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Neighborhood Spotlight- River Oaks, Houston
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Neighborhood Spotlight: River Oaks, Houston

by
Jan 21st, 2015

A national model for community planning, the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston is a treat for those who live there. Residents of the neighborhood have convenient access to all the arts and entertainment downtown Houston has to offer.

But they do not have to sacrifice peace and quiet in exchange. Some seriously well-coordinated planning, coupled with the proximity of natural features such as the Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Park, gives the River Oaks neighborhood a serene atmosphere rarely found so close to major downtown areas.

Get to know the River Oaks neighborhood and what makes it such an attractive place to live.

History

The inception of the River Oaks neighborhood can be traced back to the early 1920s, when it was established as an independent community. With help from prominent attorney Hugh Potter, the sons of former Texas governor Jim Hogg purchased 200 acres of land surrounding the River Oaks Country Club for development. The zoning and construction that followed ensured the community wouldn’t get too crowded and there would always be plenty of green space. Smart planning standards, landscape design, and regulations governing architecture ensured everything that went up in River Oaks over the following years belonged there.

In 1927, River Oaks was annexed by the city of Houston and became a neighborhood. The development carried out in the years prior, however, left its mark on the community. It has been one of the most desirable and expensive communities to live in from shortly after its founding up to the present day.

Culture

With one of the most diverse and impressive food scenes in the country and a thriving arts district, there is no denying Houston has culture. As a neighborhood, River Oaks is no exception. The River Oaks Shopping Center, built in 1927, has been a popular spot for browsing and hanging out ever since. The shopping center is home to over 75 shops and restaurants that showcase unique, local and regional flair. Also housed in the shopping center is the River Oaks Theatre, which was constructed in the Art Deco style in 1939 and still screens independent films.

The Houston Museum District is just a short drive (or bike ride) away from AMLI River Oaks. It’s a destination to maximize the use of artistic, scientific, and educational resources by residents and visitors to Houston.  The Houston Museum District Association collaborates with 19 museums that are within a one-and-a-half mile radius of the Mecom Fountain in Hermann Park.

Cuisine

While Houston has so much good food that noone should eat all of their meals out in a single neighborhood, River Oaks offers a great selection of restaurants for when you want to dine close to home. Americas River Oaks, housed in the River Oaks Shopping Center, offers a sampling of Latin America’s finest cuisines, concocted by world-renowned chef Michael Cordua. Brenner’s Steakhouse on the Bayou offers a scenic setting in which to enjoy one of the most highly-rated steaks in Houston. Cafe Ginger is an excellent place to grab Cantonese food with a Thai Twist. La Griglia and Divino have both mastered the art of impressing Italian food lovers and vinos. And this is just a taste of what you can chow down on in the River Oaks neighborhood.

Parks and Recreation

When its design was laid out, ample space was allocated toward parks in River Oaks. As a result, the neighborhood boasts a higher concentration of green space than most neighborhoods in the very green Bayou City. This, coupled with the copious number of well-maintained yards  give the neighborhood a garden feel.

The parks in the neighborhood include River Oaks Park, Del Monte Park, Olympia Park, Pine Valley Park, and Sleepy Hollow Park. Those living in the northern part of the neighborhood, including residents of AMLI River Oaks, also enjoy convenient access to Memorial Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country and a favorite among joggers in Houston.

Buffalo Bayou, Uouston’s most significant natural resource, is undergoing a revitalization and transformation that includes natural landscaping, footpaths, trail lighting, water features, and pedestrian bridges. It’s slated to be complete this summer. Bonus if you live at AMLI 2121 or AMLI Memorial Heights: It’s directly across the street from AMLI 2121 and AMLI Memorial Heights backs up to the running trail…you can just use a gate along the fence to access it. Talk about convenience! And if you have a pet, the Johnny Steele Dog Park, a two-acre park with large and small dog ponds, washing areas, and shade structures, just opened this past Saturday!

Just a mile from downtown Houston but offering large lots and spacious apartments in a neighborhood easily confused as suburban by visitors, River Oaks is unique in the best of ways. If you haven’t explored this area, take the time to check out what it has to offer.

Do you live or spend a lot of time in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood? What are your favorite places to eat and explore?

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View All Posts by Jason Ernst
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