Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Prescription for CVS

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM

The proposal for a CVS pharmacy at the corner of Cooper and Union — where the former Union Avenue Methodist Church sits — failed at the Land Use Control Board earlier today.

Staff from the Office of Planning and Development recommended rejecting the proposal, citing issues with the site plan — both the placement of the building, as well as the amount of windows — the demolition of the historic Union Avenue Methodist Church building, and the fact that the proposal does not meet the standards of the yet-to-be-approved Midtown zoning overlay. OPD said the plan “reflects a typical suburban retail development form.”

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Attorney Ricky Wilkins, representing CVS, said the company spends a great deal of time studying each of their sites before designing a site plan.

“If the data supports an urban design, that’s what CVS builds. If the data indicates that a suburban design as described — we don’t believe ours is that — is needed then that is what our site plan reflects,” Wilkins said. “Union Avenue is a state highway. Our pedestrian counts indicate that 40,000 more cars to every 100 pedestrians that travel up and down Union and Cooper.”

Opponents of the plan were out in full-force, filling the council chambers. They cited many of the same reasons why OPD staff recommended against approval.

“There are three major drug stores in a five-block area,” said Gordon Alexander, founder of Save Overton Square. “A new CVS … will not fit any pressing need in the neighborhood.”

Chooch Pickard, head of the Memphis Regional Design Center and a preservation architect, showed pictures of other, more urban-type, CVS locations around the country and suggested they hold the current proposal.

“It’s absolutely not appropriate. It really should be brick for it to fit within the character of Midtown,” Pickard said. “In other cities where they’ve been held to a higher standard, they’ve conformed to those standards.”

“I moved to Midtown because it’s not the suburbs. I think it would be a shame to see this development plopped down in the middle of Midtown," Pickard said.

Though the application was denied, CVS can appeal the decision to the City Council.

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