Comment of the Day: There’s More Money in History

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THERE’S MORE MONEY IN HISTORY “First of all, this really doesn’t make much difference, as the original art moderne lines of this center were destroyed several years ago with the addition of gun turrets on the corners of the buildings. What I do find interesting is that Weingarten talks about the alterations as being financially responsible decisions to their shareholders. Yet this is the 3rd oldest intact shopping center in the US, and the only two that predate it, AFAIK, are Highland Park Village in Dallas and Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Both of those have owners that have restored them to essentially their original designs and have enjoyed much increased property values. In the case of Highland Park Village, Henry S Miller (a Dallas developer) bought HP Village in the later ’70’s as it was very run down and dumpy, and had the foresight to restore its original Spanish Colonial design and garner a better tenant mix. Though his company no longer owns it, HP Village commands far higher square foot rents than River Oaks Shopping Center. All this is to say that if Weingarten had invested money in restoring their property 10-15 years ago, they probably would have a more valuable asset today.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on The Other River Oaks Shopping Center Knockdown Hearing Scheduled for This Week] Rendering of proposed alterations to River Oaks Shopping Center, 1997 West Gray St.: Aria Group Architects for Weingarten Realty Investors

8 Comment

  • Looking at Highland Park Village, I see a bunch of high end designer stores. Many of them already have Houston locations a few miles away at Highland Village, River Oaks District or the Galleria. I’m not sure Houston can support that much high end retail real estate. I know I can’t.

  • Come on, cost per sqft will always be directly attributed to sales and traffic. Design and retail mix only help in so far as they get people to stop in.
    And that’s the problem with the art deco design, it was always going to have to change to get the store names bigger, more prominent and far more easily readable. Of course Weingarten could do a better job of keep it more in line with the original art deco, but no landowner would’ve restored and kept it as original.
    The problem comparing it to Highland Park is HP is a far more dense walkable environment and never had to compete with the likes of the Galleria being down the street. The problem is they need to densify or they’re never going to catch up to the likes of River Oaks District, Highland Park and will be left in the dust. I want more shopping space and like Memebag says, it’d be nice to have some more “pedestrian” stores mixed in.

  • Umm, Joel, while HPV may be more walkable within itself, its contextual environment isn’t any more walkable than ROSC’s. Check Google Street View for Preston Road; during a stretch adjacent to HPV, there aren’t even any sidewalks. And the country club blocks the access from population to the east. And regarding your comment about not having the Galleria up the street, NorthPark Center is closer to HPV than The Galleria is to ROSC.

  • joel, you’re partly right. No “Houston landowner” would’ve restored and kept it as original. Buildings, art deco and otherwise have been restored with original facades all over the country and all over the world, profitably. Ever been to Miami? New Orleans? Boston? London? Paris? The only reason that Houston landowners don’t do it is because they don’t have to, and neither do their competition. If they all had to maintain historic facades of listed buildings, it would be a level playing field like it is in those other cities. Houston continues to be too lame, too immature (as a culture), and too short-sighted to consider the the benefits, financial and otherwise of maintaining its significant historic infrastructure.

  • Exactly! You don’t compete with posh new developments by trying to mimic their beige boxes, but by valuing the authentic and unique resource you have.

  • That’s true, looking at HPV on the map ROSC isn’t very comparable to highland park due to location. The comparison looks like it would be far more highland park to highland village due to their surroundings and location.
    In terms of walkability, I was referring to navigating the shopping center itself and not accessibility. Far better to navigate a circle/center than walk a line and cross a street.
    @John, only NO which is wholly unimpressive outside of the tourist districts. All I can say is I couldn’t afford to live in the “right” places in any of those big tourist cities and as such have no interest in mimicking their development regulations for very well placed fear of being priced out.
    All I know is want to see ROSC grow while acknowledging that none of their retail mix is going to be of interest to myself. However, the bigger it gets the better chance I have of at least something being of interest.
    One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is lower the cost of development and let their primary tenants have more input on designs & facades. While I’d like it to maintain more character too, aesthetic appeal will never be my primary concern so as long as it looks good i’d be happy with it maintaining growth.

  • Pfft. Holding up Highland Village as the benchmark for architecture while knock the job that WRI has done is ridiculous. Highland Village is an architectural travesty.

  • Sorry for the comment about Highland Village, I skimmed the article and now realize that they were talking about Highland Park Village vs Highland Village. Nonetheless, I like what WRI has done with River Oaks Shopping Center. I prefer it to Highland Village and the parking metered Village Arcade in the Rice Village.