SHARPSTOWN MALL: HOUSTON, TX
Ash Hussain's Commentary
User submitted April 19, 2008
Sharpstown Mall is a mall that is on the verge of death. To give you some historical background on this center I would point you to the wikipedia page that has detailed information. This mall opened in 1961 in the heart of what was then a thriving and upscale community of Sharpstown in southwest Houston. The homes were all new or recent construction from the 1950s and the apartments were occupied by well to do younger people. This was the first air conditioned indoor mall in Houston so it was a big deal.
My family did not move to Houston until the late 70s so my memories of this place are mostly from the 1980s when I was a child. The mall thrived from the opening day to the late 1980s. They had many chain stores like JC Penny, Montgomery Ward, Petland, GNC, Camelot Music, Merry Go Round, etc.. When I was a kid I used to always go to the video arcade located right in front of JC Penny.
During the 1980s the mall was mostly unchanged from what it had been since the 1960s. The floor was done in a circular red tile decoration with all elevator and stair structures in a dark brown paint. Every Christmas season a giant tree was setup at the center of the mall near the escalators with photo shoots with Santa and a mini train ride for the kids nearby. As time marched on into the 90s things like this started to vanish.
The demise of the mall is entirely attributed to the suburban decay that plagued the community of Sharpstown. The main problem was the poor planning in terms of how many apartment complexes were built in the area; TOO MANY! As newer apartments opened in areas further south along nearby highway 59 competition got tough and properties lowered their standards to get renters. The young professionals who used to live in this area were replaced by thugs, gang members, illegal aliens, etc. Drugs, theft, prostitution, robbery, etc…all thrived in the apartments and spilled over into the mall. The parking garage located near the Foley’s store was a haven for car thieves but other crime in the 90s was restricted to teenage punks using spray paint on walls and stealing car stereos.
The mall underwent a major facelift in the early 90s. The red floors were removed, new sheetrock went in, and a porcupine mascot promoted the place. Sadly, it was all downhill from then on. The crimes escalated from small time criminal mischief to assaults and shootings on the grounds. Most of the better retailers pulled out in the late 90s and the whole place became home to small independent shops selling X brand merchandise. Shady stores selling “urban wear” which is code for pimp and hooker clothes proliferated. In 2008 two of the last tenants who had been there since 1961 closed shop. Fingers furniture store and Macy’s (formerly Foley’s) shuttered their doors and the mall became a shell of its self. Although there have not been any formal plans to demolish the center the end is very near. The bankrupt owner of the property is delinquent on property taxes and has the mall up for sale. If and when it changes hands I don’t see how a wrecking ball will not be in the cards.