Foes of a CVS pharmacy to rise at the intersection of Union and Cooper were in full battle array this morning, holding signs and asking for honks of support as they mourned the impending demolition of Union Avenue United Methodist Church.
The group's leader, Gordon Alexander of the Midtown Action Coalition, conceded that the protest was symbolic. Since the demonstration was already scheduled, he and others decided to proceed even though hope of preserving the historic building is all but lost.
"We have no alternative," he said. "They're going to tear the church down."
Friday, Chancellor Arnold Goldin upheld an earlier decision that essentially clears the way for the historic structure to be razed. It will be replaced by what protestors consider a bland, suburban-style retail pharmacy that doesn't fit with the neighborhood's quirky bohemian character.
Once built, the new CVS will sit directly across from a large Ike's Pharmacy and variety store. CVS bought the building for more than $2 million from St. Luke's UMC — almost $1 million more than a Presbyterian church would have paid to reuse the building as a church, Alexander said.
He called CVS' rebuff of about 1,500 signatures against its acquisition of the building "stubborn" and "arrogant."
"They basically bought their way in," he said.
Although company representatives have argued their new store will create jobs and fit as much as possible with the neighborhood's overall look, the protestors weren't buying it. And if Alexander has his way, plenty of people in Midtown won't be buying it either. He fully envisions an all-out boycott.
"Lots of people won't shop at CVS," he said.
The demolition could proceed in a few weeks.