Where Weingarten Plans To Stab That 30-Story Residential Highrise into the River Oaks Shopping Center

River Oaks Shopping Center highrise plan, Houston, 77019

What else might change as Weingarten plants the 30-ish story residential tower it announced yesterday on a spot currently occupied by a few of the River Oaks Shopping Center’s northeastern storefronts? Specifics on the design of the 300-plus-unit project (which the company hinted at in late 2015) are still scant, though construction may start as soon as next year. The planned footprint of the highrise, per the site map above, stomps out the far end of the building housing Cafe Ginger, Local Pour, and the King Ranch Saddle Shop, spreading out past the edge of the non-protected city historical landmark toward the would-be alignment of Driscoll St. The Hanover-developed tower will reportedly replace those storefronts with some 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space on its ground floor (leaving room, potentially, for a few more Starbucks).


Will this new development prompt yet another round of eyebrow-raising facial reconstruction surgery for the shopping center, formerly known for its art deco visage before Weingarten’s turn-of-the-decade stuccover? Whatever the answer, the project will likely need to be run by the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (though Weingarten has waited out negative rulings from that body before). But true Houston preservationists can take heart: The site plan implies that the double row of head-in parking between the center and the sidewalk out front will be left intact! What better way to honor what’s perhaps the strongest legacy of the grandaddy of all Houston strip centers?

Image: Weingarten Realty

High Hopes on W. Gray

16 Comment

  • I hope that Cafe Ginger is offered some of the retail space in the new building!

  • 30 stories? Not cool, dude.
    Anyone want to make a bet that the neighbors have already started writing up the court injunction?

  • Only a matter of time until the entire center is razed and replaced by Weingarten with boxy highrises and Houston wraps. Sad!

  • Lord knows Houston needs some more class A+ multifamily. I know, I know “not delivering until 2021”. Pootholes still.

  • Cafe Ginger is moving down to the center where TJ Maxx is.

  • Once again, Weingarten does everything it can to stink up its historic properties to try to get us to give up on preservation.

  • Hanover builds a fine product. 30-stories is a bit much for my taste, but i’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I live a few blocks away.

  • @WR: The injunctions practically write themselves in the 77019 ZIP Code . But like Hines,Ltd’s, newer tower @ 2229 San Felipe – it’s going up regardless and the nearby residents can gnash teeth and threaten legal action-which will go NOWHERE in Houston- the Land of NO Zoning. The residents will claim they are being infringed upon – they’re not ; their property values will fall- property values hold steady,if not go UP . Although 30 stories is a bit much, WRI can build basically what it wants. . At least the future residents will be able to walk to the nearby Kroger store. I say ground floor retail . And YES WRI (Weingarten Realty Inc.) , does everything to strip it’s older / historic buildings of any reference to the past. But this is Houston- not known for preservation of it’s older / historic structures. The bigger possible development is a HOTEL slated to be built on the site of the R O Theater – that’s gonna bring out the protesters. But that theater NEEDS to be completely restored / rebuilt. The grape vine says WRI will rebuild the theater in a nearby section of the Center and erect a 30 story hotel on the theaters site. Hopefully WRI will preserve some of the artifacts currently in the theater. Progress and time march forward.

  • @Happy Go Lucky I don’t see how there’s enough space on the River Oaks Theater footprint to build a 30 story hotel!

  • “Everybody wants walkability, but nobody wants density,” is the urban-planning equivalent of “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

  • @Happy

    I have no doubt that Whine-garden has plans to tear down the RO theatre …. I just don’t see then rebuilding it anywhere …. it’s just not in their DNA to do such a thing. Besides, it is the look and feel of the old theatre that draws the crowd and without it there wouldn’t have two customers a night in the place unless they only offered “adult” films.

  • Right on man, keep the over supplied condo market coming with more avail inventory in a down market! Of course now’s the time to build in Houston if you can sustain the hold time with labor cost down (not enough construction jobs vs a few years ago)

  • Angostura, I agree. Additionally, those 30 stories of condos are far better for the environment than 15 acres of houses in the suburbs at the cost of forested land.

  • “Mixed use” (residential and retail mixed together) is the current fetish of developers.

    Examples are: Citycentre, upper Kirby, and River Oaks District.

    And, while a 30-story tower seems out-of-place at this location, it is the piecemeal destruction of the harmonious 1937 Art Deco River Oaks shopping center that is the most egregious sin.

    Weingarten’s plan is, apparently, to destroy this landmark a chunk at a time, obliterating a Houston treasure that helps to make this neighborhood special.

  • Has Michael F. Forlenza ever been to an Alpha-level global city? I doubt it, otherwise he wouldn’t have said that mixed use is a “current fetish”. It’s kinda is and has been the key for successful and sustainable urban development; Houston has just been abysmally slow on in incorporation of mixed use but it is most definitely the future of Houston (and urban planning around the world).

    I also wouldn’t call the design of the River Oaks shopping center harmonious. Yes, a good chunk of it is consistent, but a lot isn’t and it’s pretty apparent to see. And who knows, maybe the art deco theme can still stick around with the new highrise, it isn’t guaranteed to be wiped out. River Oaks still demands class.

  • 1 highrise at West Gray strip center 2 another Montrose and Faiview and 3 another on Taft at West Gray. Is that not too many? The city only cares about raising taxes at any cost without cosidering the potholes and very narrow streets. Too many. Should there not be a cap on the number of dwellings per square mile? Not to mention the big hullbaloo in the middle of Fairview. The traffic will be merciless. Flooding. Do these developers weigh the consequences before the slap these buildings together?????