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Alabama Theater On S. Shepherd Developments


kylejack

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Frmo the GHPA:

Weingarten Realty plans Alabama Theater interior demolition; Contact Staples today

Weingarten Realty is taking bids for the interior demolition of the former Alabama Theater, 2922 S. Shepherd. According to Swamplot.com, plans prepared by Heights Venture Architects show major alterations to the floor ceiling and walls, including removal of the medallions, murals and Art Deco detailing pcitured here. The tenant will reportedly be Staples, the office supply retailer.

GHPA is contacting Staples to ask the company to maintain the Alabama’s distinctive interior design. Staples’ statement of corporate responsibility includes a commitment to environmental excellence. GHPA will remind company officials that historic preservation reflects a commitment to the environment.

GHPA is encouraging Houstonians to express their support for preserving the Alabama by contacting Staples’ community relations officer Joy Errico at joy.errico@staples.com or 508-253-7957 and corporate operations officer Owen Davis at owen.davis@staples.com or 508-253-8468. It is generally more effective to focus on businesses who are hoping to attract customers and generate community goodwill than the developer who has already found a tenant.

Although Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission has designated the Alabama Theater (1939) a City of Houston Historic Landmark, the designation only applies to the building’s facade. If the proposed work on the Alabama goes forward, the result will be another version of the now-vacant Hollywood Video outlet in the former Tower Theater (1936) on Westheimer at Yoakum, a gutted big box store with a theater marquee on the façade.

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So only the exterior of buildings designated as historic landmarks count?

It would be impractical to keep the interior as a bookstore/Theater setup. Bookstores are going away and lord knows how long it would take for someone to buy up the theater to show movies.

I just hope they spare the murals and the interior finishes.

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It was doing fine as a book store until Weingarten hooked them up with a Barnes and Noble in the new development, bringing yet another Starbucks to the corner of Shepherd and West Gray. I'm quite sure that when the River Oaks theater gets bulldozed that it will be replaced with a fourth Starbucks.

Edited by kylejack
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http://culturemap.com/newsdetail/03-24-10-update-the-alabama-theater-caught-in-demolition-swirl-confirms/

An official at Heights Venture Architects told CultureMap this morning that the company did submit plans detailing a near total interior demolition of the Alabama at the specific request of Weingarten (the company that owns the vacant building).
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What's going to happen to all the interior details/ artifacts?

I just love that lobby entrance w/ staircase. Hate to see the interior gutted, but surprised it's stood untouched so long in this city.

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I heard the Weingarten rep speak about River Oaks theater at a neartown meeting-- it was guy new to the city and couldn't answer too many questions because he kept admitting he was too new to the situation to know all the details and answers-and there were a lot of questions thrown out at that meeting- mostly it was all about Weingarten hoping some organization came forward to "save" the theater or whatever ------------------------------------------

I guess this will be the same stance that is taken now?

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Not a fan of that bifurcated parking lot or 1st generation apron site designs. Given the compactness of the street to facade scale; my solution would be to raze the entire property, expand the Shepard ROW, and then build a 100 year building worthy of preservation efforts. This idea of saving the architectural "skin" for the "skin"s sake is asinine busy body logic. Look at the Tower theater, explain to me how that preserves any 1st generation modern legacy? The most notable aspect is the window sealed face and it's abortive c-section entry. To clarify, architecture is about space not frilly decorations.

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Not a fan of that bifurcated parking lot or 1st generation apron site designs. Given the compactness of the street to facade scale; my solution would be to raze the entire property, expand the Shepard ROW, and then build a 100 year building worthy of preservation efforts. This idea of saving the architectural "skin" for the "skin"s sake is asinine busy body logic. Look at the Tower theater, explain to me how that preserves any 1st generation modern legacy? The most notable aspect is the window sealed face and it's abortive c-section entry. To clarify, architecture is about space not frilly decorations.

porTENT is right and, unfortunately in this case, the interior is the space. William Randolph Hearst moved entire rooms from their former European castles to San Simeon but he had LOTS of money.

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Alamo Drafthouse's official response to the Facebook group:

"First and foremost we are flattered and very appreciative of the "Put Alamo Drafthouse in Houston's Alabama Street Theater" fans for their support of the Alamo. In terms of the Alabama, we agree wholeheartedly with the group's members that it would make an excellent Alamo locat...ion and space. Several months ago, we had a number of discussions with Weingarten in regards to bringing an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to the Alabama, unfortunately at the time, we were not able to come to an agreement with them. We've recently reengaged with Weingarten on that subject and we'll be sure to keep you posted on the progress of these discussions.

It would be a shame to see the Alabama destroyed, and if there is a way to save it we want to take a lead in doing so."

(Neil Michaelsen, President of Triple Tap Ventures, which owns the two existing Houston area Alamo's and has the development rights for any future Houston Alamo Drafthouse locations)

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I have not been in that area in a while, is the pet store still operating in the northern end of the building? And if so, will there be enough space to accommodate 2 screens? I'm sure if this is to be negotiated a significant amount of off site parking will have to be contracted and it will probably not be very cheap. Seeing the shenanigans pulled by the Fairview street bars and their parking contract situation, I would be very wary of providing more than 50% of parking off site. Egress will be a major issue as well and will likely be cause for some radical renovations; not to mention kitchen fire ratings, external grease trap location, etc.

Edited by infinite_jim
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I have not been in that area in a while, is the pet store still operating in the northern end of the building? And if so, will there be enough space to accommodate 2 screens? I'm sure if this is to be negotiated a significant amount of off site parking will have to be contracted and it will probably not be very cheap. Seeing the shenanigans pulled by the Fairview street bars and their parking contract situation, I would be very wary of providing more than 50% of parking off site. Egress will be a major issue as well and will likely be cause for some radical renovations; not to mention kitchen fire ratings, external grease trap location, etc.

I thought that you went to UH architecture school. You realize that they don't want you to think in terms of realistic constraints, right?

+1

Edited by TheNiche
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I think parking will be sufficient. Don't forget about the lot in the back as well. There's a couple hundred spaces to service the two facilities, and they would operate mostly on different timelines, weekends being the major exception. As to offsite parking, there's not really any available in this area.

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Back when it was Butera's and Cactus Music and Whole Foods and The Empire Strikes Back and Rocky Horror, I don't remember parking being a problem. All of those things drew pretty good crowds.

What's changed? I am fully willing to believe that my perception and memory are imperfect, but I did spend a lot of time in that area in the 1979-1984 era.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 11 months later...
Dallas, and frankly the entire state of Texas, is a place we’ve wanted to be for a long time. We are a company that grows in a very controlled and thoughtful way in order to maintain the Trader Joe’s customer experience. We’re excited about bringing Trader Joe’s to the wonderful cities, towns, and neighborhoods in and around Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, and beyond. We are actively looking for sites and we’re anxious to identify some great locations and begin hiring Crew Members.

http://www.kutnews.org/post/trader-joes-coming-texas

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There are still a bunch of empty grocery shells around the city from when Albertson's left and Kroger and Randall's consolidated about a decade ago. Wonder if they are going to try to fill any of those or do new construction. Is Trader Joes's a traditional supermarket or more of a upscale, urban place?

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There are still a bunch of empty grocery shells around the city from when Albertson's left and Kroger and Randall's consolidated about a decade ago. Wonder if they are going to try to fill any of those or do new construction. Is Trader Joes's a traditional supermarket or more of a upscale, urban place?

Their footprint isn't that big. They generally are only about 10,000 sq ft per location. Specialty foods, but very reasonable prices. I'm excited already!

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Their footprint isn't that big. They generally are only about 10,000 sq ft per location. Specialty foods, but very reasonable prices. I'm excited already!

More like the downtown Spec's, then? Maybe with less alcohol and more food?

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More like the downtown Spec's, then? Maybe with less alcohol and more food?

I'm a huge fan of Trader Joe's and can't wait.! The best way to describe Trader Joe's a "More Laid back Whole Foods" with a "Central Market food selection" (Minus the meats) and at a much lower price point than both. Their pre-cooked, frozen food selection is absolutely one of kind!

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Oops - I didn't include a description of the store - this is from the Trader Joe's site (and the stores are now owned by the family behind the Aldi supermarkets):

It all started in the 50s... Would you believe we started out as a small chain of convenience stores? It's true. Way back in 1958. We were called Pronto Markets. In '67, our founder, the original Trader Joe, changed our name (yes, to Trader Joe's) and the way we do business.

We made the stores bigger (if you can imagine), decked the walls with cedar planks and donned our crew in cool Hawaiian shirts. Most importantly, we started putting innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods in the "Trader Joe's" name. That cut our costs and saved you money. Still does.

And that's important, because "Value" is a concept we take very seriously. And by value we mean great everyday prices on all of our great products — no sales, no gimmicks, no clubs to join, no special cards to swipe... How do we do it?

* We buy direct from suppliers whenever possible, we bargain hard to get the best price, and then pass the savings on to you.

* If an item doesn't pull its weight in our stores, it goes away to gangway for something else.

* We buy in volume and contract early to get the best prices.

* Most grocers charge their suppliers fees for putting an item on the shelf. This results in higher prices... so we don't do it.

* We keep our costs low — because every penny we save is a penny you save.

http://www.traderjoes.com/

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More like the downtown Spec's, then? Maybe with less alcohol and more food?

Part of the appeal of Trader Joe's is that there really isn't another chain that compares with it. It has a much higher emphasis on buying niche items that they can sell for a good price than on making sure that you have everything that you need. You pretty quickly find a couple of things that you have to have and then they've got you hooked.

I was never able to do all my shopping there, but I definitely went every couple of weeks to pick up a few favorites.

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Part of the appeal of Trader Joe's is that there really isn't another chain that compares with it. It has a much higher emphasis on buying niche items that they can sell for a good price than on making sure that you have everything that you need. You pretty quickly find a couple of things that you have to have and then they've got you hooked.

I was never able to do all my shopping there, but I definitely went every couple of weeks to pick up a few favorites.

The couple I've seen have been in very walkable urban areas, relying heavily on local foot traffic. Be interesting to see if they stick with that model or say "When in Rome...." if/when they do end up here. Definitely not somewhere you would do a week's shopping so will not appeal less to people shopping for larger households.

Edited by sidegate
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The couple I've seen have been in very walkable urban areas, relying heavily on local foot traffic. Be interesting to see if they stick with that model or say "When in Rome...." if/when they do end up here. Definitely not somewhere you would do a week's shopping so will not appeal less to people shopping for larger households.

it's not unusual for them to rely on automobiles to bring customers. the ones in fairfax, virginia, as well as albuquerque and santa fe come to mind. i've seen plenty of, both, urban and suburban stores. my impression is that they are usually placed in slightly more well-to-do areas. i can see one in montrose or the heights. and even the woodlands. i guess, we'll see. as far as alcohol, not sure if anyone mentioned it, but they have a pretty big wine selection. the store often has a quirky, islandy feel (trader joe's, trade winds, etc.)--often lots of orchids for sale, sometimes hibiscus prints on bags for sale. i really like it. it's fun with inexpensive and unusual dried and frozen foods.

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We made the stores bigger (if you can imagine)...Most importantly, we started putting innovative, hard-to-find, great-tasting foods in the "Trader Joe's" name. That cut our costs and saved you money. Still does.

And that's important, because "Value" is a concept we take very seriously. And by value we mean great everyday prices on all of our great products — no sales, no gimmicks, no clubs to join, no special cards to swipe... How do we do it?

* We buy direct from suppliers whenever possible, we bargain hard to get the best price, and then pass the savings on to you.

* If an item doesn't pull its weight in our stores, it goes away to gangway for something else.

* We buy in volume and contract early to get the best prices.

* Most grocers charge their suppliers fees for putting an item on the shelf. This results in higher prices... so we don't do it.

* We keep our costs low — because every penny we save is a penny you save.

This sounds awfully similar to another retailer I've read about. The name escapes me at the moment.

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This sounds awfully similar to another retailer I've read about. The name escapes me at the moment.

Does it, Red?

"Coulombe also wanted to make sure his employees were paid fairly, instituting a policy in the 1960s that full-time employees had to make at least the median household income for their communities—an average of $7,000 a year at the time, $48,000 today. Store captains, almost all of whom are promoted from within, can make six figures annually. Trader Joe's also allows part-timers to earn health-care benefits, a feature that makes the store a haven for artists, musicians, and other creative types who wouldn't normally seek supermarket jobs."

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_09/b4073058455307.htm

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i can see one in montrose

Possible. There's a lot on the NW corner of Westheimer and Hazard (which, intriguingly, has a brand new For Sale sign) that is an appropriate size. But seriously, how many grocery stores does one area need? Between HEB & Whole foods, the two Krogers, Randall's & the Fiesta.....seems more than enough, even if the latter does take the fall.

Edited by sidegate
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The soon to be vacant Fiesta site on 14th and Studewood?

I'm sure it's on their radar if they are serious about looking here. Lot might even be on the big side but that's a good problem to have here.

Edited by sidegate
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There's a Trader Joe's on Boylston St. in Boston's Back Bay. It does a banging business with students from Northeastern, BU, Emerson, and Suffolk plus the tourists staying near the Pru Center.

There's also one along the Cambridge side of the river that has a huge parking lot and doesn't rely on foot traffic at all.

Honestly, the place is ok, but I never quite understood the hype. Produce is lacking. Essentials like toilet paper can't be found. However, if you want to pick up frozen berries, packaged guacamole, some bananas, $3 wine, and bulk nuts, then you're in luck.

It's a specialty store with a niche ala Spec's but Spec's is local, and the one in Midtown blows any Trader Joe's I've been in out of the water...

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Honestly, the place is ok, but I never quite understood the hype. Produce is lacking. Essentials like toilet paper can't be found. However, if you want to pick up frozen berries, packaged guacamole, some bananas, $3 wine, and bulk nuts, then you're in luck.

It's a specialty store with a niche ala Spec's but Spec's is local, and the one in Midtown blows any Trader Joe's I've been in out of the water...

Dude, they wear Hawaiian shirts! There from California!

Seriously, Houstonians would never believe that a local store could be as good or better than a California one. Part of being hip and cool is trashing anything about Houston, while simultaneously pining for anything from Cali, Austin, or other cool places. It is the self-loathing gene that is in every Houstonian's DNA.

Reading about the place, I keep hearing that you cannot complete your shopping in one trip. As you say, toilet paper is not stocked. This sounds like a store that I would not miss if it wasn't in my neighborhood. But, for the sanity of my brand-needy Heights friends, I hope they put one here to assuage their pain over Wallyworld coming to town.

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I don't get the hype of this place. I've been in them a few times and fail to see how it is better than places we already have.

I can see it being attractive to people who transplanted from somewhere else where they had them though, for a bit of familiarity.

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Dude, they wear Hawaiian shirts! There from California!

Seriously, Houstonians would never believe that a local store could be as good or better than a California one. Part of being hip and cool is trashing anything about Houston, while simultaneously pining for anything from Cali, Austin, or other cool places. It is the self-loathing gene that is in every Houstonian's DNA.

Are people trashing Houston in this discussion? Or are people simply excited for a retailer with a *very* strong following to come to the state (bringing well paying jobs - did you bother to read my response on the previous page?)? Take a deep breath, Red - relax. Try it for once. Nobody is bashing anybody, nobody is saying Californians are superior to Houstonians/Texans. If you don't like TJ's, don't shop there, and don't insult people who do (again, sound familiar?)

Reading about the place, I keep hearing that you cannot complete your shopping in one trip. As you say, toilet paper is not stocked.

So, what you're saying is that any store that doesn't have 100% of the items you need to maintain your household isn't worth going to? Even for you, Red, that's quite a stretch of logic.

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  • The title was changed to Alabama Theater On S. Shepherd Developments

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