Today’s Houston Business Journal features a rather surprising statement from a Weingarten Realty executive about the company’s recent plans for the vacant Alabama Theater. Late last month you’ll remember, Swamplot broke the story that a local construction company was obtaining bids from subcontractors for an extensive interior demolition of the vacant 1939 Art Deco movie theater at 2922 South Shepherd Dr. — using drawings prepared for Weingarten Realty by a local architecture firm.
Since that time, representatives of Weingarten, a publicly traded REIT, have been pushing back on the story to local reporters with a series of carefully worded statements. One such statement, delivered to both Swamplot and its readers the same day the story broke, by a spokesperson under contract to Weingarten, was typical: Weingarten, Swamplot was told, “can’t verify the authenticity of the drawings you posted on your blog one way or the other.”
Aw, shucks. And yet — if this statement in today’s HBJ is to be believed — it appears they certainly could have verified them:
Patti Bender, executive vice president with Weingarten, says the preliminary design that recently hit the streets was part of a site pricing analysis conducted by Staples.
Oh . . . does that mean Weingarten had no part in producing those drawings that showed exactly how the theater was to be gutted and its sloping floor encased in concrete? It was all Staples’s doing? Of course, those of you who have been following the story here on Swamplot realize there are just a couple problems with that statement:
Last week, after sensing local reaction to the idea that the theater might be gutted, Staples announced that it was no longer interested in leasing the former Alabama Bookstop location. But readers rooting for an Alamo Drafthouse to move in instead — the new owners of the Houston franchise for the Austin-based movie-theater-and-restaurant chain reported they had recently restarted discussions with Weingarten about the property — may want to take note of a further statement Bender makes to Jennifer Dawson in today’s HBJ:
“We’re not working on a lease with anyone right now,” says Bender.
Does that mean the Alamo won’t be coming to the theater’s rescue? Not exactly. Here’s an expanded translation, for those of you not familiar with how it’s clear such statements from the company need to be parsed: “We could be thinking about signing a lease, negotiating to sign a lease, ready to sign a lease, have an agreement to sign a lease, have already signed a lease, or [more likely] have no reasonable prospects of leasing the property in the near future. But certainly, we’re not working on a lease with anyone — at the moment.”
- Old Alabama looks for help from Alamo [Houston Business Journal]
- Alabama Theater coverage [Swamplot]