River Oaks Shopping Center Demolished

…well just part of it was torn down yesterday to make way for the new section that will be home to a Barnes and Nobles bookstore, a multi-storey parking garage and more.



5 thoughts on “River Oaks Shopping Center Demolished

  1. What a shame it was demolished, but the news gets much worse!

    Weingarten Realty Investors, who own the River Oaks Shopping Center and demolished the southern half of the center last year in order to replace it with a larger new center, have secretly altered the plans shown to the city and to the neighbors in order to build an even larger and taller structure that will tower over River Oaks and Shepherd Drive. They have started construction and are trying to finish as quickly as possible, although the construction has been halted due to a violation of city setback ordinances because of unauthorized changes made to the plans. Weingarten is violating the promises it made to the community to honor the original design!

    In 2007, after loud and protracted public protests, Weingarten specifically promised that the new center “would honor the original curved design, but be two stories tall instead of one.” That was the specific promise given to the neighbors, The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, and The Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission. In early October 2008, however, Weingarten began erecting steel beams to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DESIGN. Without the knowledge of any of the parties they had talked to for their support, Weingarten simply changed the design, submitted it to the City for approval, and started construction. No one outside the City Planning Department had any idea of the changes until the steel beams started going up.

    Compare the photos for yourself!
    Here is what the shopping center looked like before it was demolished:

    Here is the photo of the center Weingarten promised to build:

    And HERE is what they are actually building:
    Take a look at the height of this building, and compare it to what used to be there, and what they promised to build! The building used to be about 17 feet tall. What they promised was about 30 feet tall. What they are building is 50 feet tall! That’s FIFTY FEET TALL! And at the top is a bright rim of light going all the way around the top, just to make sure you can’t miss it towering above you at night. Oh, and there’s a huge backlit letters of the restaurant name on two sides of the building too. What visual pollution!
    But that’s not all! Take a look at the second floor of the building – do you see that outdoor porch hanging out over the sidewalk, towards Shepherd Drive? Not only was that not in the plans, but it violates City setback ordinances! It’s illegal! When the setback violation was reported to the City, they agreed it was illegal and ordered construction to stop, which it has – temporarily. HOWEVER, Weingarten has merely filed for a variance, and set the hearing date for just a few days away, in order to make it difficult for opponents to get the word out or even to find out more about the project.

    We need your help! The Planning Commission needs to know that Houstonians care about about historic preservation, visual pollution, and corporate honesty. Visit our website and click to sign our petition so they will know that you agree that the City should not grant variances to let developers violate the law.

    And please pass on this link so that others can find out – quickly!! The variance hearing is scheduled for December 18, 2008. We will try to have it delayed until January 8, 2009, but the best way to get a delay is to have lots of names on the petition, so please help!

    Visit StopShepherdNoise.org to learn more about this travesty and to sign a petition to stop it. We have very little time and we are working against a company that has traditionally rolled over its opponents.

  2. Pankaj-
    I appreciate your post – but actually, the purpose of the petition is not to meet any legal requirement, but rather to demonstrate to the planning commission that a lot of people care about this issue. We also have a written petition, and many people will be showing up at the hearing itself. They are also apparently getting phone calls, although we are not suggesting that. We understand that the folks that will be making this decision are in fact favorably impressed at the various indications of popular support, and that’s encouraging. So we would still appreciate your “electronic signature” if you would like to do so! Have a great day!

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