Lockdown: CVS fences in its properties
By Susan Dickson
Reversing a previous decision, CVS Caremark officials last week boarded up and installed chain-link fences around properties it owns that are proposed for a future CVS development, citing the recent occupation of the former WCOM building at 201 N. Greensboro St. in the decision.
“We had initially decided not to put a chain-link fence around the property because it would make it even more of an eyesore in the community. But in light of this weekend’s events, we will be securing the property as soon as possible,” said Leigh Polzella, development representative for CVS Caremark, at a neighborhood meeting about the project last week.
CVS Caremark has filed for a conditional-use permit and a rezoning to allow it to build a two-story 24,000-square-foot building with a 24-hour CVS on the ground floor, office space above it and a 64-space parking lot on land occupied by the former WCOM building, two homes on Center Street and the offices of dentist Debra Seaton.
In December, Polzella said officials were considering putting fences around and boarding up the building at 201 N. Greensboro St. and the house at 104 Center St. because of vandalism.
On Feb. 4, a group of masked protesters identifying themselves as “Carrboro Commune” occupied the 201 North Greensboro building, handing out fliers stating that the occupation was “not a temporary protest, but a permanent occupation intended to establish a social center in the heart of Carrboro, instead of the CVS that would have been here.”
The demonstration ended relatively peacefully after several hours, when police and Mayor Mark Chilton asked protesters to leave or face arrest and the group left the building. The group has promised to return and has announced plans to conduct “guerrilla gardening” at the site on March 17, in which the property will be turned into a community garden.
The building was sold by Weaver Street Market to Revco, a subsidiary of CVS Caremark, in 2010. CVS’ plans to develop the property have drawn fire from nearby residents, who say the development wouldn’t fit into the proposed space and would increase traffic on an already burdened area.
At last week’s meeting, some residents expressed frustration at the occupation and the subsequent decision by CVS to put a fence around the property, as well as the direction of the debate, which has often focused on simply not having a CVS on the corner, rather than the design of the project.
“Go fight the zoning issue and come to a zoning public hearing and do it there,” said Jackie Tanner, who said she also opposes CVS’ proposal. “I am getting tired of sitting here and wasting my time and listening to people rail against corporate America.”
Residents also debated whether the design of the project, which developers say they modeled after Carr Mill Mall, should be more modern.
“[The proposed design] blends in the mill town,” said Celia Pierce.
“I like the idea and appreciate the fact that you all are trying to keep us looking the way that we have looked,” she said.
James Carnahan disagreed, saying he would like to see a more creative design.
“This is a key intersection at the very heart of town and what we find at these kinds of intersections in communities that have been here for a long time is really important architecture,” he said. “I see you trying to copy Carr Mill, and I wouldn’t want you to do that.”
Polzella said CVS officials have not found a tenant for the second-floor space of the proposed project, but that they had been in discussions with the county about using that space for its southwest library branch. However, she said, county officials have said the space isn’t compatible with the vision the county has for a library, which would need more square footage and first-floor space.
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on the project on March 27.