Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mason Road

H-E-B and all of its friends (taken February 2018)

Even in the not-very-distant past, Northwest Freeway here was largely a divided four lane highway with grass fields on one side and a railroad on the other, which is likely what the other segments had at one time. Going even further back (late 1990s or early 2000), I distinctly remember that Northwest Freeway resembled a bit of Wellborn Road (a road in College Station which this railroad line also parallels), but I knew it was not. In those distant days, there were some entrance signs for a subdivision called Fairfield, but it was a ways off, and you really couldn't see it all that well from the road. Parts of this are still intact, of course, like part of the railroad near Mason Road being partially obscured by trees. This "railroad in the woods" always fascinated/haunted me as a kid, and often times in later years I'd wonder where that was. This is the now rather busy Mason Road intersection and one of the first intersections to receive a stoplight (sometime in the 1990s, only one article talks about it but it was there back in 1995), but even that was dangerous as it was the only light on 290 east of Chappell Hill and it was difficult for cars to stop doing 70 mph (or above). Of course, the pre-freeway age has many memories that I've finally identified from years ago, like going back from the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 2004 for a school trip and highly regretting not using the restroom when I had the chance (that was a most uncomfortable two hours...), or even earlier, talking about SimCity with my brother (what a mystical "SimCity 4000" might have). Things changed, of course, and not just terms of growing up. [UPDATE: Sadly, in January 2019, they began removing the trees, first by removing the limbs and branches, then the trees entirely.]

First, around 2005 or 2006, they actually completed the freeway, and soon started construction on a massive outdoor outlet mall which opened in spring 2008. There was also a sign just to the west to it for a new H-E-B store, all the way out there. In the end, the H-E-B opened a bit to the EAST of the outlet mall, and while not a "Plus" store, is a roomy, upscale store that opened in the fall of 2012. Then more and more things opened, including a Kroger Marketplace, many little shops, and another shopping center with Academy and the like. Today it's what Spring Cypress Road was 10 years ago and looks nothing like what it used to. Meanwhile, the freeway dramatically changed again, with construction undergoing on both sides to widen the road (again).

In the old version of the page and previous versions I tried to sort out the addresses by "Eastbound" and "Westbound", which was a bit confusing especially how some did not seem to line up with the actual exits. In this section, it covers the Grand Parkway to Fairfield Creek. All of the addresses are Northwest Freeway/U.S. 290 unless noted.

One more thing I should bring up is that westbound has its own exit for Fairfield Place, when the freeway was constructed around 2007 (originally). Good future planning if everything wasn't torn up within a decade.

29900 - Second Baptist Church - Cypress. This megachurch with its roots closer to the Houston Inner Loop opened October 30, 2016.

29300 - Houston Premium Outlets.

I've noticed even from the highway a number of tenants have come and gone, which I probably won't cover here. The large outdoor mall opened in April 2009. West Houston Archives notes that this was the historic site of Nine Bar Ranch.

29100 - A strip center built between 2008 and 2011. Already there have been a few changes. The tenant that faced the freeway, Verizon Wireless moved out in 2015 and an H&R Block replaced it. The 2015 lineup from north to south is Tomiko Japanese Restaurant (100), Paris Salon (110), a dentist office that only says "Dentist" on the facade and zooming in looks like it says "1st Care Dental" but I can't find anything on a dental office in this strip center so moving on, 3D Nailspa & Lashes (120), "SmallCakes: A Cupcakery" (220), Memorial Taylors (250), All Floors & More (400), Sergio's Mexican Grill (500), State Farm Insurance (600), and aforementioned H&R Block (can't find the suite number but I assume 700).

28550 - H-E-B. The aforementioned H-E-B not only has a fuel center but is a huge H-E-B, with a 100,000 square foot store, which opened in fall 2012. This is not only big for an H-E-B store but big for a supermarket in general. It would precede a bunch of restaurants opening to the northwest and continuing development perpetually occurring.

29060 - Rooms to Go. Opened in July 2016, I recognized this furniture store by its construction before the name ever went up. The Community Impact link mentions a full-line children's showroom area as well as the opening date.

28644 - Chick-fil-a opened August 2014 if memory serves.

28638 - Taco Bell was open by late 2013, if I'm correct.

28630 - Whataburger opened late February 2014.

28624 - McDonald's opened early 2015 (I think).

28616 - Academy Sports + Outdoors opened sometime in late 2015. The first tenant in Fairfield Towne Center, the new strip center going up.

15050 Fairfield Village - The home of the long since forgotten Fairfield Market, which opened here in spring 1992 (or late 1991), one of the first grocery stores in the Fairfield area. Ironically next to one of the newest supermarkets in the area (Kroger Marketplace), this store never did expand to 30,000 square feet or 40,000 square feet as hoped. At some point between 1996 (a confirmed time of when it was open still) and 2003 (when it was confirmed to be closed), a fire in the deli area shut down the store permanently. From 2010 to 2014 it briefly became home to My Father's House, a church, and after the Kroger and others were built it became a "supermarket" again, that is, a business called Pet Supermarket. A few other tenants are here, including Gambino's Pizza.

20355 Cypresswood - Kroger Marketplace opened in December 2015 based on the crowds but had its grand opening in January 2016 (officially).

28060 - Wendy's opened here sometime around late 2016. I don't remember it because I wasn't really driving in the area during that time.

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