Coming Soon to the River Oaks Shopping Center

Writing in the River Oaks Examiner, Cynthia Lescalleet has a few updates on the River Oaks Shopping Center. Here’s what Swamplot has pieced together:

What else?


Photo of River Oaks Shopping Center: Flickr user Vanita

57 Comment

  • “brand hulking new building”

    That’s the objective reporting I love! NOT.

  • Reporting stopped being objective a long time ago. Ref Fox News.

  • EMME,

    Don’t use the Fox New scapegoat. They’ve only been around since the mid 90s.

    The New York Times have been cornering the market on biased reporting since the late 1800s. Muckraking journalism of the 20s took it a to a new level.

    I personally don’t believe in unbiased reporting. It just doesn’t exist. And when it does occur, that journalist is get blackballed because he/she isn’t on board. The only judge on the validity of a story’s facts are yourself. Reading, watching, and listening to any news source and taking it for the facts is part of the problem.

  • Um, but compared to the rest of the original River Oaks Shopping Center, the new Barnes and Noble location IS hulking. The scale is all wrong. At least it’s better than the garage… slightly.

  • Reporting stopped being objective a long time ago. Ref Fox News.

    It’s funny how differently people see things.

    I remember sitting around the dinner table watching Walter Cronkite on the news over 30 years ago and hearing my dad talk about how biased the network news was. I saw Walter Cronkite on a show a few years back and couldn’t beleive what a doddering old fool he was.

    It took decades but with Fox News we finally have a dissenting opinion.

  • doofus,

    That’s still an opinion. A report is “supposed” to never use opinion.

    Someone may think the new B&N looks great and isn’t out of scale. That would be there opinion too.

  • hulk·ing (hŭl’kĭng)
    adj. Unwieldy or bulky; massive.

    Seems like perfectly reasonable description to me.

  • But you use that word “seems”. That doesn’t sound too definitive to me.

    I’m not trying to be difficult. I just hope people when reading, listening, or watching news stories do it carefully.

    With all this being said, I’m guessing all you a ready for when Weingarten has the money and the market to slowly replace each section of this shopping center with two and three story buildings similar to this rebuild at the front.

    This B&N addition is just the first phase. It won’t be so “hulking when the rest of the place is converted to this style and size.

  • “This B&N addition is just the first phase. It won’t be so “hulking when the rest of the place is converted to this style and size.”

    This news story is set in the present, not the future.

    Weingarten’s plans may change. Weingarten’s may go bankrupt. Nearby neighbors may build skyscrapers that make the currently hulking structure look diminutive. Aliens may attack and turn the neighborhood into a radioactive wasteland, populated by flesh-eating scavengers who burn the books in the abandoned Barnes and Noble to stave off the dread chill of nuclear winter. I suspect in the future, as the situation changes, new, different adjectives will become appropriate to describe that building. But right now, “hulking” is fine.

  • I know the River Oaks Center. I live next to River Oaks Center. The River Oaks Center is part of my daily life. Senator Quayle, that new building hulks.

    [apologies to cousin Lloyd]

  • HAHA,

    Hi Lloyd! Good to see Senator Bentson commenting from the hereafter!

  • Okay, am I the only one who thinks that the design of that new building is all wrong? I can understand how Weingarten wanted to build a 2nd story to increase the number of tenants, but that design with beige stone “bricks” is completely wrong and does not fit in with the rest of the Art Deco buildings.

  • Since Wiengarten didn’t keep the art deco in the new section, you can probably kiss the rest good-bye when the next phases eventually occur.

  • Don’t blame the developer for bad architecture. Blame them for being cheap and hiring bad architects…

  • … and blame the HEAT for Smamplot commenters getting up in each others’ grills so often lately!

  • Thank you, movocelot. You are right. We have been an ungracious bunch lately, and shame on us. Here’s wishing for cool drinks, cool baths and a cool head for everyone.

  • I’ve heard from a couple of people close to the source that “Americas” is the unnamed restaurant preparing to move into the second-story balcony space in the River Oaks Shopping Center, from their old space in the vanishing Pavillion.

  • Though their web-site doesn’t indicate a move from The Pavilion… America’s also has a venue in The Woodlands @ (sleepy) Waterway Square.

  • I love the America’s original. I sat on scaffolds and put up broken tile to make the “Trees”. We called it Jurassic Park chic or Flintstone chic.

    The Pavilion was close to empty when America’s first opened. Maybe 3 or 4 stores a Cafe Express and another restaurant. .

  • I wouldn’t say “hulking”. I’d say “HORRIBLE!”…

  • Heh. “HORRIBLE” definitely veers over into editorial opinion (but I agree!)

  • I’m sure there are people who consider the B&N building to be an architectural gem. I’m also sure there are people who can’t wait for summer so they can watch guys built like Stimpy in a Speedo with giant hairy he-boobies jog in Memorial Park. All I can say is “to each their own and bless their hearts, but I don’t get it”.

  • “I’m also sure there are people who can’t wait for summer so they can watch guys built like Stimpy in a Speedo with giant hairy he-boobies jog in Memorial Park.”

    That reminds me, I need to dig my Speedos and jogging shoes out! See you all on the jogging trail!

  • There goes my shortcut to avoid I-10 and the Loop when heading into Uptown!

    Trust me, those guys are already out. I wish they understand it’s better to wear a shirt and longer shorts to cool your body more effectively.

  • I think it’s the sunburns that really get me. Chest and belly hair do NOT effective sunscreens make! Ouch!

  • Depends on the thickness of the “pelt”, my friend. (Just call me Wolverine.)

  • Just to clarify: Swamplot has never claimed to provide “objective reporting,” or any content at all that excludes the selective attention, opinion, and informed judgment of its writers, sources, photographers, or commenters. We’ve stated this clearly before.
    Where someone would go to find “objective reporting” on any topic is beyond me. It simply does not exist. See, for example, discussions from separate viewpoints here and here, among many, many others.
    Reader comments and tips get a lot of attention on Swamplot, and they usually deserve it. If Swamplot gets something wrong, or if you agree or disagree with (or like or dislike) anything you see on the site, jump in! Keep presenting your ideas and thoughts in ways that keep readers informed and entertained, and we’ll all win.

  • Gus I understand your position, but the quote in your post is from a reporter though. My statements were pertaining to her and not you or your post in general.

    You can say whatever you want (same goes for us wacky commenters too) since you are a blog.

    One of the reason I love blogs is because the posts can be biased. It then allows discussion and links to other blogs. From all the points of view, readers like me can make a better informed opinion.

    Keep up the good work.

  • I love the fact that Swamplot is snarky and opinionated, and its commenters, too.

    I like the fact that commenters (at least the ones more energetic than me) will actually get on the phone or in their cars and effectively do their own reporting!

    There are several local blogs I like a lot–but Swamplot is number 1.

    I now will return to my regularly scheduled snarky contentiousness.

  • And if the building gets mad, turns green and sheds all its facade except for some ragged bits slightly below waist-level, “hulking” will be quite appropriate.

  • @kjb434: You make a good point. And it appears I misunderstood your original comment. I’ve edited the post to make it only slightly more clear that the bullet points are not meant to be a representation of the Examiner reporter’s story. They are instead Swamplot’s own assemblage of items from her reporting, mixed in with other information and description. It probably would have been better if that had been made more clear from the outset, but it’s often not possible or desirable to do that.

    Swamplot is always re-presenting. When we quote a source directly, or write that so-and-so says something, you should trust that we’re merely relaying that (often selective) piece of information. Otherwise, you can presume that all content on this site is rewrapped, tinkered with, and re-gifted. We go out of our way to link to online sources at the bottom of every post, so readers can check out what might have been mangled in the process.

  • @RWB: Swamplot relies heavily on its readers for both reporting and snark. The reporting is usually more valuable to most readers, but all contributions are greatly appreciated. And thanks for your support.

  • The new RO building is hulking and horrible. I’ll never patronize any business that occupies it. I can spend my money in lots of other places. Seriously. (I don’t shop at CVS or Walmart either) Weingarten is a pathetic company with chumps running it, evidenced by the fact that collectively they could not figure out how to financially benefit from the history, design excellence, and public goodwill attached to this property. They instead chose to replace it with a completely insubstantial pile of suburban cliches designed by a firm that frankly should be ashamed of itself. B & N gets demerits for being a part of this mediocrity. Slate and beige, really?

  • Weingarten is a gigantic “Real Estate Investment Trust” (R.E.I.T.). They slice/dice/do deals. The Weingarten REIT really doesn’t care what you think, unless you impeded their plans. On the other hand, they’re very interested in parent companies of retail outfits like Barnes/Noble and will happily accomodate/wheel&deal, etc. to these companies’ hearts’ content. They don’t care about aesthetics unless their clients do, and they certainly don’t care about individuals near their projects….unless their clients tell them to. What they really hate is non-industry publicity for themselves, because they work most cleverly outside
    the view of “interested individuals” who might slow/derail their schemes (sorry, “plans”) to implement changes to their properties. The plans are always to cram MORE in, i.e., parking lots, big boxes, turn lanes, etc.. They don’t care about gridlock, ugliness, light pollution or anything else except their ROI. They exist only to grow, just a bit like….

  • …oh, and a preliminary R.I.P. to the
    wonderful Alabama Theatre/Bookstop/Barnes and Ignoble building. I think I hear your death knell. Thanks, Weingarten REIT.

  • Devans,

    It’s so easy to cut someone down. Isn’t it?

    None of the concerns you voiced are even supposed to be reasonable objectives of an REIT.

    It doesn’t make them evil. They don’t serve the public, they serve their clients. If their clients thought their shopping centers were so horrible, they wouldn’t occupy them. The thing is that the public will still go this shopping center regardless.

    Maybe you should direct your emotions to the public at large that has no problem whatsoever with this kind of development.

    It’s one thing to no like the look of the structure, but it’s another thing to try to cut someone or a company down for just giving the public (en mass) what they want.

  • kjb434:

    Giving the public what it wants, or thinks it wants, is why GM is in bankruptcy. The public wanted Escalades and Hummers. Someone has to be the grown-ups in our society.

  • John,

    You can’t believe that. Those Escalades and Hummers were actually profitable. GM went down because they are now more of a healthcare provider versus being a car company.

    The unions and CAFE standards bankrupted the company. The unions demanded ever more benefits and GM was stupid to oblige and give it to them. The CAFE standards required GM to make extremely unprofitable small cars that few Americans want.

    Right now, GM, Chrysler, and Ford are running shortages of SUVs and Trucks because they cut production a few months back. There are delays for people that want them. There are no inventory issues for small cars because people aren’t buying them.

    There are many other examples you could have used to kill my argument. You picked a bad one.

  • A few comments from a reliable source who actually knows a few things about River Oaks SC and Alabama Theater.

    1. Barnes and Noble owns Bookstop. They are closing it to move to the new location at ROSC.

    2. Weingarten has no intent of demolishing the Alabama Theater. They have been marketing the space for re-use. They intend to restore the facade when a new tenant signs on.

    3. The new portion of ROSC was designed by Altoon + Porter (of the Fashion Show flying saucer mall in Vegas fame) out of Los Angeles. Weingarten did not want the usual EIFS crap that the Houston architects do.

    4. Weingarten’s long term interest in ROSC is to achieve the highest and best use for this property. They want to bring a higher density to the center that they feel is appropriate for its location.

    5. Before the crash last fall they were working on a plan to improve the walk-a-bility of the ROSC through landscaping and art. I believe the project is on hold right now.

    Its interesting how everyone is in favor of density (less driving and more walking) except when it affects something in your backyard. If you don’t like the scale of the building or the lack of protection of historic structures in the city, call the mayor and the planning department. Disclosure: I do not work for Weingarten and don’t always agree with their decisions, but thought that this info would be useful. Flame on everyone!

  • kjb434,

    I guess we can end this dialogue now because anyone who starts off blaming the “evil” unions and CAFE standards for the downfall of GM; and who drives by any GM lot, sees thousands of trucks and SUVs all heavily discounted, but claims that GM can’t keep up with demand; is someone who has overdosed on the GOP/Faux News koolaid. I don’t have the time or energy to go tit for tat with such a person today. I’ve learned that it truly is not worth the effort.

  • John,

    Look at the link below.

    There many other stories I found too.

    Dealers are turning them over quickly and many for sticker price. This isn’t anecdotal evidence.

  • Unions are a big part of the reason of why GM failed, but not the whole reason. There’s really no debating that. UAW workers make an average of $10 more an hour than their Japanese counterparts and receive healthcare and pensions after retirment. Therefore,American companies are saddled with much higher fixed costs then their competitors. GM also has (or had) several brands that competed with each other; Pontiac, Cadillac, Chevy, Saturn, Buick, GMC, etc. Finally, they’re management flat out sucked (it has for the last 20-30 years).

  • I’m just proud to be labeled “snarky.” I work damn hard for that, editing and re-editing my posts for just the right bon mot before pressing the “post comment” button. And we all obviously LOVE Houston, even through all the grousing. Else why would we live in this freakin’ furnace?

  • Never thought I would say it…and it pains me /end snarky

    I agree with devans on this one.

  • Whenever I hear “Weingarten”, it makes me think of Lea Fastow, her hubby, Enron, and all the people who got screwed in that deal.

    She is a Weingarten who got caught. Pure greed, that’s Weingarten is all about.

  • kjb434

    Yes, it is easy to cut down the Weingarten REIT, because it’s deserved. The odd question is why my opinion compels you to defend them? I dislike them because they willfully cause traffic problems, etc. and accept no responsibility. Their bankruptcy would make me VERY HAPPY. If you don’t like that, well, I could not be more indifferent.
    …and I was “directing my comments to the public-at-large”, ding-dong! Kinda clueless there, pal.

    Using your own proclamation: “There are many (other) examples you could use to kill my (meaning your) argument….” Finally, something upon which we can agree! Myriad examples, yes!

    Please continue your impassioned defense of the Weingarten REIT. It’s great that someone will stand up for Goliath.

  • I could care less if Weingarten stays are goes.

    But if you ever hope to have a rational discussion with someone or a group that may have the ability to dramatically affect the street scape and/or block, you don’t start off by insulting or maligning them.

    Taking a offensive stance to any builder or developer just forces them even more not to care about the public’s opinion. They know that whatever they do they’ll be a bunch of idiots who come out protesting and calling them names.

    How would you like to go about your business where everything you do gets you hurling insults directed at you?

    If the community that has objections would act in a mature way and show the ability to work to a compromise, then developers may actually listen. Until that happens, I completely understand why they would fly under the radar until the last moment when construction is close to happening.

    Having been to and watched many Planning Commission Meetings, I’ve seen both ends of communities that object to developers and builders. The communities that are willing to compromise and work with the developer always seem to get the most results. The communities that go in ranting and raving end up not making a good coherent case aren’t taken seriously. The Planning Commission has several members that lean very much to support the local communities concerns, but you have to give them good solid reasoning to support your cause.

  • kjb defends all things corporate and rebuffs most things from the heart.

    And kjb, what makes you think devans wants to have a rational discussion at this moment? Sometimes, you just have to vent.

  • “Taking a offensive stance to any builder or developer just forces them even more not to care about the public’s opinion. They know that whatever they do they’ll be a bunch of idiots who come out protesting and calling them names.”

    They know that already. Maligning them will have no effect one way or the other. They have already decided that their potential profit overrides any argument that can be made.

  • Having the emotion is fine, but transferring the emotion into a valuable logical argument in your favor is the way to win.

  • “If the community that has objections would act in a mature way and show the ability to work to a compromise, then developers may actually listen.”

    Been tried, doesn’t work. I had the lovely experience of dealing with one that wanted to build 4 townhomes on a 5800sf lot. I engaged him in a civilized dialogue up to and until the moment he did not get his way. Then he started making all kinds of threats and name calling. He was going to put a methadone clinic in. He advertised on craigslist to rent the existing structure to pedophiles. All in good fun, he says. Now it’s funny, but at the time, it was most frustrating.

  • HAHA,

    Well, there will always still be a**holes.

  • kjb434

    “taking an offensive stance to any builder or developer just forces them even more not to care about the public’s opinion.”

    KJB- That statement shows me, sir, that you are naive in the extreme.

    I’ve owned WREIT shares and read their prospectus. I dumped it for the same reasons I won’t own tobacco stock. Moral reasons.

    Quote: “forces them even more not to care”
    That’s just a priceless comment, kj; I won’t even touch it.

    Why don’t you go off on another car tangent instead? Brother.

  • Just keep throwing names out. I’m sure it helps your argument.

    I’m not pro or against Weingarten. I don’t own stock or have any ties to them. If you felt they were a bad investment, then you did what you had to do and dropped it.

    If the company is so poorly run, it will eventually fail as it should.

  • kjb – see post #36

    You’re the one defending the uncaring monolith.

    The idea was to help you understand that I’m quite familiar with WREIT, since you seem to think anti-Weingarten folks are naive about the realities of REITs.

    “Just keep throwing names out; I’m sure it helps your argument.” WHAT?

    I’m finished with this odd, nonsensical “debate”.

  • The thing I find most amazing about this particularly long rant… is how no one really acknowledged the only semi-credible comment (MT, comment #39)… The funny thing is, for all of WRI’s problems (frozen credit markets being the biggest), this asset is an easy sell… and once the success of the B&N is scene… the full development will follow suit shortly there after as lenders will be begging to have the development in their construction loan portfolio… Just wait for the Old Theater to get hacked up and converted into an AMC 24.

  • @Valuation Guru: mt’s comment was highlighted as the Comment of the Day on June 25th. You’ll find responses to it there.