First Colony Mall
Sign at US 59 freeway entrance
|Location||Sugar Land, Texas, USA|
|Opening date||March 14, 1996|
|Owner||General Growth Properties|
|No. of stores and services||150|
|No. of anchor tenants||3|
|Total retail floor area||1,110,000 sq ft (103,000 m2).|
|No. of floors||1|
First Colony Mall is a regional shopping mall in Sugar Land, Texas, located about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Houston. The mall — located south of the intersection of Interstate 69 and State Highway 6—opened on March 14, 1996 and was recently expanded in 2006. First Colony Mall is owned by General Growth Properties and is anchored by two Dillard's locations, Macy's, and JCPenney, as well as as a 24-screen AMC Theatres complex located on an outlying parcel southeast of the mall.
The mall had been planned as a key component of the First Colony master-planned community since its planning stages. Before the mall's opening, many Fort Bend County residents often traveled to Sharpstown Mall, Westwood Mall or West Oaks Mall for retail services. Construction was delayed for several years due to the economic fallout in Houston from the 1980s oil glut as well as a competing mall proposal in the nearby New Territory development. Eventually, the First Colony proposal came to fruition and the land for the proposed mall at New Territory has since become the planned community of River Park.
First Colony Mall opened on March 14, 1996 as the first regional shopping mall in Fort Bend County, with a single-level format similar in design to nearby West Oaks Mall that was positioned as being "family-friendly", with carpeted walkways and skylights. The original anchors were Foley's, Dillard's, JCPenney and Mervyn's, the latter store of which opened as the first (and only) Mervyn's California in Greater Houston; consequently the mall would become the first regional mall in Houston since the Galleria to open without a Sears store, as the upscale demographics of the surrounding area (and Sears' eventual decline in prominence as a retailer) did not necessitate such a need. In addition, the mall also opened with over 100 stores and a food court, dubbed the Sugar Land Cafes. The mall's opening would significantly impact Sharpstown, West Oaks and Westwood malls, with the latter closing the following year and converting to a technology-focused office complex.
On February 16, 1998, a tornado damaged the mall and the Sugar Land Aerodrome ice skating complex located south of the mall. The tornado hit the southwest corner of the Dillard's store and caused a support wall to collapse. Part of the interior was damaged and 5-6 inches of water accumulated inside the store. The tornado also damaged an exterior wall at the JCPenney store, and also damaged part of the roof and the mall's sprinkler system, resulting in water damage to several specialty stores in the mall. No one was injured in the tornado, even though two patrons in the nearby ice skating complex sought medical attention on their own, which was surprising given the President's Day shopping crowd present that day.
Over time, as the Sugar Land area grew both physically and economically, and Sharpstown and West Oaks began to lose more prominent national chains, First Colony Mall slowly began to add more upscale stores such as Williams-Sonoma and newer concepts including Hollister Co. to its specialty store lineup. In 2005, the mall's first anchor change occurred when Mervyn's announced it would close its First Colony location as the chain exited Houston entirely. At the same time, the mall underwent an expansion that added an open-air "lifestyle" wing in front of the main entrance, anchored by bookseller Barnes & Noble which relocated from an adjacent shopping center and a courtyard of restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory and Grimaldi's Pizzeria. The expansion resulted in the addition of several upscale stores as well as a minor re-merchandising of the mall's inline tenants, including a new Apple Store.
Since the lifestyle wing was built on the front parking lot, parking garages were also built in front of the Dillard's and Macy's stores to alleviate parking problems created by the new addition, and traffic lights were also installed at the intersection of Town Center Boulevard North and the east side of the mall's ring road to alleviate extreme traffic problems at the main entrance. Shortly after the completion of the "lifestyle" wing, another anchor change occurred as Foley's converted to Macy's in September 2006 following Federated Department Stores' acquisition of Foley's parent company, May Department Stores the prior year. Dillard's would also fill the former Mervyn's location, focusing on men's clothing and housewares, by 2009. As of 2014, the mall has over 140 stores with a tenant mix consisting largely of a mix of traditional mall tenants and higher-end retailers—–indicative of the surrounding area's affluent demographics.
The mall's surrounding area has also evolved with the addition of Sugar Land Town Square, numerous "big box" retail centers, a Sugar Land campus of Houston Methodist Hospital, and a 24-screen AMC Theatres cinema that is also one of the few multiplex cinemas in Greater Houston to feature a constant mix of first-run blockbusters, independent films, documentaries and foreign films which reflect the diversity and economic strength of the Sugar Land area.
- Dillard's (210,000 sq ft., opened 1996)
- Dillard's Men (84,000 sq ft., opened 1996 as Mervyns, closed 2006, reopened June 2008)
- JCPenney (125,000 sq ft., opened 1996)
- Macy's (200,000 sq ft., opened 1996 as Foley's, became Macy's in 2006)