Carbon-izer Presents Northwest Freeway (Inner Belt)

CARBON-IZER PRESENTS THE NORTHWEST FREEWAY (INNER BELT)

This is Version 1.1 of the Northwest Freeway Inner Belt page, a "translation" of many of the pages at the old blog page with some updates applied. It leaves out Fairbanks Plaza (that's for another update), though you can see information about it at the blog page for Fairbanks North Houston Road. Note that in honor of the legacy versions of this page, the addresses will go in reverse order (heading INTO Houston). Version 1.1 changes a few links to integrate with new sections and adds some opening dates.

SAM HOUSTON PARKWAY

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.

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.


GESSNER 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).

Sherwin-Williams Paint / 14640 Northwest Freeway
This Sherwin-Williams Paint Store was built in 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.

Hightimes 24/7 Video / 14510 Northwest Freeway
One of the many smutty stores along this section of 290, but as recently as 2004 it was a Verizon Wireless store (at least part of it) and in the mid-1980s (the building was built in 1980) was home to a store called The Flooring Connection.

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 flashier and interesting than it is today. You can see the hotel sign as it looked in 2005 from AARoads here.

Bombshells Restaurant & Bar / 14191 Northwest Freeway
Red Lobster opened their 13th area restaurant here in 1982, but by November 1995, it was closed (probably closed in part of a purge of underperforming restaurants when General Mills spun off their restaurant group). Larry's Bar-B-Q (Larry's Bar-B-Q Buffet) was open by 2003 but it would close in late 2016, and be replaced with Bombshells Restaurant & Bar, built on the exact same footprint (my guess is that Bombshells initially wanted to renovate but the extensive changes meant a rebuild instead). My picture of this restaurant (as Larry's) is found here.

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").

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 was built in 1999. 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, HCAD says it was built in 1980 and an early 1980s directory says it was "Don's Western Wear". I thought somewhere down the line Cavender's bought them up, but in 1994 Cavender's was here but Don's still had Houston locations.

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.

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

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 (opened in 1998) 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.


WEST TIDWELL ROAD

The area around Tidwell and Hollister is large commercial corridor developed largely in the 1990s. This is admittedly a bit of an abbreviated view that neglects numerous office towers, the Tinseltown theater, and a whole strip center. While it was clear that this area was up and coming in the 1990s, it's somewhat run-down area--there's usually multiple panhandlers at the intersection of Tidwell and Hollister off the freeway.

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)

13451 Northwest Freeway
As of this writing Luby's is trying 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.


HOLLISTER ROAD

Hollister Road shares the exit with Tidwell, but goes north-south. Hollister would extend to FM 1960, but only segments exist past West Little York.

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.

Whataburger / 13270 Northwest Freeway
This Whataburger appears to have been here since the mid-1990s.

Target / 13250 Northwest Freeway
Target (T-858) opened in October 1993 and has been remodeled numerous times, including changing the exterior over the years, with the most recent being in 2019 to lower-case lettering on roadside signage.

Chick-fil-A / 13240 Northwest Freeway
An Outback Steakhouse opened here in 1993 as part of the new shopping center, but some point in the 2000s (2008 or 2009), the restaurant closed and was torn down. Chick-fil-A built a new restaurant and opened in 2010.

Red Lobster / 13232 Northwest Freeway
This restaurant operates in a modified building that was originally the home of sister restaurant China Coast. When Darden shut down the chain in 1995, many restaurants, including this one, were converted to Red Lobster.

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.

Logan's Roadhouse / 12950 Northwest Freeway
Chain restaurant built in the 1990s (see Transtar Federal Credit Union below).

Transtar Federal Credit Union / 12930 Northwest Freeway

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

Hooters / 12914 Northwest Freeway
This Hooters was built in 1998 as a Marie Callender's restaurant (Hooters opened around 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 (as per their website and the location's Facebook page but other sources report the closure as permanent. We will see what happens, but has been about 9 months.

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)

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
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.


PINEMONT DRIVE

Like West Little York, this road goes over 290 and only interfaces with the frontage roads via partial cloverleaf, without dedicated exit/entrance ramps. At the southwest corner of this intersection was the location 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 that Gold Cup planted to provide for its landscaping.

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 (January 2021).

24 Hour Fitness / 12708 Northwest Freeway
Originally home to Handy Dan Hardware at 12700 Northwest Freeway and later serving as an Academy sporting goods store, this fitness center occupies a smaller space of the old building. The Academy later moved to the old Randalls space in the next entry, while the Randalls had moved to a Kmart (also described further on), because the Kmart had moved onto the old Venture. Quite the switchover, eh? Here's a photo from 2015 from the freeway...notice that the building described below is gone with the new building yet to be built.

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 Chevron at Senate, the Exxon here, originally built around the late 1990s as a flagship "On the Run" store before Exxon divested them in the mid-2010s to Star Stop, this has been boarded up since around 2015 with the gas canopy gone and the vandalized convenience store (and car wash) still intact.


BINGLE ROAD

Bingle Road goes north-south and has many names through the area. It becomes North Houston Rosslyn Road at West Little York (the older segment of NHR was cut off years ago), then Bammel North Houston Road, finally ending at TC Jester near FM 1960, and it's all driveable. To the south, it becomes Voss Road south of the Katy Freeway, then Hillcroft before merging in as Fort Bend Parkway's frontage roads.

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.

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).

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. 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 the 1980s). In 2015, this was closed and torn down.


WEST 43RD STREET

At the southwest corner of this intersection is the Northwest Freeway Center (which is not covered below), 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.

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.


ANTOINE DRIVE

Antoine Drive shares its exit/entrance ramps with West 34th Street. It also connects to Katy Freeway. At the southeast corner of Antoine and 290 was one of two Chevron stations with a large, tall sign. The "old dead Chevron", as described in previous versions of this page was at 11525 Northwest Freeway (at least by HCAD addresses) and 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.

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.

Luby's / 11250 Northwest Freeway
Built sometime around 1973 as Romana Cafeteria (Luby's brand when entering Houston), this was later converted to Luby's Cafeteria (and eventually, just Luby's) as time went on. The Luby's corporate office has been shutting down stores left and right, so this may not survive for too much longer. The store is attached to Northbrook Shopping Center but not actually part of it (legally). Also not part of Northbrook was a triangular-shaped (from the sky) building just north of Luby's.

This was 11290 Northwest Freeway, which contained Al's Formal Wear and Al's Tuxedo Outlet. 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.

Northbrook Shopping Center / 5264 West 34th Street
Shopping center anchored by El Rancho Supermercado, which is where the address is used. (The other tenants have separate numbers). You can see the PDF I saved here from January 2020. In terms of 5264 West 34th Street proper, it was originally a Kmart, #9646, and according to HAIFer "purpledevil", the Kmart supposedly never changed its original turquoise-and-red logo, though the building clearly expanded between 1989 and 1995. By the late 1990s it would move out to a former Venture on 43rd Street and by late 2001, it was a new Randalls store, demolishing the building and making it closer to the original footprint. Furthermore, it also appears to have been one of the first Safeway-era locations but it was not really renovated to the Lifestyle format (except for a few design elements). Admittedly, I had never been to it, but it seems cold and lifeless even in the times it was still alive and well. In the spring of 2018 the store was closed, and was replaced (along with other recently-departed Randalls stores) with El Rancho Supermercado within months. It was not a total white-flag by new Randalls owner Albertsons despite what many have thought, and the fact that Albertsons owns 45% of El Rancho Supermercado indicates that it's a bit of a newer strategy.

Elsewhere in the shopping center, the Office Depot at 5330 West 34th Street began life as Weingarten back in 1974. By 1985 (after Weingarten as a chain ceased to exist, though the Weingarten real estate company still held onto the center for decades afterward), Moore's Foods was operating in the spot. This mini-chain had two other locations, one at 301 West 11th Street (later an H-E-B Pantry before it was torn down for a bank) and in Rosenberg (the original store, evolved out of a Minimax). In 1988, the Office Depot opened.


WEST 34TH STREET

West 34th Street shares its exit/entrance ramps with Antoine Drive.

T-Mobile / 11160 Northwest Freeway
This was built in 2017 and approximately replaced 11150 Northwest Freeway. 11150 was formerly Pleasures Mens Club which was demolished 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 the land appeared to be a gas station.

Jason's Deli / 11120 Northwest Freeway
Casa Olé opened here in September 1996. It was torn down in 2013. My picture (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.

Denny's / 11099 Northwest Freeway
Over on the southwest corner of the intersection was a Jojo's Restaurant (here as of 1979) with three other locations elsewhere in Houston (925 N. Wilcrest, 6415 Richmond, and 12010 East Freeway). By September 1997, the chain had six locations (including Galveston) in Houston but sometime soon after it was gone, with Denny's ultimately taking over most of the locations, with them moving to this location between 2002 and 2005.

Northway Shopping Center / 10903-10999 Northwest Fwy.
Shopping center anchored by Academy Sports + Outdoors and Conn's HomePlus. More information will be coming soon. Please see the previous version at the old blog page.

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, by 2008 (even into 2011) it was a Baymont Inn, possibly converted in 2004-2005 when both chains were under the same ownership. By 2014 it had converted into a Days Inn.

Captain Benny's / 10896 Northwest Freeway
Originally Captain Benny's (originally Captain's Half Shell Oyster Bar, which had other Houston locations including a Bryan location) shared a parking lot with Big Daddy's BBQ. When the freeway widening happened, most of Captain Benny's parking lot disappeared and today that parking lot is where Big Daddy's was. Big Daddy's was a former Two Pesos, which later converted to Taco Cabana in the mid-1990s. While the building got a cheap repaint, they at least got a new sign. (Static GSV picture here).

Olive Garden / 10830 Northwest Freeway
This Olive Garden was built in 1987 and ended up being almost directly on the frontage road after the clearances took its front parking, but still remained open.

Bennigan's / 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. (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.


MANGUM ROAD

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 this 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 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.


DACOMA STREET

One of the last roads to cross under Northwest Freeway.

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).


WEST 18TH STREET

By the time 290 crosses this intersection, it's only ramps to the West Loop.

Shell/Burger King / 4401 W. 18th Street
4401 West 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
Northwest Mall deserves better coverage on this site, with only 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.


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. Return to the Main Page | Email
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