Published: Apr 12, 2012 10:10 AM
Modified: Apr 12, 2012 10:11 AM
As a resident of "downtown" Carrboro for the most of the past 20 years, I walk or ride my bike past the now-abandoned building at 201 N Greensboro St. now owned by a CVS holding company, the planned site for a 24-hour CVS. What happens to this corner has long-term consequences, and the first criteria should be community support. Here is my idea for an outcome that I believe would have that support, in the form of a fictional letter. Wouldn't it be nice to get this from CVS's foundation?
Dear citizens and friends of Carrboro,
My name is Jennifer Veilleux; I am in charge of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust foundation and the CVS Caremark Community Grants program for this region. I have been watching the process our store development team has been going through to allow us to put a new store on the property at 201 N Greensboro St., “the” prime spot in downtown Carrboro that we are so fortunate to own.
It is pretty obvious that we don’t have much – if any – community support for the project, and it is understandable. Traffic is horrible at that corner already, plus we have a very successful store (with a long lease and the option to expand) right across the street. Townspeople were right to ask how the benefits of a larger selection of ibuprofen out-weighed the costs to the “commons.”
WELL, we think we have a great solution. One of our goals in purchasing the property was to prevent a competitor from building there, and we have achieved that. It seems to make more sense to do here what we have done in many towns across the country, make this a project for our charitable foundation, and turn a public relations disaster into a triumph! Our foundation’s mission is, in part, to “support local communities in which we live and work, to make a positive impact and build healthier communities.” This is a perfect opportunity to do just that.
SO instead of pushing ahead against the will of the people, we would like to help the community develop this property in a manner in which there will be no objection, no anti-CVS signs in yards, nothing but good will between the community and CVS. We think it’s a win-win for all involved. To wit:
We propose to lease the property to the town of Carrboro for $1 a year, with a 50-year renewable lease. We then will donate $100,000 to the town for developing the property to create a “Caremark Community Park.” It will, of course, be left to the town to determine what will be included, but we envision (see artist’s conception) a multi-use park that might include:
1) Playspace for children
2) A covered pavilion for concerts, dances, and community events
3) Urban community “farming” using the model http://www.growingpower.org/
to help create a sustainable “community food system”
4) Open air sales; the property is zoned to allow outdoor retail, this could be small arts and crafts dealers, food vendors, etc.
(Another benefit of this approach is that the owners of the house on Center Street may be glad to sell their property for this use, which could be developed as a community center. We would help the town with financing if needed)
We would at this time like to formally withdraw our rezoning request and immediately begin to work with the community towards this new goal. Let’s start by tearing down the fences!
CVS Caremark Foundation
We can dream can’t we???
Chris Frank lives in downtown Carrboro.