Architect Tells Texas Historical Commission Alabama Theater Entrance Terrazzo Will Probably Stay Put

According to the Greater Houston Planning Alliance, which heard the news from the Texas Historical Commission — which heard the news from the project’s architect in Dallas — current plans for turning the former Alabama Theater into a Trader Joe’s now call for the terrazzo flooring at the theater’s Shepherd Dr. entrance to be left in place. Building owner Weingarten Realty apparently still has plans to move the front doors 7 or 8 ft. further toward the street, though; according to the GHPA, an accessibility consultant has advised project architect Don Sopranzi that there is no problem with the existing floor’s slope. Weingarten received approval from the city last month to scrape up the swirly patterned flooring outside the entrance and replace it with concrete.


Says the GHPA: “An accessibility consultant has determined that replacing the theater’s non-historic, single swinging doors with a set of double-width, automatic sliding doors will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS) without removing the terrazzo. No variances will be necessary for this work.” The main, fully accessible entrance will be at the store’s back-parking-lot entrance, which isn’t original anyway. Trader Joe’s has not yet signed a lease on the property.

Photos: Chris Adams (exterior) and David Bush/GHPA (terrazzo)

8 Comment

  • I’m sure Weingarten is disappointed.

  • I think this is a good thing for the city of Houston and for Trader Joe’s! For more on Trader Joe’s and the Alabama Theater, check out:

  • Oh the memories when it was a movie theatre: watching “Alien” , especially the scene when the alien creature started soming out of the astronauts stomach: I almost barfed !!! I did spill some of my popcorn. Thank God I had two VERY strong Screwdrivers before seeing the movie. My friend John “Googie” Gomez was laughing his head off. We were intoxicated,thankfully.Saw “Tootsie” and a few other flcks there. Then it became Bookstop. That was a cool place. Now its being reborn as a grocery store. Talk about adaptive reuse !!!

  • @Carol : you know Weingarten is severely disappointed they couldn’t stucco over the whole center. They are so tacky. They’ve sterilized River Oaks Center with the “improvements” : more bland,sterile stucco over the remaining Art Deco features. Weingarten submerged into a vat of stucco and let it dry!!!

  • It’s quite obvious — they hate disabled people.

  • That “swirly patterned floor” may trigger memories for some of you, but to me it’s not worth saving. A shame that the ADA says it has to go because it’s a half-degree out of spec, but I won’t miss it.

  • I have heard indirectly from sources in the know that Trader Joe’s corporate has decided to kill this deal and at least for now and the immediate future aren’t exploring any other sites in Houston.

  • What? Where ever will I buy “organic” chococlate covered cranberries? I mean, you just can’t get those ANYWHERE in Houston.