By Neal Morton, Staff Writer
San Antonio Express-News
Business Section, Front Page
February 22, 2013
More than 50 years after it opened as San Antonio’s first regional mall, the Wonderland of the Americas appears to have survived its mid-life crisis.
The new owners of the former Crossroads Mall — who acknowledge its past as a struggling, though not obsolete, retail hub — have spent about $12 million rebranding the 742,000-square-foot property as more than a traditional shopping center.
Since Crossroads Mall Partners Ltd. purchased the property at 4522 Fredericksburg Road in 2009, it has renovated the space for existing and new tenants, including medical offices, a nursing school and local entrepreneurs. But the ownership group plans to dedicate another $9 million to $12 million for a “major redevelopment” that could include new office and residential space, said managing partner Sid Weiss.
While he noted it was unusual to turn a regional shopping center into a mixed-use development, Weiss said Wonderland had to distinguish itself from nearby competitors Ingram Park Mall and North Star Mall.
“Tenants that are in North Star or Ingram are not necessarily going to be at Wonderland,” he said. “We’re too close.
“Secondary malls have to do something different or they won’t survive, and in many cities they haven’t,” Weiss added. “We’re really on the leading edge of making this transformation for other malls in similar situations throughout the country.”
After opening as Wonderland Shopping City in 1961 at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Loop 410, the property changed hands multiple times and became Crossroads Mall in 1986. Originally successful, Crossroads fell into a decline that lasted for about two decades, convincing the prior owners to tear the mall down, Weiss said.
However, his partners saw potential in Wonderland despite its image as a ghost town.
“That’s certainly not a new perception, but we certainly haven’t gone out to broadcast it,” Weiss said. “The fact is that’s the busiest intersection in San Antonio.”
Nearly 800,000 vehicles per day travel through the highway intersection of I-10 and Loop 410, according to a 2011 traffic count from the Texas Department of Transportation.