Yes, Trader Joe’s wants to open what would likely be its first-ever Houston store at the long-vacant Alabama Theater at 2922 S. Shepherd Dr. — the vacant retail space last used as the home of the Alabama Bookstop. Nancy Sarnoff digs up the proposal for exterior alterations to the designated city landmark sent to the archeological and historical commission by shopping-center owner Weingarten Realty; the changes have already been approved by city staff. Included in the plans: Two big store signs on top of the marquee facing Shepherd . . . and a brand-new turret at the back entrance.
Weingarten, which has been busy recently adding stick-on turrets to its other major Art Deco property in Houston, is proposing a new sign tower in back, which would stand in front of a new row of fake second-story windows. The tower would float over a parapet at the store’s parking-lot entrance, with no obvious support underneath — possibly encouraging any shoppers who notice the situation to scurry in or out of the building a bit more quickly. Facing Shepherd, a new storefront well in front of the current one would cover up the theater’s front vestibule.
The commission hearing, scheduled for Thursday, only covers changes proposed to the building’s exterior. Whether Weingarten and Trader Joe’s plan to preserve any portion of the remaining theater interior is unclear. Last year, Weingarten put out to bid plans to demolish the theater interior, pouring a new concrete slab inside the building and getting rid of the more flexible system of raised-platform wood floors that had been installed during its earlier transformation into a bookstore.
- UPDATE: Trader Joe’s pursues historic building in Montrose [Prime Property]
- Previously on Swamplot: A Trader Joe’s in the Alabama Theater?, Weingarten Realty: We Won’t Demolish the Interior of the Alabama Theater Until a Lease Is Signed, Weingarten’s Alabama Theater Plan: Speculative Demolition for Fun and Profit, Weingarten Plans an Alabama Theater Demolition. Is Staples Moving In?
Images: Weingarten Realty, via HAHC