Hello all -
According to an article in Saturday's Houston Chronicle, tenants of the River Oaks Shopping Center on West Gray have been informed Weingarten Realty will raze much of the property on the corner of West Gray and Shepherd in order to put in a high-rise residential building and new chain retailers including a Barnes & Noble Bookseller.
I do not oppose redevelopment, but losing the River Oaks Center and the River Oaks Theater is an awfully high price for our community to pay. The River Oaks Center, which spans both the north and south sides of West Gray, and includes Black Eyed Pea, Three Brothers Bakery and the River Oaks Theater, is an Art Deco Houston landmark.
Weingarten plans to demolish the entire center on both sides. They also own the Alabama Center which includes the Bookstop in the Alabama Theater. Bookstop won awards for its unique preservation of the classic theater, and many also fear the new Barnes & Noble means Weingarten will eliminate the old Alabama Theater building on Shepherd and Alabama as well.
Houston's weak preservation ordinances will not protect these structures from demolition. Only public outcry, peer pressure, and politics can do it. You can sign the online petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/riveroaks/
Read the whole Chronicle story here: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/printstory.mpl/metropolitan/4064372
Here's what I said in my petition to Weingarten:
I urge Weingarten to preserve both the River Oaks Theater and the Alabama Theater. Ownership of these Houston landmarks is a privilege and they are entrusted to your care.
Many creative opportunities exist to increase the value of these properties through adaptive reuse rather than demolition and replacement. I urge Weingarten to preserve these structures, not because it is required, but because it is the right thing to do.
Please act now and pass this information along to other concerned Houstonians.
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