Modern Luxury - June, 2017
What once was a farmland in the early 20th century has blossomed into Highland Village (shophighlandvillage.com), a posh palm tree-lined home to dozens of the biggest names in fashion, beauty, tech, interior design and dining. As the landmark retail center turns 60, we take a look back at some of the milestones, firsts and exclusives that have made it one of the city’s hottest shopping destinations.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, Elvis Presley topped the charts and Highland Village made its debut with an eponymous pharmacy, Wyatt’s Cafeteria, Henke & Pilot grocery store and a Gulf service station. It was a picture-perfect slice of Americana made to serve nearby subdivisions like Oak Estates and Highland Village, which were also established by founder S.N. Adams, whose Scottish heritage inspired the “Highland” name.
Early in the decade, the center had an eclectic mix of tenants, including seven sari shops, a rowdy country-western club and a Weiner’s department store. When new owners, who included Harvey Houck Jr. and Charles Swain, decided to redevelop, brokers Ed Page and Mike Wheeler convinced them to elevate offerings and create a lifestyle center. First to come in and remarkably change the center’s direction were a flagship Williams-Sonoma and local favorite Tootsies. “This happened just as the lifestyle [concept] was happening,” Page explains, and as the oil bust loomed over the city, this suggestion and insight proved to be a saving grace.
Starbucks opened its very first Houston location in the center, back when the company was still relatively small. In 1996, it took its first step outside of North America, and today there are more than 23,000 stores.
Foodies rejoiced as Smith & Wollensky steakhouse opened a 12,000 square-foot space with more than 300 seats on two levels and a balcony made for alfresco dining in what was formerly Anthony’s restaurant. But that’s not all: Williams-Sonoma more than doubled its size, moving from its 6,000-square-foot location into a 13,000-square-foot space, to make room for interactive shopping experiences like cooking demos.
Highland Village Diamond Anniversary © Modern Luxury 2017