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