Last night, a spokesperson under contract to Weingarten Realty writing on behalf of the company reported to Swamplot and its readers that the shopping-center owner “can’t verify the authenticity of the drawings” we reported on yesterday.
The drawings referred to are bid documents that Heights Venture Architects prepared for Weingarten detailing an extensive interior demolition of the 70-year-old Art Deco Alabama Theater at South Shepherd and West Alabama — more commonly known until its closing last September as the Alabama Bookstop bookstore.
Well, gee. Today, “an official” of Weingarten’s architecture firm isn’t having such a hard time with the verification process:
An official at Heights Venture Architects told CultureMap this morning that the company did submit plans detailing a near total interior demolition of the Alabama at the specific request of Weingarten (the company that owns the vacant building).
The official at Heights asked not to be named and said he had no speaking authority, but confirmed that the company had been asked to submit the plans, which Swamplot first published.
What a fun game! Now that this round is over, let’s jump to the next one: Okay, so maybe Weingarten did ask its architects to prepare demolition drawings. Maybe Weingarten is exploring all its options! Just pricing a complete demo for . . . say, comparison.
Here’s the same Weingarten spokesperson feeding this ruse:
. . . it is not unusual for WRI or a prospective tenant to have space concepts and measurements drawn for visual or budget purposes during discussion or negotiation process. The space formerly occupied by BookStop is, of course, available for lease, and, as a matter of common practice, prospective retailers go through the process of planning adjustments or upgrades to suit their unique needs before making an offer or decision.
There’s even a little support for the same notion from Caroline Gallay at CultureMap:
The Heights [Venture] official told CultureMap he does not know how many plans were prepared by the company, or whether they submitted any alternatives to permanently leveling the floor and substantially altering other defining characteristics of the 1939 art deco theater.
But let’s call this one before it goes too far: Swamplot will be more than happy to report on any plans — drawn, doodled, or tattooed — that indicate Weingarten is making any kind of serious effort to find a tenant who would preserve any substantial portion of the building’s interior. (That’s the strategy the same company took back in 1983, when Mike Treadway Architects designed Bookstop to fit into the space, and that’s why most features of the theater are still intact today.) Please send them our way!
But don’t hold your breath waiting for evidence that Weingarten is interested in a similar strategy today. It’s exceedingly unlikely that Weingarten is actively pursuing any strategies for the property other than the demolition plans it had drawn up.
What’s our evidence for saying that?
Next, we’ll have another update with more details on Weingarten’s plans for the building.
- Official confirms Alabama Theater interior demolition plans [CultureMap]
- Weingarten Plans an Alabama Theater Demolition. Is Staples Moving In? [Swamplot]
- Alabama Theater coverage [Swamplot]