03/22/13 10:00am

WEINGARTEN RESPONDS: HEY, IT’S NOT US, IT’S MARFRELESS The make-out den behind the blue door says it’s closing because of the “rising cost of doing business” in the River Oaks Shopping Center, but landlords Weingarten Realty don’t see it that way — or at least that’s what an email sent yesterday to the Houston Chronicles Nancy Sarnoff says: “It was Marfreless’ decision to cease their operations at River Oaks Shopping Center. Weingarten Realty has made several attempts to contact the tenant to continue discussions but we have not been able to get a response. We remain open to discussing a lease extension and agreement.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Flickr user jmcgeough

07/23/12 12:14pm

What’s going on with these newly created tall-suspension-only parking spots outside Marfreless behind the River Oaks Shopping Center — at the corner of Peden and McDuffie? “This story all began with a strip of grass,” explains Brinn Miracle, who documented the strip’s disappearance, its re-landscaping, the replacement of the landscaping with a ramp, the removal of the ramp, and finally, the appearance of the configuration you see here. Sure, It may look like a couple of parking spaces bisected by a row of wheel stops, but don’t let your eyes fool you: As careful study and comparison of her photos looking west (above) and east (below) should make clear, half of each space is now meant to serve as a sidewalk . . .


04/28/11 11:41am

C’mon, we all know what the problem’s been with the old Art Deco River Oaks Shopping Center on West Gray, just east of Shepherd: The place was too black-and-white, the signs were too damn small, and it didn’t have enough turrets. Hey, nothing a little forehead lift and a generous slathering of EIFS can’t fix! Got some can’t-sell brick up there? Time for a little arch-ee-textural adjustment! It’ll look just like stucco — with all those control joints you love, plus they’ll be painting the new glop a nice Pearland-y mustard color. All that and a new wash of beige paint over the rest of the place should make folks driving in from newer suburbs feel more at home when they visit — and may have the added bonus of attracting a few of those nail salons and check-cashing outlets the place has been so sorely missing.


04/21/11 5:42pm

LANDMARK FOR SALE Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban, whose company 2929 Entertainment has owned Landmark Theatres since 2003, is putting the arthouse cinema chain up for sale by auction — along with its sister independent-film distribution company, Magnolia Pictures. Landmark operates 55 cinemas with 245 screens in 21 cities. In Houston, Landmark leases the art deco 1939-vintage River Oaks Theatre at 2009 West Gray — from Weingarten Realty. Offers are expected to come in as early as next week, but Cuban tells Bloomberg News he is only “testing the waters . . . We won’t sell unless the offer is very, very compelling.” [Art Attack] Photo: Flickr user Loren-zo

09/13/10 8:58am

The Ligne Roset showroom in Houston and the design boutique on West 2nd St. in Austin have both ceased operations, according to a recording left on both stores’ answering machines — and a tip from a Swamplot reader. Houston’s Ligne Roset moved from a Rice-Village-area strip center on Kirby to 1992 West Gray in the River Oaks Shopping Center last February. (That move surprised customers who had been looking forward to the completion of grander plans: Owner Bruce Wolfe had previously announced the modern French furniture store would anchor a 12,000-sq.-ft. “Design Source” retail center in West Ave, where he would also operate 4 additional showrooms featuring sleek modern lines.) The recording refers customers with pending orders to Roset USA. The closest Ligne Roset showroom now: Dallas.

Photo: Swamplot Inbox

01/04/10 4:26pm

And now the official announcement of “what everyone already knew” about the new River Oaks Shopping Center: That second-story space with the overextended (and intensely negotiated) porte-cochere facing onto Shepherd is slated to be a third Américas restaurant. Weingarten Realty reports that Michael Cordúa will open a 9,150-sq.-ft. West-Gray-and-Shepherd version in the fall of this year, featuring an elevated bar area and private event spaces. Cordúa will work again with Cheesecake Factory stylist Jordan Mozer to design his 7th local restaurant. Tony and Jeff Vallone backed out of plans to open a restaurant named Il Tavolo in the same location one year ago.

Photo of River Oaks Shopping Center: River Oaks Examiner

06/25/09 3:55pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BOOKSTOP FULL STOP “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!” [mt, commenting on Coming Soon to the River Oaks Shopping Center]

06/24/09 1:52pm

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?


04/01/09 2:43pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WEINGARTEN’S BLACK EYE “Maybe Mr. Alexander could solicit such basic needs tenants for the River Oaks Shopping Center; perhaps a local bakery and a quick-serve restaurant like the Black-Eyed Pea, for example? [Hellsing, commenting on And What About the River Oaks Shopping Center?]

04/01/09 12:37pm

AND WHAT ABOUT THE RIVER OAKS SHOPPING CENTER? His company’s stock down more than 70 percent since last year and the 2009 calendar wiped clean of all new development projects, Weingarten Realty president and CEO Drew Alexander tells analysts and investors the REIT is gonna survive. The key to the survival? An increase in cash on the balance sheet and a continued ‘focus on tenants that sell basic goods and services,’ Alexander commented. Those tenants include grocery stores, dry cleaners, quick-serve restaurants and value chains such as Ross, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.” [Globe St.]

01/28/09 10:51am

IS THAT THREE BROTHERS BAKERY ON THE LINE? A spokesperson for Weingarten Realty reports the company has “a number of good prospects” to lease the second-story space in the semi-curved replacement building that caused all that fuss over at the River Oaks Shopping Center. Earlier this week, Tony Vallone announced he’s backing out of plans to open a new Italian restaurant in the space: “. . . the recent flak between neighbors and developer Weingarten Realty on such points as the building’s setbacks and the use of the patio were not factors in pulling the plug, he said, adding the discourse was full of misinformation. Vallone said, for example, rumors were circulated that the patio would have been used, at times, as a band venue, which would not have been the case. ‘I would never do anything to jeopardize the relationship with the neighborhood,’ Vallone said.” [River Oaks Examiner; previously]

01/19/09 11:50am

Weingarten’s Planning Commission victory earlier this month doesn’t resolve everything for the westernmost of two replacement retail buildings now under construction at the River Oaks Shopping Center. First, reports Mary Ann Acevedo in the Houston Business Journal, that last-minute compromise left a few neighbors grumbling:

. . . some of the neighbors are not pleased that they didn’t have an opportunity to review the final agreement after Weingarten’s most recent changes prior to the Jan. 8 hearing with the Planning Commission.

According to [neighbor Janet] Moore, Weingarten had told the group it would deliver an advance copy for their review.

“They presented us a signed, unmarked copy at the hearing and had no one available authorized to negotiate changes to the agreement,” Moore says. “Some of the neighbors are disappointed with a few of the changes in the agreement.”

On, Jan. 13, Weingarten presented the neighbors with a revised agreement that Moore says does address some of those concerns, although the parties continue to work out the details.

Next, that Vallone restaurant planned for the building’s second floor and balcony — which at one point was referred to in Weingarten’s marketing materials as Il Tavolo (and is labeled Adagio Vino in the renderings) — may not be a done deal yet:


01/09/09 9:59am

There was no showdown over the River Oaks Shopping Center variance request at yesterday’s Planning Commission hearing. In talks prior to the meeting, Weingarten Realty used its mad skillz to assuage the most vocal neighbors with a few minor changes to the patio-topped porte-cochere facing Shepherd Drive — already under construction — that violated the setback:

. . . reduce the size of the balcony seating and enclose the seating area. That will result in a 30-inch encroachment into the area of the 25-foot setback.

Lower the 10-inch signage on the west side of the building facing Shepherd Drive.

Will remove external LED lights on the west side of the building and turn off flashing security box lights inside the parking garage.

Variance . . . granted! The screencapture above shows the revised, enclosed balcony shown at the hearing, which will be a part of Tony and Jeff Vallone’s new Il Tavolo restaurant and wine bar.

Weingarten knows how to keep more than just a noisy upstairs wine-bar quiet, notes abc13’s Miya Shay:


12/10/08 2:48pm

Weingarten had no problem tearing down the first part of the River Oaks Shopping Center last year. But when it decided to replace the historic curved building at the northeast corner of West Gray and Shepherd with the semi-curved, semi-modern confection shown here, did the company go too far?

According to the GHPA, Weingarten is now seeking a variance to allow it to keep changes it made to the approved plans for the building — which have already been built. From a website referred to in a GHPA email:

The restaurant’s balcony facing Shepherd encroaches into the mandatory setback, violating Houston City Setback Requirements. Once the City was notified of the encroachment, construction of the encroaching porch was stopped—temporarily. . . . Weingarten Realty has requested that the Planning Commission grant a variance to permit this encroaching porch. Without objections from concerned citizens like you, the City will likely grant the variance request.

That restaurant is Jeff and Tony Vallone’s planned new Il Tavolo. After the jump, a portion of the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance’s message: