San Antonio retail isn't as well-documented as other cities. Labelscar covered Crossroads of San Antonio (as it was known back then) years ago, but perhaps the most interesting mall in the area is the Shops at Rivercenter, previously known as Rivercenter Mall. (North Star Mall is also interesting and unique in different ways. We'll get to it another time). The thing about Rivercenter Mall (besides having no directories anymore, and the in-mall ones aren't terribly helpful) that's no so great is it isn't a real "mall" anymore. With the departure of Macy's in early 2021, it's increasingly tourist-oriented and less a mall than a collection of tourist-oriented shops. And that's a shame.

Rather than go over the history of the mall from start to finish, I'd like to take a look at the mall from west to east. At the west end of the mall is the former Joske's department store. Joske's had been behind the mall since day one, their parent company at the time, Allied Stores, were partners in what would become the Rivercenter. Originally the store was over 500k square feet and featured four floors plus a retail basement level (most downtown department stores were taller, at least six floors). The century-old store closed for renovations when the mall was built, but during that time, Joske's was purchased and rebranded as Dillard's, and the reopened store was significantly downsized from what it had been previously. I'm not sure how much was actually planned for Joske's to downsize, and what Dillard's plans were. For most of the mall's life, Dillard's only occupied two floors. The third floor was mostly used for a movie theater and comedy club, while the fourth floor (as well as the basement) were vacant. Part of the interior of Joske's was also converted to regular retail use. Based on mention of the entry for the AMC theater in the former Joske's at CinemaTreasures, it would seem that Joske's had intended to open more of their store.

Meanwhile, the IMAX theater dates back to 1989, and while it operates as a movie theater today, originally showed films designed for IMAX theaters (like what museums used to have).

Ultimately, Dillard's would close in August 2008 for redevelopment, and as far as I know, this was the last downtown Dillard's store, contrary to what Ken Allan claims in the St. Louis Centre article (though like St. Louis Centre, the remodeled historic department store does not get to be part of the mall and gets a Dillard's instead)

I remember that when I first visited the Riverecenter in 2011, the so-called "Entertainment Level" was fairly dark and uninviting. The theater was showing the leftovers of the December releases (it was around January 10th or 11th), but I didn't see a movie there.

The redevelopment of the Joske's/Dillard's, completed around December 2015 or January 2016, made use of most of the space. A few of the main entrances to the former Joske's were not reused as mall entrances. There's a vacant space as well as a 24-hour IHOP (which does not, unfortunately, have mall access) and some additional fast-casual restaurants inside. It at least does use the basement that Joske's never used. Most of the biggest attractions of the former Joske's/Dillard's include Legoland Discovery Center and SeaLife, both operated by Merlin Entertainment, H&M, Dave & Buster's, and another attraction called "Battle for Texas: The Experience" (or as the attached map says "The Alamo Experience"). You can see how these are laid out in the site plan at this page. Apparently the Battle for Texas attraction is listed as "Permanently Closed"...not sure when or why. Around the time the Joske's area reopened it assumed its current name.

Obviously I didn't any of the paid attractions (I couldn't even get into Legoland Discovery Center even if I wanted to, they have a "adult must be accompanied by a child" policy). Based on the map of Sea Life they had in the mall corridors (but no actual mall directories...) it appears that it takes up a good portion of the the unused Joske's basement (archived from here).

Also it seems that the upper floors still don't have a permanent tenant, although apparently the plans seem to indicate a boutique hotel of some sort in the future. In the past, lofts were discussed, though the merchandise mix at the Rivercenter doesn't exactly lend itself to local living (and the theaters are probably noisy).

Moving on, the historic Menger Hotel is shown on directories but there is no access to Menger Hotel from the mall. The main mall is a U-shape that wraps around the lagoon of the Riverwalk itself. There's windows on the upper level to look down. The east end of the mall had a 99,000 square foot Macy's, and as I mentioned before, it closed in early 2021. It was a Foley's until 2006 and was actually, when the mall opened back in 1988, a Lord & Taylor, the only such store in San Antonio (Houston had four Lord & Taylor stores at the time--Greenspoint, Memorial City, West Oaks, and Galleria). This was closed in March 1989 and reopened a month later as Foley's, despite St. Louis-based May Co. (the owner of both chains at the time) going on record that Lord & Taylor was doing well at that location.

The 1001-room Marriott Rivercenter is also on the east end. Moving down to the "basement", there is an interior food court but it opens out into the Riverwalk. You could eat your lunch on the waterside, while the mall continues as an outdoor mall for about 90 yards before going under Commerce Street. There's more shops and restaurants a few blocks past the "east branch" that goes into the mall area and turning basin.

One of my favorite sights (though sadly it's been rebranded into just a regular CVS now) back in 2006 was a CVS branded as "CVS/riverwalk" instead of "CVS/pharmacy". It doesn't have a pharmacy and the merchandise mix is heavily geared toward tourists...but it does have two floors!

I've attached a c. 2007 map, during the brief timeframe of having both Macy's and Dillard's, and a few PDFs, with this one being from fall 2021 (archived from here and a ~2018 one that I also found in the making of this page.
Return to Main Page | Back to the Malls Page | Contact Me
Copyright 2023 Carbon-izer.com