The Hill Country Galleria is ready to take the wraps off a $16 million renovation project that has dramatically transformed the 1.3 million-square-foot Bee Cave shopping center.
The unveiling will be Saturday, when visitors will be treated to a day filled with festivities beginning at 2 p.m., including live music, a fashion show, samples of food from the Hill Country Galleria’s many bars and restaurants and, to cap things off, a 9 p.m. fireworks show.
The changes – including more shaded areas, upgraded landscaping, new retailers and the addition of a family friendly central plaza – come after owner Invesco surveyed shoppers in 2015 to get their opinions, marketing manager Courtney Bunte said.
“That really gave us the key points to focus on,” she said. “Ever since then, we’ve been working toward meeting their wishes.”
No. 1 on most wish lists was an H&M store, according to Bunte. The Swedish retailer is known for offering fashion-forward clothing at affordable prices.
Armed with data from the survey, the Hill Country Galleria was able to lure H&M, which opened near Dillard’s in August. It’s the second H&M in Austin; the first opened at The Domain in North Austin in 2012.
Other new tenants that have set up shop at the Hill Country Galleria in recent months include Adorn Boutique, Anthony’s Patio, Frost Bank, Frost Gelato, Mana Culture, Premier Family Physicians, Restore Cryotherapy and Ride Indoor Cycling.
Getting to those stores is now much easier, Bunte said, thanks to wider sidewalks. New awnings cover those sidewalks.
“Now, when you walk from store to store, you’re in the shade,” she said. “That’s really important in Texas. Without those, if it’s too hot or if it’s raining, you might go somewhere else.”
The changes continue in the middle of the Hill Country Galleria, where the center’s amphitheater has been revamped.
The lawn has been reconfigured, giving it a gentle slope. There’s also a new, 80-foot-wide elevated pavilion, more outdoor seating and a splash pad with 40 water jets.
“We already put on over 80 events a year,” Bunte said. “The new central plaza will allow us to increase that number. It gives us more room for more guests.”
One final aspect of the renovation project that isn’t quite done yet involves relocating some businesses, creating three distinct districts within the mile-long shopping center.
Fashion retailers will be grouped together on the east end of the center, near Dillard’s and H&M. The center portion will be for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, while service-oriented businesses such as beauty salons will primarily be on the west end, near Whole Foods Market and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“With this new arrangement, you’ll be able to cross-shop,” Bunte said. “You can discover new boutiques and see new shops that you didn’t know were here.”
Shane Street, owner of All Star Burger, said the changes are paying off.
“We’ve already begun receiving positive reception to the enhancements with diners taking advantage of the new shaded seating,” he said. “We’ve had more business on our patio this year than in the past five years combined.
“They’ve done a really commendable job in their efforts to bring in more customers through the new entertainment district. We’ve always been huge proponents of the on-property events they host for their effectiveness in drawing new traffic so we’re confident the central plaza will drive even more business for us.”
There’s still some space left to lease at Hill Country Galleria, and Bunte said the owners hope to make more announcements soon.
“We’re always in leasing talks with new tenants,” she said.