In less than a week, an online petition sponsored by the Web site Houstonist.com has attracted more than 13,700 signers.
At Historic Houston’s Web site, more than 4,000 individuals have registered to receive e-mail updates about the River Oaks Shopping Center and the Landmark River Oaks Theatre.
City Councilwoman Ada Edwards, whose District D includes the shopping center, said more than 100 letters and e-mail messages have flooded into her office â€” none of them form letters. She and other council members hope to persuade Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors to change its plans.
“We’re going to fight to find a balance between historic preservation and development,” Edwards said.
Such issues haven’t gotten much traction in Houston, where preservation laws are among the weakest in the country and residents have often watched passively as old buildings are torn down for new development.
“I haven’t seen anything like it in the years I’ve been here,” said David Bush, spokesman for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, which set off the furor last week when it named three art-deco landmarks to its Endangered Buildings List: the River Oaks Shopping Center, the Landmark River Oaks Theatre and the Bookstop in the former Alabama Theater.
I don’t usually think much of online petitions, but anything that’s gotten this many signatures for an entirely local issue is worth noticing. Here’s the petition if you want to join in. Calling your City Council member probably wouldn’t hurt, either. Metroblogging Houston has more.