Friday, May 9, 2014

Redmond Terrace Shopping Center / Texas Avenue Crossing

Author's picture from August 2019. The overcast makes the buildings appear shadowed.

Among the retail establishments off of Texas Avenue is Texas Avenue Crossing (a name not seen on signage, by the way) is also the only strip center for miles around with rooftop parking. If you have lived in College Station for more than six months, you've probably been here: it has (as of this writing) a Panda Express, Cold Stone, World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Jason's Deli, and DoubleDave's. Of course, it wasn't always like that, and prior to 2003 (roughly), it was a completely different center. Opening in the 1960s at Jersey and Texas Avenue on a dairy farm, Redmond Terrace Shopping Center was the first strip center in College Station and featured a variety of stores, including a Ben Franklin five and ten, Brookshire Brothers, a post office, and Gibson's. All of these were housed under a continuous "squiggly roof" (not unlike the defunct discount store The Treasury). Here's one of the few photos I have of the original configuration, from a photo of a photo.

Gibson's, of course, was the main anchor. When this article was originally published in 2014, no Wikpedia article existed, but now it does. The Dallas stores even included full supermarkets in theirs. While the Gibson's here never contained such a thing, it did include a garden center and pharmacy, the latter indicated by this December 1971 ad from our very own The Eagle. It may have even had a snack bar.

Get "Monoply" for the kids!

From what I've read, though, Gibson's was a dump (I've heard someone tell me it smelled like tires). If we fast-forward, things started to change at Redmond stores changed, the squiggly roof went away, but only partially, leaving the center very disjointed looking. Academy would demolish or extensively renovate the Gibson's space. The Brookshire Brothers space was replaced with Piggly Wiggly early on (it was not very large at all, much smaller than Navasota's or Hearne's Brookshire Brothers), though Brookshire Brothers did get another chance in College Station when it opened a new store on George Bush Drive West many years later. The post office was replaced with Joe's Used Books.

Compared to the top picture, this is how it's supposed to look color-wise. (Picture by author, 8/19)

Jason's Deli (a Stacy's Furniture for a time, by address) would be on the far right of the center. Other stores included Burdett & Son's and Loupot's, as well as a mattress/furniture liquidator. Here's a picture of Burdett & Son's, in which you can see the original figuration as well.

Burdett & Son was here from 1997 to 2002, as says their website. Copy Corner is off to the right.

At the corner of George Bush and Texas was a Shell gas station with a Zip'N convenience store, but it was extremely small (or am I just remembering this wrong?). This went first with little more than some remains in a raised section of concrete to show that something was here.

Here's the directory listings for what the center was like as Redmond Terrace.

1400 - Stand-alone Zip'N gas station (Shell) at the corner of George Bush (Jersey) and Texas Avenue. May have replaced an older gas station, only 1,000 square feet. This went first with little more than some remains in a raised section of concrete to show that something was here.
1710 George Bush Drive - Not part of the 1400 block, but Joe's Books in the late 1990s was the closest to the George Bush side.
1402 - Brown's Shoe Fit from sometime in the 1980s to the early 2000s
1404 - Copy Corner
1404A - Jason's Deli. I remember how Jason's Deli was one of the last buildings to be torn down, and the first to be rebuilt.
1406 - Piggly Wiggly in 1976, and later Burdett & Sons by 1997 (to 2002)
1408 - The directory for 1998 lists "Vincent AC" or something like that, but I only remember a mattress liquidator being here.
1410 - AR Photography
1418 - Gibson's Discount Center in 1976 and Academy by the mid-1980s. By the 1990s it was rebadged as 1420, possibly due to an expansion in the late 1980s.
1422 - Loupot's Book Store. This moved to the center at Holleman and Texas Avenue and is a Salata today. This appears to be originally part of Gibson's, and originally had a south entrance (unknown if it was re-sealed later) for a garden center.

In 2001, Redmond Terrace would lose its largest anchor when Academy announced it would move out to the bypass (the new store opened February 2002, a store now closed and replaced by an even larger one), and shortly thereafter it was announced that the entire shopping center would be wrecked for a new center: Texas Avenue Crossing. While one portion was saved and rehabbed (Mattress Giant and Pier One Imports, and I think this was where Jason's Deli originally was), the rest was demolished and built anew, featuring a mostly stable line-up of tenants.

On top of Bed Bath & Beyond to Jason's Deli is that rooftop parking area, but it's never been very full. An elevator takes you back near BB&B.

Over at the Shell spot, a new plaza was built with Panda Express (new to the market), Complete Nutrition (formerly "Bath Junkie"), James Avery Craftsman (originally something else?), and Cold Stone Creamery (new to the market).

TAC remains rather popular, having brought new retailers to the market and a popular lunch spot with inexpensive restaurants (Jason's Deli, particularly, remains a popular after-church spot).

Here's the current directory.

1400 - Panda Express in the strip center that replaced the Shell.
1404 - Formerly Bath Junkie from 2005 to 2009, later Complete Nutrition. Bath Junkie may or may not have been one of the first to go in here. (1402 not used)
1406 - James Avery jewelry store. May or may not have replaced another ~2005 tenant.
1408 - Cold Stone Creamery.
1410 - DoubleDave's Pizzaworks at the north end of the center.
1414 - European Wax Center (1412 not used), originally Urban Salon.
1416 - Charming Charlie. For some reason I remember this coming after the other stores, but I can't remember if it replaced anything. It was one of the first of that chain open (the chain launched in 2004, and this was only store #5 out of nearly 400). In August 2019, the store and the 260 other stores in the chain (at the time) announced it would go out of business.
1418 - Formerly Mattress Giant and later transformed into another MattressFirm location (it happened not long after they had built a store at the former Blockbuster at Holleman)
1424 - Pier 1 Imports, moved from space near the mall. This announced closing in early 2020 shortly before Pier 1 filed for bankruptcy protection. 1420 and 1422 not used.
1430 - Bed Bath & Beyond. 1424-1428 not used.
1440 - Pine Boutique. For years Ritz Camera & Image, closed in 2012, one of the last ones to close. 1432-1438 not used.
1446 - Palm Beach Tan (originally Darque Tan for years)
1450 - Total Wine & More opened in 2022. Formerly World Market. 1448 not used.
1460 - Jason's Deli. 1452-1458 not used.

UPDATE 09-15-2021: World Market began going out of business sales in December 2020, putting the screws to yet another business in the center. Also updated Bath Junkie's dates and implied that Brookshire Bros. would be covered in the future.
UPDATE 02-17-2023: Added Total Wine & More.
UPDATE 02-10-2024: Some updates to report that have not been integrated to the page. DoubleDave's announced on TexAgs that the George Bush/Texas location would close May 1, 2023. Also, in late July 2023 Bed Bath & Beyond closed with the bankruptcy of the chain and was replaced with Burlington (formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, but like At Home the store opened too late for CS to see the "original" name). I still do have a few pictures of the strip center pre-remodel but that will have to wait.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


This ad appeared in a publication shortly before coming to College Station. (Google Books)

Before Wal-Mart, there was Kmart, at least locally. But both were founded in 1962, and in 1954 there was already a "Mart" in San Diego, FedMart, founded by Sol Price. In fact, the late Sam Walton "borrowed" a number of concepts from FedMart, including the "Mart" suffix (the rest of the concept was lifted liberally from Ann & Hope, which ironically Wal-Mart forced out of business in 2001).

FedMart was called such because it was only open as a membership-only store to government employees but this was dropped by the 1960s. In November 1973, a few months before Kmart arrived, FedMart came knocking on the county's door and featured "one-stop shopping" including not only apparel, sporting goods, and other dry goods, but a complete supermarket.

Sorry, you won't be able to click for larger size on this one.

The FedMart at 701 University Drive East (like all FedMart stores at the time) was not a "full" supermarket, only offering a few brands and sizes of a given item that a full supermarket would carry more of.

I don't have a picture of FedMart when it was operating, but given an old early '80s map depicts the now-closed store as looking almost exactly like one of the San Antonio stores, it's assumed that the College Station looked like it too.

Aerial photo of FedMart around the time it closed, c. 1981

The auto center appears to have been built into the store itself, but the liquor store (FM Liquors) was at a different address, 707 University Drive East, at the corner of the newly-built Fed-Mart Drive (later East Tarrow Drive) and University Drive East.

FedMart's time in College Station would only be for less than a decade, perhaps owing to upper management's decisions (based out of Germany) to expand to a full "hypermarket", which didn't really work in most of the locations (and the concept was largely untested in the United States). The College Station store, along with all the other stores in the Texas division (San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Victoria, etc.) closed in November 1981. The chain's Arizona and California stores went out of business less than a year later.

FedMart's death left a large building in a not-all-that-great location abandoned, and it was soon converted to other uses. Kettle (No. 145) opened a location at the site, with the chain reaching an all-time high of five locations in Bryan-College Station alone (as mentioned in the page on the current College Station Kettle).

Eventually, the building was expanded into a full strip center. From what I can tell, tenant numbers weren't really done in the center, so I'll share what I have. While the building was not demolished until around 2016, the center began clearing out in the very early 2010s, after a long drama that briefly had the center under city ownership (since 2008) as part of a failed bid to build a large hotel/conference center.

A&M Travel Service - Listed as a tenant in 1993.

Beneficial Texas Inc. - 1993 tenant, subsidiary of Beneficial Corporation (insurance)

Chimney Hill Bowling Center - One of the center's biggest options, here in the mid to late 1980s but not listed in a 1993 directory. Indications are that when Wolf Pen Bowling opened around 1994, the lanes moved here, and there wasn't a huge gap between Chimney Hill's closing and Wolf Pen's opening. The space ended up being used as storage for other uses.

Chimney Hill Florist & Gifts - Here as of 1993.

Confederate House - The Confederate House restaurant, a spin-off of the Confederate House restaurant in Houston opened in 1983 in a newly-built space. Unfortunately, it opened at the worst time for an upscale restaurant (according to Bill Edge, it wasn't even supposed to be an upscale restaurant). A rename to Tradition Restaurant & Bar (ad below) around 1985 did little to restore the prospects, and by 1986, it was closed.

David Gardner's Jewelers - This upscale local jewelry store was originally at Chimney Hill (as of 1993) before moving east at some point.

Kettle - Previously mentioned above, presumed to take part of the center that was the original FedMart, did not last more than a few years.

Qualice Network Services - Listed as a tenant in 1993.

Rembrandt's - A restaurant that succeeded Confederate House/Tradition. Around in the early 1990s.

The Republic - Also known as The Republic Steakhouse, or The Republic 1836 Steakhouse, opened in 2006, and was the very last to leave the old Chimney Hill/FedMart building, even as the rest of the building was demolished. (See the bottom of the article for the new building information).

Shakes Frozen Custard - This wasn't actually in the center, it was a new-build building at the corner of Tarrow and University. Closing in fall of 2010 and being demolished in 2011, the brick building at the corner of Tarrow and University is no more. The air conditioning gave out and the owner was unwilling to fix it. It did move however under new ownership--to Carrollton, Texas before it closed for good in March 2019.

The Tavern on Chimney Hill - Existed in the late 1990s, succeeded Rembrandt's and preceded The Republic steakhouse restaurant.

Western Beverages - Western Beverages was located in a large wedge-shaped build-out closest to the Albertsons/Randalls side of the building, and was one of the last ones to leave (as late as early 2014).

715 University Drive East (probably the original 707) was the home of the Bryan-College Station Convention & Visitor's Bureau but around the early 2010s or late 2000s they moved out, and the building was demolished ahead of the rest of the building's demo. I know I went in there at least once for the latest copy for the official Bryan-College Station map (which is rife with errors that never get corrected, but that's another story).

The old FedMart met with some success as a shopping center (even including a bowling alley at one time), and later down the road was bought to be redeveloped into a convention center for the city, but that even failed and it dwindled down to little more than the Republic Steakhouse (very upscale, accessed from the east end) and a Western Beverages (in a section that was newly built out from the original).

After the city sold it at a loss, there were plans for it to be a multi-story/mixed-use building which would demolish the remaining building except for The Republic, which wasn't part of the original 1973 building. This got far enough along to make it into a New Development listing and even had a promise of Houston-based Black Walnut Cafe opening a location, but ultimately it fell through and was replaced with a rather simple redevelopment that would leave it looking much like the rest of University Drive East, with a new building for The Republic, a new Starbucks, and space for a Drury Inn.

In December 2018, a new The Republic restaurant opened at the corner of University Drive East and Tarrow Street, keeping the 701 University Drive East designation, and the last of Chimney Hill was demolished. The new Republic steakhouse had a bar-within-a-restaurant, the Primrose Path wine bar. Less than a year later, Starbucks opened a coffeeshop at 709 University Drive East (replacing a location at the Gateway less than a mile away) next to it.

UPDATE 06-21-2021: This post was last updated in July 2020. Five Guys opened a store near the corner of East Tarrow and University East in early June. The whole post needs a major re-do soon. Also removed [1980s].

Sunday, April 6, 2014

PLAY Gaming Café

Taken June 2014.

Once a Planned Parenthood location a long time ago (likely something else, built in 1964), this is now a bar (Cedar Lane, another bar is in the back), but the focus is on PLAY Gaming Café, which was open around 2005 and advertised at Hastings (another now-defunct establishment). The College Main location was tucked out of sight from the main Northgate establishments, and related parking problems didn't help. From the comments, I have this quote from "downhillcrasher", "I remember Play pretty well, they had everything from the latest games to old school nintendo. Almost everything that is. What didn't they have? Cheap beer. And what do you need to make it in Northgate? Cheap beer." The archived website website sort of works, but almost nothing remains of it on the Wayback Machine save for a Flash intro video and a page of the forums (appropriately, from 2005).\

303 College Main

Friday, March 21, 2014

H-E-B Pantry / Gattitown / DSW

The store today (picture mine). The facade just keeps getting bigger and bigger...

H-E-B built its first store in College Station in 1991 (according to InSite Magazine) at 2026 Texas Avenue South, a time when they were starting to expand H-E-B from outside of its confines in Central Texas toward East Texas, Houston, and even Louisiana. College Station-Bryan got three of them in 1991 before the first Houston stores in 1992.

Unlike the full line H-E-B stores, the Pantry stores were small even by early 1990s standards (averaging 20k to 30k square feet) and lacked departments that other stores had, only with a meat counter, produce, and a very small collection (maybe one aisle) of non-food items like HBA (health & beauty aids) and pet items. At the same time, two more stores were built in Bryan, one near the intersection of Twin Boulevard and South Texas Avenue, and one near the intersection of Old Hearne Road and North Texas Avenue.

I'm still mad that I lost both of my store directories for this store, which in addition to showing the layout also listed all of the H-E-B Pantry stores, though you can see the list here on Houston Historic Retail.

Instead of parking spaces in front of it like the other stores in the center, it had a large ramp in front of it for shoppers. Inside, it had mid-rising drop ceilings with a few random "Texas" graphics, such as a picture of a bunch of haybales scattered through a field. The produce was in the right side, there were ten check-out stands (with one being an express lane, 10 items or less), a photo developing kiosk, a "bakery" that didn't seem to make anything that fresh (fare was mostly limited to some tasteless bagels, the stuff that would be sold in the bread aisle today).

In 2002, this store closed and was replaced with the massive and modern store across Holleman. That wasn't the end for the space, though in summer 2003, Gattiland closed its Bryan location and moved into the old Pantry Foods store within the month. Although I was getting too old to be part of the Gattitown demographic by the time it opened, I visited anyway, because it was new, and it was to be the latest in the technology. Gattitown totally rebuilt the facade (the Texas part remained visible from the back, but unless you lived in one of the apartments behind the complex, you could not see it) and removed the ramp in the parking lot, making it smooth. You also had to enter through the sides.

“When we built [the Bryan location] it was the second GattiLand we built,” Moffett said. “This is the latest generation, and it’s going to be more comfortable and fun for every age. From here on out, they’re all going to be GattiTowns.”

This is the sixth restaurant to open under the GattiTown name and “eatertainment” theme, and each is decorated to reflect its community, Moffett said. At the College Station restaurant, an Aggieland Dining Room will be lined with reproductions of Benjamin Knox paintings. The drink station is positioned beneath a mock water tower, and other rooms include a city hall and a mock movie theater.

The game room will occupy the entire back section of the restaurant, but Moffett said adults can find quiet dining areas in a corner cafe and the Library, which will have high-speed Internet connections and five iMac computers for customer use.

Moffett said he plans to hire a full-time marketing employee to promote the restaurant’s meeting space, which is free to use once customers buy a meal. There also are two meeting rooms set apart from the customer traffic flow, and some of the dining rooms have sliding walls that can divide them into smaller spaces.

The "mock water tower" was modeled after by-then defunct old water tower at the corner of Park Place and Texas Avenue, and as for the "Library", I never did find (employees didn't seem to know where it was, a sign of bad things to come), but it apparently did exist and was soon converted into another theater room. The midway area wasn't all that better than Gattiland, if anything, it seemed smaller. There wasn't even room for a playground. The old style tokens that Gattiland used was replaced by a card system.

Well, initially Gattitown was a huge success and the parking lot stayed packed every Friday and Saturday night. But as the years wore on, Gattitown started to get competition in the form of Chuck E. Cheese which opened at Post Oak Mall in 2005, and at Grand Central Station, which happened soon after. Chuck E. Cheese did the most damage to Gattitown, with Gattitown's knockoff formula competing with the original, and just like that, Gattitown slid downhill just like its predecessor. It was pretty much exclusively for kids (no classic arcades, or even alcohol) for that matter, and even then stayed pretty empty except for the "Kids Eat Free" nights. In July 2012, Gattitown closed. The pizza was now abysmal (not even fully cooked) and Mr. Gatti's left the area for good after nearly 40 years of jumping around town.

It wasn't the end of the space, though: in fall of 2013, it reopened as DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse). Despite the fact that the facade of the old Gattitown/Pantry was completely covered up, the design restored the appearance of a retail store, so if you go inside and close your eyes you can almost remember how the Pantry used to be laid out.

In the same shopping center (developed by H-E-B originally), there's also Hastings, built after H-E-B, and later became Havertys.

2006 - Star Nails
2008 - Originally Sir Knight Tuxedoes (1996-2005) and later The Pita Pit (operated from 2006 to around 2021)
2010 - Marble Slab Creamery
2048 - Scoots (scooter rental)
2050 - Freebirds World Burrito
2050E - Old Navy (took up unused space but added a new facade, opened 1998).

UPDATE 02-24-2022: Updated for Pita Pit's closure, adding the tuxedo store previously mentioned, did some rearranging to list Old Navy with the others (along with a fixed date), and updated an old sentence to account for Hastings' closure.
UPDATE 04-04-2023: Our sister site Carbon-izer did manage to have the H-E-B Pantry College Station picture submitted to them through an anonymous contributor. Check it out here! Some of the first paragraphs have been changed, including linking to a Bryan store.
UPDATE 06-30-2023: In fall 2022, a new restaurant, Champion Pizza, opened in the former Pita Pit, but it probably won't last the year—a photo from TexAgs shows the odd, short hours the pizza restaurant actually has (even if it IS from NYC).