River Oaks Theatre to Be Razed for (wait for it…) Barnes & Noble

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UPDATE: Petition created to protect River Oaks 3. Click here to view and sign. Please post this link on your blogs as well.

Houston’s crappy lack of defense of historic buildings strikes again. A Chronicle article today quoting tenants of the River Oaks shopping center, owned by Weingarten Realty, stated that tenants were told the Black Eyed Pea (I just freaking ate there last night!) building and the buildings including the River Oaks Theatre would be razed for…get this…a Barnes and Noble Bookstore on the north side of the street and a high rise residential building on the south side.

The freaking River Oaks Theatre would become a high rise. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

What’s worse is that many in the architectural community also believe that because Barnes and Noble owns Bookstop that they would demolish the Alabama Bookstop about a mile south of the shopping center. That would mean that one historic structure preserved by Barnes and Noble (the Alabama) and another one (the River Oaks) would be cratered with one blow.

We’ve already lost the Alabama (those of you old enough to remember the re-enactments of Rocky Horror Picture Show in there on Saturday nights know how cool it was) to a bookstore and Tower Theater (how many great shows did I see in there?) to a Hollywood Video. We also lost Rockefellar’s, one of the best live music venues in Houston history, because of the building of Verizon Wireless Theater downtown.

Look, I’m no historic preservationist, but when are we going to make a decision that Houston ought to have a little history in its acrhitecture. How many buildings do we have to have turned to rubble before we decide its enough. The Astrodome is hanging on by a thread only because they want to put a hotel in it. Astroworld is gone, however. The Rice Hotel would’ve disappeared if not for the renaissance of downtown. But, countless other landmarks have gone bye bye thanks to our city’s lack of a serious historic preservation ordinance and a general lack of care for old buildings.

I, for one, do not want to see the inner loop turned into fucking Sugar Land. No offense to the suburbanites, but there is a reason why Houston Metropolitan Magazine once did a breakdown of the difference between the inner loop and the outer loop citing things like:


Outside the Loop – two golden retrievers
Inside the Loop – ten leukemia-riddled cats

Favorite Opera:

Inside the Loop – Aida
Outside the Loop – Winfrey

I’m all for the malls and strip centers the further out of town you get, but inside the loop, I want the graffiti and the small mom and pop stores. I don’t want to lose Three Brothers Bakery (who would with those cinnamon croissants?). And it leaves in question other great establishments that AREN’T chains like All Records and Events. What about Laff Stop?

Houston is too often about stip malls, but this is one that deserves to be preserved. Hell, I even find the Starbuck’s across the street from one another at least funny.

I love this city, but sometimes the incredible power wielded by developers is just ridiculous.

We’ve got plenty of chain bookstores for Christ sake. Can’t we just have ONE tiny little slice of history? Just one?

Here are some helpful links relating to this story:

Petition to Prevent the Demolition
Chronicle Story
Houstonist.com Story
OfftheKuff Blog Post
River Oaks Shoping Center
Weingarten Realty
Greater Houston Preservation Alliance

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