Contractors removed a line of trees, including several large oaks, from the edge of the River Oaks Shopping Center Wednesday as Weingarten Realty Investors continued its preparations to demolish part of the 70-year-old center.
The action came less than three weeks after the city Planning Commission recommended that the shopping center be designated as a landmark, making it eligible for tax breaks intended to discourage demolition. The City Council has yet to act on the designation, which would not prevent Weingarten from demolishing the center.
The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance sent a petition with more than 25,000 signatures to the chairman and CEO of Barnes & Noble, urging the chain to reconsider leasing space in the Weingarten project.
Weingarten said in a statement Wednesday that it intends to proceed with its plans.
"Weingarten has invested a great deal of time and financial resources consulting with top architects to ensure that certain design elements, such as the curved facade and other modern and Art Deco treatments, are included in the new structure," the statement said.