08/06/14 12:30pm

A LONGTIME HOUSTONIAN’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE RECENT ONSLAUGHT OF NEW DEVELOPMENTS AND RESIDENTS Southland Hardware, 1822 Westheimer Rd., Montrose, HoustonShe throws in a few traffic tips for good measure (“never take Kirby to south side of 59 unless you have to, especially on a Friday, opt for Alabama vs. Richmond when driving towards town, and my new favorite: never go to the Galleria unless someone pays you”) but native-born Houstonian Sarah Lipscomb’s advice for herself and others who feel “like the city is closing in on me” includes a restatement of purpose: “to ensure that Houston, its people old and new, be reminded that there is still a culture here that hasn’t changed.” Which leads her to a quick but still traffic-filled driving tour of 5 longstanding Houston institutions that have somehow escaped demolition (so far), for reassurance. Her picks: Nielsen’s Delicatessen on Richmond (“same sandwiches, same service, same spread” for 60 years); Southland Hardware (pictured above) at 1822 Westheimer; Bellaire Broiler Burger on Bellaire Blvd.; the River Oaks Theater on West Gray (“same seats, same smell, same popcorn; don’t eat it though”); and M and M Vacuum on Kirby. [Slips Photo Blog; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Sarah Lipscomb

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.


05/21/08 2:50pm

Rendering of Proposed River Oaks Shopping Center Building at Shepherd and West Gray, Houston

And here it is: Weingarten’s two-story replacement for the northwesternmost River Oaks Shopping Center building at West Gray and Shepherd the company tore down last year.

One goal of this design seems pretty clear: Build a wedge building that helps forge a split between the two tiny groups that might otherwise join together to raise a stink about Weingarten’s larger redevelopment plans for that shopping center, the River Oaks Theater across the street, and the Alabama Theater Shopping Center further south on Shepherd. Preservation-preferring sentimentalists, ready to grumble that this isn’t the curve you expected or the black-and-white Art Deco-ish look you wanted, say hello to your design-elite friends, who are already breathing a sigh of relief that the new building at least isn’t going to be fakey retro. No, it’s not the cleanest Modern thing they’ve seen, but they know it’s the closest they’re likely to get from Heights Venture Architects. Look, Ma! No cornice!

There’s no sense catering to that second group too much though, because Weingarten will need them to be somewhat dispirited so the rest of the strategy can work. No, this wasn’t the wedge we expected, but hey, it’ll do! And it’s sure to draw attention away from the parking garage. Now remind us why we wanted to save that theater again?

After the jump: Close-ups! Site plans! Come back, Jamba Juice — all is forgiven!


04/26/07 12:28pm

River Oaks Theater

Disposing of older buildings used to be so simple. It’s tougher now, but it’s not impossible. You’ll just need to use some new techniques. If the buildings you want to demolish have a high enough profile, you’ll also need a good PR consultant who can help you with strategy.

For a while, it looked like Weingarten Realty might have some trouble tearing down its historic River Oaks Shopping Center, River Oaks Theater, and Alabama Bookstop (which used to be the Alabama Theater—back in the day when people watched movies instead of reading so much). When rumors first began to circulate, there was the big hullabaloo about the River Oaks Theater, and all those online petitions.

But since then, not so much. Weingarten clearly has its winning gameplan mapped out. How did they do it? How do you tear down an immensely popular older building in Houston today, and do it right?

The technique you need involves outrage bait. What’s that? Read on, after the jump!