The final closing of Highland Mall today is probably a debatable event: sad or good riddance. In either case, I'm sure that anyone who was in Austin back then spent considerable hours and money at this Mall. It was certainly the destination for shopping as it collected the traditional stores that were in Austin at the time into one place. I also recall seeing many first-run movies at the theater in the parking lot.
On some terms, Highland Mall was the most "Dallas" thing in Austin during the 70's. It helped usher in Disco by supplying the glam and flash. On other terms, it was very much an Austin institution... Scarborough's, Joske's, Stelfox; much more local than any mall in Texas.
In the end, it represented the wave of interest flowing out of the downtown area towards the North. Today, that wave has reversed and the results are clear.