Here’s the Save-the-River-Oaks-theatre petition site, and here’s another Houston Chronicle article (it ran last Friday, 7.28) about the public clamor to try and save this beautiful old theatre with the beautiful red-and-yellow neon marquee. Over the last ten days or so the online petition (sponsored by the Houstonist.com site, although you’d never know it by looking at the petition page) has close to 14,000 signers.
The Chronicle story also reports that City Councilwoman Ada Edwards and “other council members” hope to persuade Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors to change its plans. Nobody is going to “persuade” the Weingarten gang to change anything — pressure that threatens their pocketbook is the only thing that big-wheel developers understand.
Make no mistake — the Weingarten executives who are running the local Houston show are the bad guys in this story. They want to impose unwanted, culturally- damaging change upon the only section of Houston has has any real sense of architectural soul, and concerned citizens are uniting in opposition to this. The possibility of the River Oaks theatre being destroyed is not a benign act of nature — it’s a matter of deliberate will on the part of some obviously greedy people. And if you ask me the following pro-River Oaks statement, issued by Landmark Theatres CEO Bill Banowsky, strikes me as rather wishy-washy in the face of this:
“Landmark Theatres is 100% committed to the historic River Oaks Theatre. We hope to continue to serve Houston residents with the best in quality art and independent film for a very long time. Landmark Theatres upholds a strong tradition of saving and restoring old movie palaces. We’ve accomplished this with the River Oaks Theatre and many other beautiful theaters across the country. We believe this to be a worthy undertaking for the appreciative audiences in the communities we serve. It is their support that has enabled Landmark Theatres to bring these wonderful buildings back to life.”
If Landmark was “100% committed to the historic River Oaks theatre”, wouldn’t you think they’d issue a statement with a bit more fighting spirit…that wasn’t so generically bland?