Fate of historic River Oaks Theatre announced after closing its doors at start of pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced what's next for the historic River Oaks Theatre after it closed its doors back in March of 2021 when the owner could not reach an agreement with a real estate company.

SEE RELATED STORY: Historic River Oaks Theatre closes doors after 82 years open

The curtain isn't closing on a one-of-a-kind venue in the heart of Houston. The River Oaks Theatre sat empty for about a year without an operator. The property owner, Weingarten Realty, and the former theater operator, Landmark, couldn't come to an agreement, so a lot of people thought the city would lose the landmark.

"We have a new message for the marquee, and it is that the River Oaks Theatre will open again and will be preserved for future generations," said Turner.

The crowd, the lights and the action returned to the historic theater during Wednesday's big announcement.

"The plan is to keep the soul of the theatre," said Omar Khan, the president and CEO of the theatre.

That announcement was met with a loud applause.

The affiliate of Houston-based Star Cinema Grill is taking over operations at the theatre. The history, the art deco design, and the name will all be preserved, and there is a new plan to serve food and beverages. It's all the result of teamwork among friends of the Theater, the City of Houston, Kimko Realty, and the new operator.

"As a native Houstonian, who lives right down the street, I desperately want this theater to be open again as it was in my youth," said Doug Harris, the president of the Houston Film Critics Society.

There's no date yet for when the theatre will reopen. Community members who fought to save it said, for now, it's just good to know the lights will stay on.

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