Residents, business owner fight to save 100-year-old oak tree

People in the Heights are at odds over whether a 100-year-old oak tree should be torn down.

HOUSTON - Slowpokes coffee shop in Oak Forest is the perfect spot to sit back and get that daily caffeine kick.

"We were named by the Houston Press Best Coffee Shop in Houston last week," said JC Rubiralta.

Rubiralta is the owner at Slowpokes. He opened the shop almost one year ago. He's the only other tenant in this dilapidated strip center of West 34th Street.

"We did a lot of improvements when we came in. We showed it a lot of love," Rubiralta said.

Since then, business has been brewing along. Their brand new patio and green space brings in customers every afternoon.

"This part of the low was overgrown. They cleaned it. Now families love coming here, adults love coming here," said Kerin Mayne.

They come for the coffee, but stay for the 100-year-old oak tree. It's a tree slated to be chopped down Saturday. The landlord wants to turn this wants to turn this patio space into more parking for his property.

"Everybody is very disappointed that this may go through," Rubiralta said.

Now Slowpokes' customers are rallying around the business to try and save the tree.

"To tear down a tree for the sake of pavement in a city that just recently flooded because we have so much pavement, it's just ridiculous," Mayne said.

Rubiralta says there's no need for more parking. Customers don't understand why the landlord now wants to tear down the improvements they've made to the property.

"It would be a shame to sell pavement in exchange for this beautiful tree," Mayne said.

Both Slowpokes and the property owner have hired lawyers, but the clock is ticking to come to an agreement and save this 100-year-old tree.

"I want them to come take a look to come sit outside and enjoy being under the tree and decide for yourself if you think it's necessary for that to happen," Rubiralta said.

Ted Cox, the attorney representing the landlord, says the lease is clear that the landlord is able to make these changes. It's all part of a remodel the owner wants to do on the property.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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