History and museums, Shopping
The Galleria, stylized theGalleria or the Houston Galleria, is an upscale mixed-use urban development centrally located in the Uptown District of Houston, Texas, United States. The development consists of a retail complex, as well as the Galleria Office Towers complex, two Westin hotels, and a private health club. The office towers and hotels are separately owned and managed from the shopping center.
With 3 million total square feet of space that includes 2.4 million of gross leasable area with over 375 stores, the Galleria is the largest mall in Texas and eighth-largest in the United States. It is currently anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's.
The idea of an indoor shopping center with a hotel was envisioned in the 1940s by oilman Glenn H. McCarthy where a second phase was to include the Shamrock Hotel; this concept was scrapped right after the Hilton Hotel franchise took over the Shamrock in 1955. Glenn H. McCarthy's abandoned concept would influence Gerald Hines in the late 1960s.
The Galleria was developed by Gerald D. Hines, opening on November 16, 1970. The new shopping center, anchored by Neiman Marcus, was modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, borrowing, as its most distinctive architectural feature, a glazed barrel vault spanning the central axis of the mall. When it opened the mall had 600,000 ft² (56,000 m²) of retail space. The original skylights — which graced among other things a large, floor-level, ice rink, open year round - had three hanging chandeliers along with the incorporation of the Houston Oaks Hotel (now The Westin Oaks Houston).
The first expansion, known as Galleria II, was completed in 1976 and added 360,000 ft² (33,000 m²) of retail space on two levels, as well as Lord & Taylor and Frost Bros. Marshall Field's joined the mall in 1979, in a store designed by noted architect Philip Johnson. Galleria II included office space (known as the Galleria Financial Center since the early 1990s) and a second hotel, the Galleria Plaza Hotel (now The Westin Galleria Houston). In 1986, a second expansion, Galleria III, opened with a new wing to the west of Marshall Field's, anchored by Macy's. This brought the mall to almost 1.6 million ft².
In February 1989 the Galleria was 93% occupied, making it the mall with the fifth highest percentage of occupied space in the Houston area.
Marshall Field's sold its store to Saks Fifth Avenue in 1996, while the mall itself was sold by Hines Interests in 1999 to a partnership of Urban Shopping Centers, Inc. and institutional funds advised by Walton Street Capital, LLC. The Walton Street affiliated funds separately purchased the office and hotel buildings at this time. Urban, in turn, was purchased by Netherlands-headquartered real estate investment group Rodamco North America, N.V. in 2000. Rodamco sold part of its stake in 2001 to the real estate investment arm of CalPERS as it tried to thwart a hostile takeover by a consortium including The Westfield Group and Simon Property Group. Ultimately unsuccessful in preventing the buyout, Rodamco's ownership interest and management operation of the mall was acquired by Simon Property Group in early 2002.
During all these rapid ownership changes, development continued on a third expansion of the shopping center, known as Galleria IV. Completed in March 2003, it added 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2) to the south, anchored by Nordstrom and Foley's, as well as an additional 70 stores. Upon completion of Galleria IV, the shopping mall totaled 2.4 million ft² (220,000 m²) of retail space which include many high-end boutiques, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Kate Spade, Cartier, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Bvlgari, Valentino, Coach, Fendi, Chanel, Christofle, Tiffany & Co. Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Versace, Prada, and Tory Burch.
In January 2005, Lord & Taylor closed their store, with its former space being partially demolished and incorporated into the mall as an additional 100,000 ft² (9,300 m²) of retail space that opened in August 2006. This redevelopment included a Kona Grill, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Del Frisco's Steakhouse, Gigi's Asian Bistro, and nine other retail stores. During the reconstruction, some of the former Lord & Taylor infrastructure was recycled although a section of catwalks dating back to the Galleria II's 1976 expansion was demolished; this trend was similar to the Galleria IV's expansion in 2002.
In 2005, after the merger of the parent companies of Macy's and Foley's, it was announced that the Macy's store would close and that the Foley's would be renamed Macy's. The Foley's was renamed in September 2006, but the original Macy's continues to operate, both as separate full-line department stores.
Forbes ranked the Galleria as one of the world's best shopping malls.
The first Tesla Motors and only Prada stores in Texas are located in the Galleria.
With 35 million annual visitors, The Galleria has constantly been named the most visited attraction in Greater Houston. Department stores and other tenants earn their highest sales in the Houston area at the Galleria.
Dillard's, which technically is not a part of the Galleria, is located across the street from Neiman Marcus. The store is linked to the Galleria by a pedestrian crosswalk (with a pedestrian-only traffic light at Post Oak Boulevard). This location ranks constantly among the highest grossing for Dillard's.
Macy's (Galleria III) (262,600 sq ft., opened 1986, redubbed in 2006 as "Macy's at Sage") permanently closed in April 2014. Galleria III was demolished and is being rebuilt as a new wing with Saks Fifth Avenue as anchor. The existing Saks will be repurposed as part of the new Galleria III wing.
Surrounding the Galleria are other upscale shopping centers such as BLVD Place, Uptown Collection, Uptown Park, Rice Village, and Highland Village that feature similar stores and retail mix.
The Galleria includes a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) ice skating facility with 80 feet (24 m) x 180-foot (55 m) rink. The rink, known as "Polar Ice" and originally built in 1970, was the first ever built inside a mall. The rink is positioned below the mall's central glass atrium which was originally added by Hines to increase the visibility of the stores in the lower level. There is a jogging track on the roof around the atrium with a view to this rink. About 50 restaurants and specialty food stores at all prices and service points are located throughout the Galleria complex.
Two Westin hotels are also located directly in the Galleria complex, The Westin Galleria and the Westin Oaks (prior to 1984, both hotels were known as the Galleria Plaza Hotel and Houston Oaks Hotel when Westin Hotels and Resorts was known as Western International Hotels).
The Galleria has three office towers with Galleria Financial Center acting as the hub of the mall where the shops and offices share a common atrium with glass elevators and offices overlooking the mall below. The Galleria Financial Center is occupied by many financial institutions such as Merrill Lynch, UBS AG, Citigroup, law offices, financial services companies and energy trading companies. The other to office buildings are Post Oak Tower, and the Galleria Tower additionally Williams Tower is also connected by a walkway.