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No Dose

Land Use Control Board rejects plan for Midtown CVS pharmacy.

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One could say that a recent CVS proposal failed, in part, because of its side effects.

The proposal for a CVS pharmacy at the corner of Cooper and Union, the site of the former Union Avenue Methodist Church, was voted down by the Land Use Control Board last week.

Amid a number of reasons for rejecting the proposal was the lack of windows on the sides of the proposed pharmacy.

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. Planners said the proposed building reflected "a typical suburban retail development form."

Attorney Ricky Wilkins, representing CVS, said the company spends a great deal of time studying each location 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 there are 40,000 more cars to every 100 pedestrians that travel up and down Union and Cooper."

Opponents of the plan filled the council chambers. They cited many of the same reasons as OPD staff in their criticisms of the project.

"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, CVS locations around the country.

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

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

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