October 28, 2006
River Oaks development update

Via Houstonist, the latest news on the eventual River Oaks shopping center redevelopment.

Cynthia Rice has lived in her home for 18 years, and on clear nights, she said she likes to look at the sky. But that might change. If Weingarten Realty goes through with its current plans for the River Oaks Shopping Center, she could soon be faced with a three-story parking garage seven feet from her property line.

Rice and about a dozen other residents of Brentwood Drive, behind the center’s north side, recently met with Weingarten. And several said they were told not to disclose details of the meeting.

But Rice was not happy to hear the news. She said she was told that part of the center from the Black-Eyed Pea to Jos. A. Bank would be redeveloped into a two-story structure with a parking garage behind it.

"Being one of the people to have a three-story structure on the back of my property line, I can't say they really care whether I like it or not," she said. "That leaves our property wide open to people jumping over the fence and breaking into our houses."


John De Meritt, a vice president of leasing for Weingarten, said the neighborhood association had contacted Weingarten in regards to the property, but because many residents had questions about rumors they had heard, the center was also discussed.

"We did give them an update on where we were," he said. "But I told them this is all preliminary, and when we do have final plans, we will let the public know."

De Meritt dismissed rumors that the space would be used for high rise condominiums.

Yet, an employee at Jos a Bank, who asked to remain anonymous, said that is what he had heard. However, he added, "the plans change every time."

It's all speculation now, though frankly I tend to disbelieve anything that a Weingarten shill says, as they've not exactly been straight shooters during this saga. Far as I'm concerned, this aspect of Weingarten's master plan for the center is of a piece with the Bolsover story, which is to say it'll be a lot of really dense development in an area that already is over-trafficked. I don't drive on that stretch of West Gray for the same reason that I avoid the Rice Village. The streets there just can't handle the volume of cars as it is. Whatever Weingarten ultimately decides, it's unlikely to make that situation any better, and unlike the Rice Village area, there's no way that a crazy light rail shuttle scheme could help out. It's just a mess, and I'm not sure what can be done about it short of enough obstacles from City Council to frustrate Weingarten out of whatever they have in mind. I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 28, 2006 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack