion Pugh. Treehouse II (400 Marion Pugh, but originally also 205 Jersey Street West into the 1980s) would build soon after next to it, with Treehouse Village (800 Marion Pugh) soon behind, building in 1985. This put a lot of cars crossing at Luther Street West's railroad crossing, which was steep and unsignaled and was even worse after Wellborn Road (until very recently at this time, "Old College Road") was widened in the early 1980s.

At first, this doesn't seem like a big deal--after all, the 1985 map shows how Holleman can be used instead of Luther Street West, until you remember that most of those connections didn't exist in 1985. Marion Pugh didn't extend to Holleman for nearly another two decades, and never did extend to FM 2818 (unless, of course, they used the old ROW as a dirt road like they did for what is now I&GN Road, but I don't have any proof of that).

So the crossing remained with signals but no road for several months until it was finally built in early 1986, and Luther would keep their crossing open until it too was closed off (at which time, I presume, traffic was finally restored between Luther and Marion Pugh).

Sometime during the 1980s, J. Arnold would shut down, but something else would take its place: Amtrak! Amtrak came into town with the Texas Eagle in 1988 and a new station. This train connected Dallas to Houston with only two stations between: College Station (restoring a train stop) and Corsicana. Unfortunately, the train only ran until 1995, when the line was cut. The mural in the train station was moved to A&M Consolidated High School, which unfortunately, I don't have a picture of.

Amtrak didn't last too long. (from an old calendar)

After the demise of Amtrak, the concrete plant (now abandoned) had a few buildings leftover: "Traditions Night Club" wanted to open in 1997, but the city reacted to the word "nightclub" even though by the prospective owners' words it was to be less "bar" and more "normal restaurant that serves beer and wine". It didn't even have a dance hall. Probably for the better as the location was still bad (only way in was George Bush Drive or way out from 2818 via Luther). The restaurant was doomed anyway by harsh criticism from area residents, including the Marion Pugh's widow Helen Pugh. Among the arguments was that "noise, trash, and traffic would be too close to College Station's historical district", never mind that places like the dumpy Piknik Pantry and Varsity II apartments were far closer, and furthermore, around that same time, a McDonald's would build at George Bush Drive (Jersey Drive's new name) and Marion Pugh.

I initially thought this McDonald's near Marion Pugh was a rather strange and ugly specimen. In a misguided effort to fit in with campus, the McDonald's (which was built in the mid-1990s, I'd say) featured a maroon-on-white mansard roof instead of a stock yellow-on-red mansard roof. It would've looked great if the colors were flipped, but they weren't, so McDonald's truly looked like the Aggies on an away team game. Around 2003 it renovated to what it is today. In summer 2011 it suffered a bout of bad publicity when a man ate a meal there and stabbed a little girl on the way out (her father was an employee). The restaurant was also robbed that same day, and said employee later sued because these weren't the only major incidents that happened during that time frame. Yikes. It seems to be doing better now, though. I wish I had a picture of that original McDonald's, though.

At around the same time all this was happening, a "five-story women's dorm" was proposed, this would turn out to be the co-ed upscale "Callaway House", which featured its own parking garage and was the first "upscale" student apartment complex. A few years later, Callaway Villas would build and destroy Luther Street West (or what remained of it) in the process and also extending Marion Pugh to Holleman. The road now featured Treehouse Apartments (in the late 1990s briefly named College Park - Treehouse), Stadium View Apartments (formerly Tree House II), Meadows Point (formerly Treehouse Village and the pre-2005 limits of Marion Pugh), Callaway House, and others. Finally, in 2011, U-Club Townhomes were built, which opened by 2012.

Marion Pugh Drive had been expected to extend all the way to Dowling, which is why another old I-GN segment between FM 2818 (Harvey Mitchell Pkwy.) and Dowling Road was named Marion Pugh Drive for a few years, before it was renamed Jones-Butler Road in 2005 to match the new 2004 Jones-Butler Road, and was ultimately closed after the Jones-Butler segment became Holleman.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Econo Lodge, Texas Avenue

Taken in December 2015 by author.

An Econo Lodge today with an unremarkable stucco exterior, though I believe the hotel originally looked closer to what the former Waco Texian Inn looked like, it is, shall we say, one of College Station's less glamorous hotels (to put it nicely).

For many years the hotel at 104 Texas Avenue South had a bit of charm with its non-native evergreen trees, 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 wasn'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, looks like), 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 according to both Brazos CAD and phone books.

To better explain it (taken from the "City Directories" page of my main website, Carbon-izer, which itself is from old directories and phone books), here is what the hotel has been over the years.

1984: Texian Inn (according to phone book, "open fall 1984 in Bryan")
1989: Comfort Inn
1993: Comfort Inn
1999: Comfort Inn
2005: Kiva Inn
2007: Knights Inn
2014: Knights Inn
2015-: Econo Lodge (rebranded early this year?) 

When it became a Econo Lodge in early 2015, trees were removed and the reviews ended up becoming even worse. But there is a bit of history behind this one, of course. Where the motel now operates operates was once a mini-golf course (and a decent one at that, 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 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.

Editor's Note: Originally, this post was entitled "North of University Drive and South of Bryan" and covered over a dozen various properties. While interesting, it wasn't ready for prime time, leading to a major cut and rewrite in September 2019.

UPDATE 10-27-2020: Added new list of hotels over the years to make a bit easier to understand.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rebel Draft House

Imagine an old white stucco type building here.

Here it is...Rebel Draft House (or rather, 301 College Main) as it appeared in the mid-1990s (I have a color version but it's substantially more blurry). Anyway, as it appears here it was Second Chance Resale operated by the Salvation Army. Before that it was White Auto Parts, which closed sometime in the 1980s.

Of course, it doesn't look like that's not even the same building anymore. In the late 1990s, the city invested money in Northgate and tore down the old building and erected "Northgate Center" (Brazos CAD says 2002 as build date), with one of its earlier tenants being New York Sub (not sure on the spelling, nor if it was the same as the New York Subs in Southwest Crossing, though the time frame suggests that they were the same) in suite A. Well, that lasted a few years before it gave way to bars entirely (one bar actually).

I took this shot, which I pictured here in May 2014 looking east (from the other side of the building), with the Happy Yogurt facade in the front. While RBD has the distinction of serving me my first beer on Northgate (and that was only because I was on the right side of campus when that bomb threat happened in fall 2012), I don't care for it as it, like all the other bars, crank the music up so loud it's hard to hear anything (the bars probably had their best afternoon ever).

In 2011, this was Luckie's Ice House (and before that, "The Drink", apparently). Between the time as Luckie's and RBD, RBD didn't do much more than just throw the Luckie's sign away. I'm sure I'm missing other tenants, though.

Anyway, as for what it looks now from (roughly) the same angle, I took this picture in June 2014. Big change, huh? The Chase bank sign is just an ATM.

Updated October 2015 with fixed errors and links. Further update in March 2019 to account for new building, with April 2020 updates fixing links