Carbon-izer Presents Northwest Freeway (Inner Belt)

CARBON-IZER PRESENTS THE NORTHWEST FREEWAY (INNER BELT)

This is Version 3.0 of the Northwest Freeway Inner Belt page, a "translation" of many of the pages at the old blog page with some updates applied. Note that in honor of the legacy versions of this page, the addresses will go in reverse order (heading INTO Houston).

Version 3.0 of this page upgrades the page to common formatting, fixes spelling of Katy Freeway (at the bottom), and...
* merged Bombshells into the new Fairbanks Plaza section (including and updating all blog content, including Runaway Trains), rolled four entries into new Northwest Crossing section, merged Luby's into Northbrook Center, merged Denny's into Northway Shopping Center
* updated Studio 6 ("colorful" is better descriptor than "flashier"), The Home Depot (new opening date), McDonald's (self-hosted photo), 14045 Northwest Freeway (the former Cavender's), Cinemark Tinseltown 290 and XD (now with movies showing in 1996!), Pappas Bar-B-Q (previously misplaced), 12914 Northwest Freeway (the former Hooters), Greater TEXAS Credit Union (Pinemont information), 12714 Northwest Freeway (former Carl's Jr; incorporated Gold Cup/Gallagher's), 12503 Northwest Freeway (former Exxon), Fairfield Inn & Suites (Federal Plaza Drive--clarification), Chevron (Jack's Grocery), T-Mobile, Jason's Deli, Captain Benny's (rewritten), Bennigan's (renamed to "Los Cucos", hasn't been a Bennigan's for some time now), 10515 Northwest Freeway (typo), Sunset Strip (integrated Mangum notes), Shell/Burger King (redundant address), and Northwest Mall (new mall map c. 2008!)
* adds 14380 Northwest Freeway (former Jones Carpet One), Allegiance Bank, Public Storage (at Guhn Road), Northwest Marketplace, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappasito's Cantina, Chili's, Fuddruckers, STARS Auto Repair (at Bingle), Americas Best Value Inn & Suites, Northwest Freeway Center (officially), Exxon (at Antoine, the site of the "old dead Chevron"), 11350 Northwest Freeway (incorporates Al's Tuxedo building)
* removes Hightime 24/7 Video (removed for rewrite), 24 Hour Fitness (removed for rewrite--24 Hour Fitness gone)

SAM HOUSTON PARKWAY to GESSNER ROAD

This section is where this section of Northwest Freeway begins. For more on US-290 from the Grand Parkway to Beltway 8, please visit this link.
Stonehaven Apartments / 15301 Northwest Freeway
Stonehaven Apartments opened right on the frontage road next to the park and ride ramp around 2007. They have no other access, and because they have low-income units for rent, it was partially paid with taxpayer money. It features 192 units and originally had a drainage area/pond in front the apartments, which disappeared in favor of a new frontage road when the freeway was widened.

Hotel Preet / 14996 Northwest Freeway
Originally a Holiday Inn from the early 1980s until sometime around 2003, 2004, my 2002 directory (of Holiday Inn) says that this had 193 rooms across three floors with exterior corridors [this right here would mean that they couldn't be a Holiday Inn after 2007 without a major re-do as the new rules required interior corridors], free parking [yes, this was listed as a feature despite being nowhere near any areas of town where parking is at a premium], a restaurant with room service, a sports bar (with complementary hors d'oeuvres), a coin laundry, and a meeting room for up to 200. The transition to "Hotel Preet" laid waste to a lot of the nicer features of the Holiday Inn, with the pool closing after 2009.


WEST LITTLE YORK ROAD

Like Pinemont further down, this road goes over 290 and only interfaces with the frontage roads via partial cloverleaf, without dedicated exit/entrance ramps.

Brookhollow Village / 14900-92 Northwest Freeway
This strip mall, Brookhollow Village, seemed mostly inactive during most of the late 2000s and early 2010s thanks to the fact the largest tenant (14900) was vacant. Originally home to a Safeway, the grocery store became AppleTree in 1989 when the Houston division of Safeway was spun off, and then Kroger after AppleTree went bankrupt and sold off most of its stores in 1994. Kroger closed around 2005, and according to HAIF it spent some time as some fly-by-night furniture stores (one search turned up "Furniture Giant"). In spring 2012, after a period of vacancy, it reopened as K1 Speed Indoor Track Racing. The strip mall also has Subway as a dining option (until relatively recently Fajita Willie's as well, now replaced by La Fogata Tex Mex Grill), as well as a few other shops, including a Jack's Carpet at 14990 which I swear did not replace the one that was torn down. What originally tipped me off to the presence of an old Safeway (and by extension, AppleTree) was its distinctive hexagon sign. The space next to the Safeway/AppleTree/Kroger/indoor go-kart track was an Eckerd back in the 1980s and 1990s, common to old Safeway stores in the Houston area. It's now an events center.

Hilton Garden Inn / 14919 Northwest Freeway
Built in 2012, the Hilton Garden Inn (Hilton Garden Inn Houston NW America Plaza) seems to do fine while Hotel Preet across the street continues to suffer.

14380 Northwest Freeway
Jones Carpet One Floor & Home was here from around 1985 (been in business since 1947) to 2015 when it moved out, ending up merging with Boatman Carpet One. When it became Jones Carpet One (Carpet One being some sort of flooring franchise) is unknown.

GESSNER ROAD to FAIRBANKS NORTH HOUSTON ROAD

At the southeast corner of the intersection is Courtyard by Marriott (which has a Gessner address). You can see information about it, and more, at the Gessner page, which connects to the Katy Freeway page (and ultimately, Westheimer).

Allegiance Bank / 14770 Northwest Freeway
Built in 2008 as Post Oak Bank, this bank assumed its current brand in November 2018 and officially changed over a few months later.

Sherwin-Williams Paint / 14640 Northwest Freeway
This Sherwin-Williams Paint Store opened in December 2014...brand new compared to other buildings in this stretch.

Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q / 14620 Northwest Freeway
This Rudy's restaurant (built in 2008) is fully featured with a gas station in front of the restaurant, part of the chain's gimmick.

AMF Windfern Lanes / 14441 Northwest Freeway
This bowling alley opened as Fair Lanes Windfern operated by Fair Lanes (a national chain of bowling alleys) in April 1979 as a 32 lane bowling alley. In July 1980, the bowling alley was robbed after hours and the three employees were shot in the head, execution-style. The lone survivor had to call his mother because there was no 911 system in place in Houston at the time. In the mid-1990s it became part of the AMF chain when Fair Lanes was acquired, and also received a repaint in the 2010s.

Houston First Church of God / 14400 Northwest Freeway
This church has been around at least as long as the bowling alley has.

Studio 6 / 14255 Northwest Freeway
Officially Studio 6 Houston, TX - Northwest Hwy 290, this opened in February 1994 as Homestead Village, a chain of extended-stay efficiency apartment hotels. In January 2001, it and others were sold to Accor, which converted them to Studio 6, which it still is today. It's worth noting that when they were converted, the Studio 6 logo was much more colorful and interesting than it is today. You can see the hotel sign as it looked in 2005 from AARoads here.

FAIRBANKS PLAZA

Strip mall built in 1981 (some sources say 1984 for some reason), currently anchored by Jumping World. You can see a PDF of the center here (archived from this site) Starting from the northwest corner, we have the following notable tenants...

Exxon / 14101 Northwest Freeway
The Star Stop Exxon rebuilt around 2018. The rebuild featured a larger convenience store and an entrance to the back alley behind Fairbanks Plaza. The Star Stop name was gained between 2011 and 2014 (previously branded as "Tiger Mart").

FAIRBANKS NORTH HOUSTON ROAD to HOLLISTER STREET

The main commercial drag of 290 starts around this point.

McDonald's / 14099 Northwest Freeway

The McDonald's was built in 2007, just before the "yellow eyebrow" era began. These two pictures (at the top and here) were taken in March 2015 (by me) but even in 2018 the store was renovated exterior-wise to the modern prototype. The picture below is when the sign was on the ground, but still about 7-9 feet. The sign construction was presumably when the Golden Arches were moved for highway construction.

The Home Depot / 14085 Northwest Freeway
The Home Depot opened in January 2000. This was built at the same time as the strip center out front, which includes Kolache Factory.

InTown Suites Extended Stay / 14041 Northwest Freeway
InTown Suites Extended Stay was built in 1998. It only has one entrance/out point onto the frontage road, there's no connection to the (former) Cavender's to the east or the Home Depot to the west.

14045 Northwest Freeway
The original location of one of my favorite signs along the highway, as there was a little neon cowboy on top of the Cavender's Boot City freeway side sign. However, a good night shot of the sign proved too elusive. I mean, this was the best I have (July 2014), but come on--that's supposed to be a vibrant red in real life, not orange! Part of the fault is that it's a screenshot of a video, but even my attempts at still photos with my iPhone have turned red neons orange. See my Torchy's Tacos article College Station/Bryan site for another example, or the "gas prices" photo above. Sadly, in December 2015, the sign was gone and the post was being dismantled. I believed that although there was a chance, it was just removed to be reassembled away from the freeway, it was highly unlikely. I took solace in the fact that there was at least a similar sign appears to be alive and well on the Gulf Freeway, hopefully safe from highway expansions for a while, plus a newer store in Victoria, Texas (which might have been the fate of the Houston sign). In terms of this building, in 1980 it opened as Don's Western Wear but changed hands to Cavender's Boot City in 1990.

Cavender's Boot City / 14031 Northwest Freeway
In 2016, a new Cavender's Boot City location was built on the other side of Flintlock Road, with the new store being a 20,000 square foot store and being much larger and more modern. I had guessed that based on the architecture this was to be the case even before the name was put up, but the big surprise came around November 2016 when the Cavender's Boot City neon sign reappeared! I was elated, but it still doesn't seem to be 100% functional at night, nor does it seem to have the same color variety the old one did. I swear the gloves in this version aren't yellow as others are.

Palace Inn / 14029 Northwest Freeway
Connected to the parking lot of Cavender's Boot City is Palace Inn, a branch of Houston's notorious local hotel chain. Screengrab from my 2014 video here. Just west of here was another building, 14045 Northwest Freeway. This had Just Brakes in the back and Carpet Mills of America in front. Later, Carpet Mills closed and was replaced by a mattress liquidator, and in 2015 both businesses closed. In 2016, the building was torn down. See the 2014 video screengrab here.

Public Storage / 14050 Northwest Freeway
This self-storage unit is of the traditional "rows of doors" type and not the multi-story, climate-controlled units.

13939 Northwest Freeway
Headquarters for Pappas Restaurants Inc., which owns several restaurants that are located on the freeway (and beyond).

NORTHWEST MARKETPLACE

This strip center was constructed in 2002 but lacks a true "anchor" store. You can see a PDF of the center here (archived from this link).

Walmart / 13484 Northwest Freeway
This Walmart opened as an ordinary Wal-Mart in 1995. Later on, a Hobby Lobby was built next to it at 13470 Northwest Freeway, and eventually was demolished for an expansion to the store (becoming a Wal-Mart Supercenter before new branding changed the name again after 2014). The store has a McDonald's inside, as well (despite another McDonald's being in the parking lot).

13480 Northwest Freeway
This former Taco Cabana got the woefully bland pink sign that Taco Cabana has been replacing its signs with (replacing the neon/black versions) but it was still marked for closure anyway in January 2020. As of 2021, the space will get demolished for a new Raising Cane's restaurant.

Mambo Seafood / 13485 Northwest Freeway
Originally a Shoney's, this is now Mambo Seafood since around 2004 after being a Chinese restaurant for several years. (See more at The Houston Files)

Granite Tower at 290 / 13430 Northwest Freeway
Office tower named after its current ownership (not building type), this glassy, 12-story office tower in a semi-circle shape was built in 1981.

13451 Northwest Freeway
Even before Luby's tried to liquidate its restaurant business but the real sign of things to come was when they closed down the restaurant that was closest to their headquarters (half a mile down) around summer 2018. Take heart, the 290 corridor will still have one of the state's best concentrations of existing Luby's restaurants with three still operating on the freeway.

13388 Northwest Freeway
This IHOP (International House of Pancakes) opened around 1994, but in 2018 it moved to 12340 Northwest Freeway.

HOLLISTER STREET to WEST 43rd STREET

It should be noted while the area around Tidwell and Hollister is a large commercial corridor developed largely in the 1990s, today it's somewhat run-down--there's usually multiple panhandlers at the intersection of Tidwell and Hollister off the freeway. Hollister shares the exit with Tidwell, but goes north-south. Hollister would extend to FM 1960, but only disconnected segments exist past West Little York.

NORTHWEST CROSSING

Center built in the early 1990s anchored by Target. You can see a PDF of the center here (archived from here).

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen / 13080 Northwest Freeway
The second location of Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen was built here. As the Westheimer Road page states, the chain has 40 locations now, but unlike the Westheimer location, Pappas built anew rather than a twenty-year-old building that had already seen a revolving door of restaurants and concepts.

Pappasito's Cantina / 13070 Northwest Freeway
This restaurant was built next to Pappadeaux and opened in 1991.

Chili's Grill & Bar / 13050 Northwest Freeway
This was a vacant lot for years but finally developed and opened as a Chili's in 2007.

13013 Northwest Freeway
This office tower was built in the early 1980s with its only tenant, Harris County Appraisal District. Their website has been invaluable in the building of this site. A view from the other side (September 2018) can be seen here.

Fuddruckers / 13010 Northwest Freeway
This chain restaurant is next to Chili's and connects to the movie theater parking lot. It opened in 1999.

Logan's Roadhouse / 12950 Northwest Freeway
Chain restaurant built in 1999.

Cinemark Tinseltown 290 and XD / 12930 Northwest Freeway
This 16-screen movie theater first opened in November 1996, though has been repainted at least once. Movies on its second day in business (11/16/96) were Ransom, Space Jam, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Romeo & Juliet (the 1996 version), The Long Kiss Goodnight, Larger Than Life, The First Wives Club, Sleepers, and The Ghost and the Darkness

Transtar Federal Credit Union / 12930 Northwest Freeway

The picture above is from 2018 (by author). Logan's Roadhouse can be seen in the background.

Pappas Bar-B-Q / 12917 Northwest Freeway
Luther's Bar-B-Q opened a location here in November 2000. In 2005, the restaurant chain was acquired by Pappas Restaurants and by 2007 was converted to Pappas Bar-B-Q.

12914 Northwest Freeway
This restaurant was built in 1998 as a Marie Callender's restaurant. After it closed, Hooters opened in 2003 and completed an inside and out renovation in 2014. These 2018 pictures reflect the 2014 appearance [signage, restaurant exterior]. In March 2020, the restaurant "temporarily" closed but eventually it was made permanent, and by February 2021, a hard freeze killed the palm trees on the site. As of this writing, it will become a location of The Juicy Crab but it's not open yet.

BrickHouse Tavern + Tap / 12910 Northwest Freeway
This was built as a Joe's Crab Shack in 1997. In 2008 the restaurant closed and was converted into a new concept by then-parent company Ignite Restaurant Group, BrickHouse Tavern + Tap. (See more at The Houston Files)

Hampton Inn / 12909 Northwest Freeway
Here since 1998. Despite the official branding these days as "Hampton by Hilton", the hotel kept its older and far less awkward moniker when it completed an inside-and-out renovation in 2018. The original hotel can be seen here from across the freeway. A better picture could probably be found elsewhere.

Denny's / 12862 Northwest Freeway
While it's a little hard to see based on my only photo from 2015, this Denny's still has its older logo above the doorway.

Twin Peaks / 12830 Northwest Freeway
A second generation restaurant like others in the stretch (see Tidwell/Hollister), Twin Peaks originally opened as a T.G.I. Friday's back in 2000 but around 2011 it closed and was renovated into its current tenant (likely 2012).

Grand Tuscany Hotel / 12801 Northwest Freeway
Across from Denny's and Twin Peaks is a large hotel. Built as a ten-story 300-room Ramada Inn in 1980 (complete with a full, multi-room suite on top of the hotel) and briefly going under the "Ramada Plaza" (Ramada's top-tier hotel brand, since retired) name from 1995 to Sept. 1999, this hotel has been Crowne Plaza for years. The hotel stayed as Crowne Plaza until 2018 when a renovation began. The renovation changed the upper level as well, as before the renovation you could even see chandeliers in the upper level at night sometimes. The renovation, which continued into 2019, changed the hotel into the Grand Tuscany Hotel, and removed (or enclosed, still researching) some exterior-facing hotel rooms on the southwest side.

Greater TEXAS Credit Union / 5305 Bingle Road
This is near Pinemont Drive (which goes over 290 and only interfaces with the frontage roads via partial cloverleaf), but has no access to it. If I recall from the plaque outside, this bank was dedicated in 2009. It is a full-service bank, but interestingly, the tellers in the bank aren't visible to customers, all transactions, even inside, are handled with video communication and pneumatic tubes.

12714 Northwest Freeway
Carl's Jr. opened here in 2013, one of the first Carl's Jr. stores to be built in the area. Sometime around 2018 it shuttered, with the signage painted black. The space remains vacant as of this writing (November 2021).

Across the freeway is the former site of Gold Cup at 12747 Northwest Freeway. This strip club, originally the home of Gallagher's Restaurant & Pub until around the late 1980s, renovated and expanded the space in the early 1990s, converting the restaurant into a sports bar and strip club. In the mid-2010s it closed (as early as spring 2013, that's when their Facebook page stopped updating) due to the freeway widening and quickly covered with graffiti (even moreso than West Houston Archives' pictures) before TxDOT took it down in 2016. All that remains today is a gated-off parking lot surrounded by trash and a few of the palm trees (now dead, presumably, due to a freeze) that Gold Cup planted to provide for its landscaping.

5101 Bingle Road
Originally built as a Champ's and later serving as Bravos Mexican Restaurant, the restaurant closed in spring 2014 with the building and its cool Wendy's-like solarium window being taken down in August of that year. A year later, a multi-tenant was built there featuring Jimmy John's, MetroPCS, and a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store.

12503 Northwest Freeway
Like the now-defunct Chevron at Senate, the Exxon here, originally built in 2000 as a flagship "On the Run" store before Exxon divested them in the mid-2010s to Star Stop (#55), this has been boarded up since around 2015 with the gas canopy gone and the vandalized convenience store (and car wash) still intact.

STARS Auto Repair / 12490 Northwest Fwy.
This auto repair shop has been in business since 2007, though the building has been around since the early 1970s (originally serving as a muffler shop).

Wendy's / 12486 Northwest Freeway
This Wendy's has been here since 1985 (the 1990 phone book says this address is 12480 but HCAD and Wendy's corporate site disagree), though it lost the "solarium" around 2011-2012.

Natran Green Pest Control / 12460 Northwest Freeway
The green sign with a smiling flower for Natran (which you can see in this view of the frontage road, facing north in Feb. 2018) replaced the rather plain sign for the Red Onion's corporate offices, which can be seen here, from 2015.

Northwest Shell Auto Care / 12445 Northwest Freeway
This automotive repair shop is listed as a Shell despite losing the Shell branding and the gas pumps in 2014.

Lee's Golden Dragon Lion and Dragon Dance Association / 12441 Northwest Freeway
This was most recently Northwest Dental Center (now closed since around the late 2010s, dentists moved out around the time all the front parking was removed) is an enigma. The space looks a bit like a steakhouse but I've never found information on the original tenants. It was insurance offices in the mid-1980s and later served as the home of the Lee's Golden Dragons dance troupe for a while (which it is now again).

El Tiempo Cantina / 12440 Northwest Freeway
Located next to the former office of the Red Onion chain described above, the description for the late Cafe Red Onion from Google mentions "Hefty portions of imaginative South American fare are dished at this family-friendly cantina" but a 2008 review from Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide paints a far different picture, with chicken constituting most of the menu, a high plate-split cost, and far too many mediocre items. The multiple-location restaurant is no more, and the space was announced to become a location of El Tiempo Cantina not long after its closure in 2015, but like Gulf Freeway, the restaurant's construction stopped and restarted, eventually opening in December 2018.

IHOP / 12340 Northwest Freeway
Relocated from 13388 Northwest Freeway, this new IHOP restaurant opened in 2018. It's listed here before OYO Townhouse (despite addresses) because OYO is further down the road from it.

OYO Townhouse / 12439 Northwest Freeway
Opened 2001 as an ordinary Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites (nice-looking as far as Holiday Inn Express hotels went) and sold in 2013 (assuming the Quality Inn & Suites name that year, as it was going to lose the HI name), the hotel went through some unfortunate changes a few years after that when highway construction forced the demolition of the swimming pool (located in front of the building), the sign (forcing a replacement much closer to the building) and a covered drive-up. As an aside, my 2003 hotel guide says that this hotel contained 61 rooms spread out on three floors. The "Now Open" banner remained on the Quality Inn until it was sold again, rebranding as OYO Townhouse (OYO Townhouse Houston Brookhollow). As of late 2019, renovations are ongoing.

Lindsey's Office Furniture / 12230 Northwest Freeway
Built around 2009-2010 and located in front of the hotels and formerly next to the Pinemont ramp. The second floor of the building appears to have never been occupied.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites / 4900 Federal Plaza Drive
First of two hotels on Federal Plaza Drive, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Northwest-Brookhollow began construction before Pinemont Park & Ride closed (and around the time the old HI Express on the freeway would lose the name). Pinemont Park & Ride, located behind it and located on 6301 Pinemont Drive, opened March 27, 1989, and was a park-and-ride lot with 1,000 parking spaces and both served as a bus terminal and an access point for Northwest Freeway's HOV lane, serving commuters for over two decades before closing on January 24, 2014, with the ramp being disassembled that spring. Since then, nothing has come of the space (low-income housing met with heavy resistance).

One wonders if it was always the plan to build it following the ramp's closure or if they were okay with the ramp being just thirty feet away from the pool area.

Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott / 4850 Federal Plaza Drive
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Houston Brookhollow was completed in 2019, well after the ramp was dismantled. Located on Federal Plaza Drive, it is directly across the street from Lindsey's Office Furniture.

Vintage Apartments / 6500 West 43rd Street
Built as the attractive Bridgegate Apartments in 1973 (complete with your choice of green or gold shag carpeting!), this apartment complex (it has been known as Vintage Apartments since the late 1990s) has seen better days. Several buildings were torn down in late 2015 for freeway construction.

Federal Bureau of Investigation / 1 Justice Park Drive
After over years of construction (groundbreaking in 2004 or 2005), this branch of the FBI opened in 2009, with walls said to be a foot thick. The architecture is strange, it's bright green and has white "+" and "#" signs built into the walls. Your tax dollars at work! (It's almost directly across from the Vintage Apartments above, but set a block or two away from the freeway).

Americas Best Value Inn & Suites / 12170 Northwest Fwy.
This was originally Park Inn & Suites when it opened in 1996 but today is Americas Best Value Inn (officially Americas Best Value Inn & Suites Houston Brookhollow NW).

Northwest Freeway Plaza / 12101-12151 Northwest Freeway
Northwest Freeway Plaza (I don't believe this had a name before 2015), before its partial demolition in 2015, I had never seen so many sketchy tenants packed that close together. The pre-demolition tenants are as follows: 12151 - Cricket [some Internet records say "Best Wireless"], 12141 - Passion Spa [sign simply said PASSION, red letters on white backlit sign, Internet records say that this was an erotic massage parlor...and probably, by extension, a front for prostitution], 12131 - 3 Amigos Bonding, 12121 - Boost Mobile [Internet records also bring up "Daystar Inspections" and "Alliance Communications"], 12111 - Progressive Insurance [or says Google Street View, searching this address turns up "Jordan Insurance"], 12101 - Pronto Money [facade says "1% Checks Cashed"].

It still has five spaces today...the tenants as of January 2020 include Pronto Money (12101), Progressive insurance (part of Jordan Insurance Agency, 12111), I-Vape Lounge (12121), Cricket (12131), a vacant space, and Boost Mobile (12151)...but the demolition had the end spaces reconfigure to be a little smaller.

As of April 2021, I-Vape Lounge is now Vape City.

Formerly, in front of this shopping center (back when the whole corner had a lot more land as a whole) was a small Hartz Chicken Buffet (12191 Northwest Freeway, there since 1978). In 2015, this was closed and torn down.

WEST 43RD STREET to WEST 34TH STREET

West 43rd goes all the way to West Crosstimbers (perhaps we will make a full link to that page someday).

NORTHWEST FREEWAY CENTER

At the southwest corner of this intersection is the Northwest Freeway Center, occupying a block of addresses at the southwest corner of West 43rd Street and Northwest Freeway. Historically, the anchors were Venture (later Big Kmart), Service Merchandise, and Toys R Us, but today are Burlington (Coat Factory), Joe V's Smart Shop, and Fallas Discount Store. Instead, pictures and more details on the Houston Files. This even goes so far back to one of the Service Merchandise stores I remember seeing along the freeway, though that's understandably a long time ago. The original signage (nothing special) was torn down in the widening, but nearly all the center's once first-line tenants have fled in relatively short order.

As The Houston Files has been essentially mothballed, there could possibly a be a return to this page in the future.

McDonald's / 12020 Northwest Freeway
One of the first "old" mansard-roof McDonald's restaurants to be torn down in Houston and rebuilt in 2008 with the "yellow eyebrow", the original version of this looks like it had the drive-through actually retrofitted in later and had some sort of playground between the store and the northbound frontage road.

Creekwood Apartments / 11911 Northwest Freeway
Like Bridgegate/Vintage described above, this older apartment complex was built in the early 1970s (1972, and like Bridgegate/Vintage, had shag carpets as a feature) and had some of its units torn down during construction of the freeway.

Exxon / 11525 Northwest Freeway
A new Exxon/Star Stop was built here in 2020. In previous versions of this page, however, this was the address of the "old dead Chevron", as it had a distinctive Chevron-shaped sign, though the "for sale" sign didn't appear until around late 2008. This one on this side of the highway closed around 2005 or 2006. If you go to the page on HoustonFreeways.com regarding the 290 clearances page and scroll down toward the bottom of the page where it tells of the other Chevron that bit the dust, in the background you can see a white-looking sign with black text, that's this one. The Chevron also had an automatic car wash facility, which was razed around the same time. Less than six months before demolition, the black and white text was replaced with a colorized version. In this picture by me from May 2015, you can see the old dead Chevron from Antoine. I believe I read somewhere that this used to be a Diamond Shamrock, before Chevron.

Note that the area between 43rd and Antoine is actually primarily residential.

On the highway itself, this is about where the new split for Interstate 10 is, opened sometime around 2015. Originally, US-290 ended at I-610 with a shuffle to get into I-10, but the direct ramps here changed that. (To see Katy Freeway, click here.)

Chevron / 11404 Northwest Freeway
The Chevron described above had a "twin" with a similarly large tall sign and began life as a Gulf station back in the mid-1970s and became Chevron after new ownership functionally retired the name in favor of their own (at least that's the way that seems to have occurred. In 2013 the station closed down for redevelopment and was demolished the next year. In 2017, reusing the lot of Maximum Furniture next door and the house behind it, the station was rebuilt, with "Jack's Grocery" (a Chevron) opening by 2018. The newly built Chevron did not have a large sign like its predecessor.

The aforementioned Maximum Furniture was built in 1972 (according to HCAD) at 11330 Northwest Freeway. The first tenant (according to a mid-1970s photograph and backed up with a directory), as "All Needz Rental". By April 1984, it was Freeman's Carpets & Interior, though a July 1984 posting also mentions a bankruptcy auction for Freeman's Piano Warehouse. By 1993, it was Maximum Discount Furniture, which eventually became Maximum Furniture. In 2013 it closed and from what I can tell was reborn on Richmond Avenue as "Houston Upholstery & Design". A house was also behind the building (pre-dating All Needz) on Milwee but it was demolished along with it.

While the Jack's Grocery name appeared more prominently post-rebuild, officially it was always as such even dating back to 1991.

11350 Northwest Freeway
Strip mall built in 2019 that only contains one tenant as of 2020, Boost Mobile (ste. 300). It occupies the space roughly where 11290 Northwest Freeway, a small triangle-shaped (from the sky) building just north of Luby's that had Al's Formal Wear and Al's Tuxedo Outlet back to 1990. It didn't survive ROW clearances and was one of the first freeway-related demolitions. Since I obviously didn't think about taking pictures because it was too late, there's a few Google Street View shots here and here.

11251 Northwest Freeway
On the west side of the freeway is an empty office building, which was the home of HostGator.com LLC for less than a decade (the building was built in 1978). According to SpaceGhost over at Houston Historic Retail, 11251 (which initially contained HGC only on the fourth floor (moving from Florida in 2006), eventually slowly expanded throughout the building, only to leave by summer 2013 (a move to Austin was rumored in 2010, but they only established a presence there, and located elsewhere to Houston eventually). There's now a big "FOR LEASE" sign on the building now...

In this November 2015 picture, the entire building up for grabs. Just north of 11251, however, is a huge detention pond area. As of 1983, this was one of the original four Houston Patio & Garden Centers (11321 Northwest Freeway). In the late 1980s, Wolfe Nursery bought Houston Patio & Garden Centers and eventually rebranded it (after a non-compete agreement expired, the owner would form the modern Houston Garden Centers) and by 1992 this was a location of Wolfe Nursery, though by 1995 the garden center was closed. By early 1997, the property was serving as the Buff's Beach Bar restaurant, then by 2001 had become Manhattan Enterprises, a used car dealership. Sometime in the mid-2000s, the property was re-occupied by Houston Garden Centers itself and tore down a few buildings while bringing the property back to life (most of the back of the property wasn't utilized properly as a non-garden center). Oddly enough, this location did not appear on their website, but it operated from around 2005 to 2011. When the property was finally demolished around of November 2015, the building was being demolished, and you can see remnants of an office inside (a ceiling fan, a desk). [Last gasp of the Houston Garden Center, picture taken May 2015.]

Another demolition is to the immediate southeast of 11251. A Shell station at 11203 Northwest Freeway closed around 2017-2018 for unknown reasons. The construction didn't actually permanently remove access points or demolish structures, but a few years the vacant gas station was torn down anyway.

NORTHBROOK SHOPPING CENTER

This shopping center was built in the early 1970s as an enclosed mini-mall anchored by Romana Cafeteria and Weingarten, with a later expansion (in the mid-1970s) adding Globe before the enclosed portion was removed in the 1980s. You can see the PDF I saved here from January 2020. Today, it is anchored by OfficeMax and El Rancho Supermercado.

WEST 34TH STREET to LOOP 610

NORTHWAY SHOPPING CENTER

Located at the southwest corner of West 34th Street and Loop 610 lies this shopping center, which has seem some pretty big changes over the years. Currently, you can see what the shopping center looks like at this link, which was archived here.

T-Mobile / 11160 Northwest Freeway
This was built in 2017 and approximately replaced 11150 Northwest Freeway. 11150 was formerly Pleasures Mens Club from about 2006 to its demolition in January 2013 (or late December 2012). The strip club was GiGi's Cabaret originally, with the opening in 1986 as per ads. It likely did not replace anything, as in the late 1970s was a gas station.

Jason's Deli / 11120 Northwest Freeway
Casa Olé opened here in September 1996. It was torn down in 2013. My picture from the original versions of this page (unknown source) is here. Pictures from Google can be found here.

Jason's Deli was originally in a strip center between its current location and the T-Mobile building (at 5215 W. 34th Street Ste. A), which I did get in a Google Street View snapshot back when I was first assembling what would be this page some time ago (link to screenshot).

Going back even farther, the entire corner where the disconnected shopping centers are (as well as going back to the Wells Fargo on West 34th Street), except for 11150, was a large apartment complex at 5201 West 34th Street by the name Pinebrook Apartments (stylized as "PineBrook", at least in the early days of the apartment complex) was a 232-unit apartment complex built in 1971 (and started advertising in 1972) as one of the many apartment complexes with clubhouses, swimming pools, and shag carpeting in the early 1970s, though PineBrook was always open to families (and pets). You can see an ad here which includes a sketch of how the apartments actually looked.

The apartment complex suffered issues leading up to its official closure in November 1990 (transients moving into vacant apartments and starting fires), with (apparently) another fire happening after it was closed before the city tore it down in early 1992.

Days Inn / 11002 Northwest Freeway
This hotel was originally a La Quinta (which at some point moved to the hotel behind it) but originally it was a La Quinta Motor Inn (as it was called back then) with a Denny's (but of course) in front of it back in 1977. La Quinta and Denny's remained into the year 2000, but in the early 2000s, Denny's moved to a former Jojo's on the other side of the freeway (see that entry, above), and the restaurant served as a revolving door of other restaurants, first with Baytown Seafood Restaurant by January 2004 and later, Supreme Sandwiches before being evicted in 2012 and demolished in 2013. Here's a Google Maps Street View of Supreme Sandwiches prior to demolition.

As for the hotel, it appears it converted to Baymont Inn in 2006. By 2014 it had converted into a Days Inn.

Captain Benny's / 10896 Northwest Freeway
Captain Benny's opened as Captain's Half Shell Oyster Bar (same ownership, just changed names somewhere down the line, probably early 2000s) in 1987 and shared a parking lot with a Two Pesos. Two Pesos converted to Taco Cabana in the early 1990s and around 2006 closed, replaced with Big Daddy's BBQ. While the building got a cheap repaint, they at least got a new sign. (Static GSV picture here if the above link doesn't work). Around 2009 Big Daddy's closed, however, and when the freeway widening happened, Big Daddy's was torn down for additional parking, as most of Captain Benny's parking lot disappeared with the widening.

Olive Garden / 10830 Northwest Freeway
This Olive Garden opened in 1986 and ended up being almost directly on the frontage road after the clearances took its front parking, but still remained open.

Los Cucos / 10690 Northwest Freeway
As of 1986 this was a Bennigan's and continued to be a Bennigan's into the mid-2000s. After corporate went bust in 2008, it became Los Cucos. Between Sherwood Lane and the power line right of way, there was 10700 Northwest Freeway, a low-rise 1980s-era building wasn't that lucky in terms of freeway demolitions and demolished around December 2012 or January 2013. Here's a picture I saved from Loopnet.

Yucatan Seafood & Bar / 10510 Northwest Freeway
On the other side of what is now Keystone 290 sits what was once Chili's. By 2014, MX Bar & Grill (a restaurant that had moved in after Chili's) had come and gone, with 2017 briefly having Pinch Seafood Restaurant, the current tenant as of this writing is Mariscos Yucatan (also known as Yucatan Seafood & Bar.

10515 Northwest Freeway
The now-defunct Monterey's Little Mexico closed in summer 2013, though recently the building has been dramatically altered. You can see the now defunct Monterey's here: the big sign is still up as of November 2015 (visible from the new ramp, even to this day). Looks like it closed in summer 2013. The location dates back to the 1970s as Monterey House, probably before the area was developed mostly as warehouses.

Interestingly, this was the restaurant pictured when Houston Chronicle discussed the changeover from Monterey House to Monterey's Tex-Mex, and the 1989 incarnation of this restaurant looks far better than the modern restaurant. Why a renovation would make the restaurant look older and overall worse than the later incarnation is beyond me. (Thanks to Mike from Houston Historic Retail for the original scan).

McDonald's / 10450 Northwest Freeway
This McDonald's restaurant has been here since around 1988. In 2001 it rebuilt (featuring a Playplace) but a 2012 remodel scrubbed that (along with the mansard roof), partially to make it better compatible with the reduced parking situation.

Pericos Mexican Cafe / 2701 Mangum Road
This restaurant at the northwest corner of Northwest Freeway and Mangum is here in a spot that was originally Kettle Restaurant and later Taqueria Arandas.

Lone Star Children's Medical Clinic / 10375 Northwest Freeway
Despite the modest restaurant-esque architecture, Lone Star Children's Medical Clinic was "MedStop" back in 1981, which was an "ambulatory care facility" for general medical care and minor emergencies, a bit like a prototype to these private "emergency rooms" popping up everywhere.

Sunset Strip / 2425 Mangum Road
This strip club was once a Steak and Ale restaurant, closed in 2008 with the rest of the chain. The club appears to have opened in 2012. The old blog version of this page featured a listing of some of Mangum's restaurants. While it can still be seen here, it is not only not on this page but also out of date. (Checkers became Smokey Cheeks, the Hooters/Barneys Billiard Saloon was originally a Sizzler, etc.)

10404 Northwest Freeway
"Northwest Shell" mostly functioned as a garage and like the Shell at Katy Freeway and Hunters Creek (still there) and North Shepherd and I-45 (long gone) had the Shell sign on a tri-pointed "tiki torch" design structure. The gas station canopy was in the way of the highway and was torn down in 2012 as the gas station did. The main building remains vacant, and based on Google Street View, appeared to be mostly a garage. The gas station dated back to the mid-1970s (even as a Shell).

2416 Mangum Road
On the south side of the freeway, this was an Exxon (dating back to the mid-1970s) but by 2001 was already closed and leveled, with new construction commencing by 2007 and the old rectangular sign frame still remaining intact. The new 2008 tenants included Nick's Grill (originally named Niko's Grill until local chain Niko Niko's forced a name change) and Insurance Superstore LLC. Unfortunately, it seemed to open at the wrong time, as a new elevated freeway ramp was built right in front of it (as this summer 2013 picture demonstrates). From what I read, the highway construction has caused enormous losses for Nick's (an early 2014 article indicated it wasn't turning a profit, with the owner was investing lots of money to keep it open). Coupled with the mediocre Yelp reviews, I felt it was a goner for sure, but for whatever reason it remains open to this day.

Brookhollow Marketplace / 4500 Dacoma Street
A new strip center featuring Burlington, Floor & Decor, and a few smaller "big box" stores. This used to be ExxonMobil Brookhollow Campus, originally purchased by Humble Oil & Refining Company (a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey) in April 1969. By the time the corporate center was filled out in the mid-1970s, Humble had been absorbed into its parent company, Exxon, and Exxon (later ExxonMobil after their merger with Virginia-based Mobil Corporation) would remain at the site for nearly 40 years.

With the completion of the large ExxonMobil Springwoods Village complex built off near the corner of I-45 and TX-99 in spring 2015, the offices were vacated, and by fall 2016 demolition began on the entire campus. By late 2017, only one building remained, and soon after, three eerie main support structures among a pile of rubble. Pictures and additional information can currently be seen on the US-290 blog linked above in the Mangum section.

Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center / 4400 W. 18th Street
Administrative offices of the Houston ISD school district. Also nearby is two sports facilities owned by the HISD, two stadiums, a baseball field, and the new Delmar Fieldhouse (replacing an older building several years ago).

Shell/Burger King / 4401 W. 18th Street
This combined gas station and was built in late 2007 to replace an older gas station. By the time it was built, Burger King had long since fled the space where Pizza Inn occupies about half a mile to the west.

Northwest Mall / 9500 Hempstead Road
In previous updates, I noted that "Northwest Mall deserves better coverage on this site" as I only had some pictures and thoughts from 2013 here. By the time I first really started paying attention to Northwest Mall (rather unimpressive, as JCPenney had been gone for years, and only Foley's was left) it was deep in decline. The Foley's would become Macy's in 2006 and close down in 2008 following Hurricane Ike damage (probably an easy way out since the 2003 opening of the Galleria's Foley's rendered it irrelevant). The sign still hung on the building for several years afterward even as it was clear that Macy's would not reopen it. The new home of Thompson's Antique Center of Texas (9950 Hempstead Road) at the former JCPenney opened in early 2012 and is still open, though the mall has been shut for a few years now.

While the site is still in need of a new Northwest Mall page, you can at least see this map I saved from back in 2008 when the mall still had Macy's and lots of other tenants.


One other thing that was removed from this version of this page (moving from the blog) was a small strip center at the northwest corner of North Loop and Hempstead Road. This will be back in a future version. At this point, the freeway ends, going to (depending on which ramp), Katy Freeway or Interstate 610.
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