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West Oaks Turns 30, Goes Nontraditional

Houston Retail

West Oaks Mall turned 30 this year (or 29 for the second time), but it looks very different than you might remember from your childhood (and maybe different than any mall you’ve ever seen). Pacific Retail SVP of asset management Gary Karl tells us his firm purchased the property in 2010 and has invested $50M into it. That includes converting the former Mervyn’s wing into an Edwards Theater surrounded by a plaza of restaurants. It’s also added a slew of alternative uses, like leasing the long-vacant JCPenney to Fortis Technical College (get your degree and maybe some undershirts) and bringing in Katy Visual Performing Arts Center, Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield enrollment center, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill (which has live music and dancing).


The result: West Oaks Mall is 92% occupied (up from the low 80s in 2010) and sales have increased $75/SF in four years to $300/SF. Gary tells us the goal is to bring in tenants that are destinations themselves. (The food court in particular benefits—students just can’t get enough of Panda Express, and that first date at the theater wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Roman Delight Pizza.) He says that although malls are experimenting with new types of tenants, they’re doing the same thing they always have: Being part of the community and a great gathering place.