The Other River Oaks Shopping Center Knockdown Hearing Scheduled for This Week

Across and a little bit down the street from the site where the company proposes to tear down an already altered section of the River Oaks Shopping Center and erect a 29-story apartment tower with 2 floors of underground parking, Weingarten Realty has more plans to make changes to the landmark art deco center. At the corner of West Gray and McDuffie, the company wants to tear down the 2-story western end of the south half of the 1948 section of the shopping center — which now houses a California Pizza Kitchen and the remains of the Evolve Fitness Studio upstairs (and was previously the site of a Birraporetti’s with Sherlock’s Pub above it) — and reconstruct the section as a 12,730-sq.-ft. Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille with significantly taller first and second stories.

The design, by Chicago’s Aria Group Architects, “will maintain historical features” of the building at 1997 West Gray St., the submitted plans (PDF) explain. But not exactly in the same order. Stick-on stone facing was stuck onto lower portions of this section of the art deco structure in 2007 when it was given a new stucco-batter coating and turned into a CPK; the new design shows a tall curved panel of limestone wrapping the corner, but this time on the higher second floor, suspended above a rebuilt portion of the center’s signature curved soffit.


Because the center was designated a historic landmark by the city back in 2007 (as the company tore down a different portion of it), Weingarten is required to submit its plans to the Houston Archeological and Historic Commission for approval. The hearing — for this project as well as for the demolition planned on the site of the tower across the street at W. Gray and Driscoll — is scheduled for 3 pm this Thursday at the City Hall Annex at 900 Bagby Downtown. If the HAHC does not approve a “certificate of appropriateness” for either project, however, it won’t prevent Weingarten from knocking anything down: Under the rules for landmarks in this category, the company is allowed to proceed with its project after waiting 90 days. (The city has a separate class of landmarks, called “protected” landmarks, which is more restrictive.)

Images: Weingarten Realty (photos); Aria Group Architects (drawings)

Raising Perry’s Steakhouse

17 Comment

  • “The design, by Chicago’s Aria Group Architects, “will maintain historical features””

    What a crock of ____ …… they are, little by little, taking away what made this shopping center attractive. I might as well live in Katy.

  • There’s gotta be a support group or two out there for all the miserable architecture critics somewhere….. If not, there should be and it should be located in Katy, preferably next to the Bass Pro Shop. Or better yet, IN the Bass Pro Shop next to the aquarium…. I hear aquariums are supposed to lower blood pressure. Jeeeeez…..

  • As a native Houstonian, I don’t even know why we bother with the “historic landmark” designation since it is largely toothless. A veto by the HAHC only puts a 90-day pause, which may actually benefit the developer since it gives them more time to pre-lease whatever thing they are building or get all of the construction materials or workers into place.
    Plus, 90 days isn’t enough for crowdfunding to raise any decent amount to “buy out” the developer if they even wanted to try. Who is going to crowdfund $20 million in 90 days? Then, they have to do it all over again for the next bulldozer victim.
    Either make the designation big or go home.

  • Looks about the same to me, but without the slime yellow. it boggles my mind that the entity that owns this building could be prevented from making this slight improvement so it can increase revenue all because some third-parties think this is a “crock of _____”

  • @Htownproud

    The owner can do anything he want to the property with possibly a 90 day delay, but you would know that if you actually READ the article. For what it is worth, my comment was in reference to the architect’s description of maintaining “historical features” … you seem have poor comprehension skills as well as a lack of focus.

  • Perry’s > California Pizza Kitchen

  • CPK… Perry’s. Who cares? Would you rather have an empty space with nothing? It isn’t an Applebee’s or Chili’s for F-sake. Perry’s might not be the upper-echelon of steakhouses but I welcome it, and its architectural changes. Looks better than what CPK had going on. I know my office is already excited for their Friday pork chop lunch special.
    And for a city like Houston, where a wood-framed house on cinder blocks is considered “architecturally relevant”, I welcome all modern development. This city needs to get over the fact there is nothing historically relevant about it outside of downtown.

  • Instead of saving Houston’s cherished and treasured history, Weingarten seems to try and destroy it. River Oaks is a historical place to shop. Leave it as it is.

  • As far as only having 90 days to crowdfund and make something happen, that’s a load of BS, you all saw what they did to the location of B&N years ago. What made you think at that time that the rest of the center was safe? At that time you should have expected exactly what is happening now and you should have been crowdfunding the money from that very date to buy the rest of the strip center and save it. Complaining about how little time there is now is just an excuse for caring enough to complain, but not actually caring enough to make a difference. You get no sympathy from me.
    Here’s a news flash: in 5-10 years they’ll submit plans to remove another piece of this strip center and replace it with something else.

  • 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 Weingarden 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 it’s 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 Weingarden had invested money in restoring their property 10-15 years ago, they probably would have a more valuable asset today.

  • WR — “you seem have poor comprehension skills” – stay classy buddy (and nice command of the English language).

  • I’d rather be accused of a committing a typo than having a mental deficiency.

  • i heard that using more than 3 periods in an ellipsis is a sign of mental deficiency…….

  • Perry’s steaks are 2nd rate. Why bother?

  • And enough of this high end crap. There used to be a top notch Black Eyed Pea in that strip center. Everyone could eat there. Rich and … well, not poor, but lower middle class … side by side, enjoying delicious chicken fried chicken and mixed drinks. Also One’s A Meal. Stuff normal humans without trust funds or mob ties could enjoy.

  • It’s all a ridiculous charade. Make a presentation & either receive permission or wait 90 days. Does anyone think developers aren’t smart enough to build 90 days into their schedules?

  • I will always remember the upstairs as one of the best bars in Houston history: Artuzzi’s.
    In the mid to late 90’s Shepherd Square was the place to see and be seen. However, it shuttered seemingly overnight due to multiple law suits from neighboring property owners. Downtown only had one or two bars and would not become the place for 6 more months. For about a 6 month time frame, Artuzzi’s was the only “place” in town. If you were not in line by 10, you were not getting in unless you paid off the doorman.