September 04, 2007
And so the demolition begins

I don't know when exactly it happened, since I was out of town for a few days and just drove past it for the first time in nearly a week today, but demolition has finally begun on the River Oaks Shopping Center. The structure is still mostly in place, but the outer walls were pretty much gone as of this morning. Naturally, I left the camera at home today, so I can't show you a picture. I'll try to rectify that tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want one last look at something recognizable as the onetime Shopping Center, or you just like seeing things go boom, drive by and see it while you still can.

UPDATE: From the Chron:

Despite one of Houston's largest historic-preservation campaigns, demolition of the River Oaks Shopping Center began at 1 p.m. this afternoon. A bulldozer knocked in white brick walls at the back of the building at the northeast corner of Shepherd and West Gray -- a well-preserved Art Deco building designated a City of Houston landmark and ruled eligible for the National Historic Register.
Preservationists, neighbors and a reporters gathered in the parking lot next to the demolition site. "It's like a funeral," said Sarah Gish, founder of Save Our Landmarks. "It's a tragedy that a city-designated landmark has to come down."

David Bush, a spokesperson for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, noted that the shopping center is the first of three historic buildings that owner Weingarten Realty Investors is expected to demolish. "The Alabama and River Oaks Theatres are still on the block," Bush said. "The Alabama's next. And if you think people cared about this building, just wait. Feelings about the theaters run ten times stronger."

I'll take some pictures tomorrow. The next question, as always, is how long will it be between demolition and construction? Unlike some other projects, this one is not speculative. The property owner has a specific end in mind. In theory, the only thing holding it back should be the permitting process. We'll see how long that takes.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 04, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston