Steps away from the historic Alamo is one of San antonio’s most ornate historic buildings, the former Joske’s department store, standing tall along the River Walk. A longtime favorite for well-heeled locals and visitors alike, the multi-level structure, with its famous “Rose Window” facing Commerce Street, has been a staple for luxury fashion since the 1800s. For years, families traveled from all over Texas to see its grand holiday window displays and ladies shopped for Fiesta ballgowns and the latest couture styles.
The former Rivercenter Mall has been transformed to join the newly renovated Joske’s building, together comprising the new Shops at Rivercenter. Its 50 new shopping, dining and entertainment options include a two-story H&M (Texas’ flagship store), a Dave & Buster's, the pre-existing AMC IMAX theater (home of San Antonio’s long-running “Alamo: The Price of Freedom” film) and “Battle for Texas: The Experience,” a permanent exhibit. Restaurants range from the new Yard House and Johnny Rockets to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (slated to open this summer), an ice cream parlor and more.
Across from the nearby Menger Hotel and easily accessible from other downtown areas, the updated, fresh and fully air-conditioned space for visitors to cool off or enjoy some retail therapy before taking a Rio Taxi or leisurely stroll to their next destination. outside on the River Walk level, tour boats turn around near water features while sounds of live music waft over the water and guests take in the scenery from nearby patios.
Two decades after the first Joske’s store opened on Main Plaza in 1867, it moved to the corner of Alamo and Commerce Street, where it still stands today. By 1953, the five-level building had become the largest department store west of the Mississippi until it closed its doors in 1987. eventually, it grew so large that it surrounded the neighboring St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on three sides, earning the nickname “Saint Joske’s.”
“The historical Joske’s building has been an icon in alamo plaza for more than century,” said the Shops’ General Manager Chris Oviatt. Consequently, restoring the original 19th-century architecture of the exterior façade was a priority of the remodel.
For those who remember shopping at Joske’s with their parents when they were young, the renovation brings a sense of nostalgia to its renewed appeal, a sentiment also reflected in new murals honoring the history of alamo plaza and downtown. “We want our visitors to get a feel of what it was like here more than 125 years ago,” Oviatt said. “The photographs and information are a tribute to the preservation of the area, while celebrating the modern era.”