What's next for Sharpstown Mall?

HOUSTON Plans for redevelopment have been on the table since March and will move forward regardless. The big question is to what degree? The issue is money and time is running out.

Years ago, Sharpstown Mall used to be the place to shop. Shoppers say these days it looks like a virtual ghost town.

"I don't know if people are scared because of the area that it's in. I still come here and shop," said shopper Morris Long.

With many of the bigger, well-known stores like Macy's long gone, foot traffic nowhere near what it used to be and violent crime in the area up almost 11 percent, the situation is dire.

"It would be nice for this to become something bigger and better," said shopper Delfino Perez.

Bigger and better? How about a $26 million renovation which would include a mall with upgraded security, a grocery store, a re-designed movie theater, and family attractions?

"Make it something that is a centerpiece for the community that will not only benefit the mall itself but also the areas around that mall that depend on it for economic vitality," said Justin Segal of Boxer Property.

While the company that manages the mall says its owner, Sharpstown Mall of Texas (SMT), is willing to put up most of the funds, the tax authority that oversees the mall's redevelopment has yet to commit the remaining public money needed for the project.

In a letter outlining the proposal, SMT says if the board can't make a decision by Friday, October 30, it shall be forced to "go it alone."

Segal added, "I just don't think it is going to be the same kind of holistic community development that the TIRZ (tax authority) and the neighborhood would like to see."

But the tax authority is standing its ground. The executive director told us, "That's their deadline. The board is intent on meeting at our regular time next week at which time we'll consider details of the proposal." Excited shoppers like the idea, yet they wonder how viable it will be as a deal has yet to be reached.

"It's good for families. They could come and spend the weekends here," said shopper Susan Galgamez.

The board is scheduled to meet on November 5 and we'll be sure to keep you posted.

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