Search This Blog

Saturday, June 17, 2006

History of the Walgreens Fight

Walgreens is once again requesting to build a Drug Store at Carrollton and Claiborne, and is requesting a variance of the Carrollton Ave. Inner-city Overlay.* There is no firm commitment at this point that a grocery store will ever be built next to it. Those who have attended the June 15th meeting with Shelley Midura, may wish to update us on any progress that was achieved.

History of the Carrollton Residents fight for a grocery store.
1. An open forum sponsored by Uptown Triangle, Carrollton/Riverbend, Upper Carrollton Residents and MARI was held at Xavier where approximately 60 people went to the microphone and each stated they wanted a grocery store at that corner. The meeting was attended by 90 plus residents The Walgreen developer from Houston, their attorney, Councilman Scott Shea, Alex Heaton, Steve Scalise were present. The event, advertised on widely distributed flyers, was designed to tell Walgreen and Councilman Shea that the neighborhood wanted a grocery store.

2.. Picketing at the site with signs that reflected the neighborhood's overwhelming desire for a grocery store rather than another drug store. It was carried by the TV media on more than one occasion.As many recall, who were involved in stopping Walgreen from obtaining a variance of the "Inner City Carrollton Overlay," * the upholding of the Overlay was crucial to the redevelopment of the square, but was not the sole issue. A grocery store for the site had overwhelming neighborhood support for miles around. The position of the neighborhood was to uphold the parking and design requirements of the Overlay and to force the issue of getting a grocery store. Walgreen withdrew their request for a variance and decided to wait out the neighborhood opposition to a variance.(The Overlay addresses “setback” requirements on a major thoroughfare, that is, a structure is to be built near the sidewalk with the parking in the rear. This urban design benefits aesthetics of the streetscape with sensitivity to the surrounding residential properties and in this case Palmer Park as well. It also affords convenience for pedestrian traffic. In contrast, a suburban design has parking near the side walk with the building set back behind the parking lot, e.g. Veterans Blvd. The overlay was signed into an ordinance by Peggy Wilson and recommended by the City Planning Commission as a reaction to some unsightly commercial development that had occurred between Earhardt and I-10.)
3. Petitions numbering approximately 1000 in favor of a grocery store were collected by all neighborhood associations from Broadway and beyond to the Jefferson Parish line and from the Mississippi River to Pritchard Place and Walmsley Ave. Never before had this area collected as many petitions.

4. Thousands of flyers were distributed announcing several neighborhood meetings to obtain input from residents. All neighborhood associations overwhelmingly supported a grocery store on that site, but would not support a variance of the Carrollton Ave. Overlay design ordinance.. The support for a grocery store at that location was also a major topic in neighborhood association newsletters.

5. Architectural plans were drawn up by Rodney Dionisio, an architect, and at the time a board member of Carrollton/Riverbend Residents’ Assoc., indicating that both a Walgreen’s Drug Store and a grocery store within the square with parking could be achieved. The design was in compliance with the Overlay and was exhibited at

several neighborhood meetings. Walgreen refused the offer of the design because they insisted upon building the store behind the parking lot away from Carrollton Ave.

Note: Was told that there shall be another and perhaps even larger redevelopment in the area of Piccadilly and the Carrollton Shopping Center and perhaps even closer to Earhardt. If the residents allow a variance from the Overlay for Walgreen, it shall set a precedent for a waiver of the Overlay from Claiborne to I-10. Shelley Midura needs to be aware of the possibility of an uglier than ever Carrollton Commercial Strip. This is a complex issue, it involves not only a much needed grocery store, but it also involves the beautification of Carrollton Ave. In the 1960’s, the Lower St. Charles Ave. streetscape became urban blight. It went from beautiful historic mansions and oaks to unsightly commercial buildings set back with concrete parking lots in front. It will take much activism to prevent this from happening to Carrollton Ave.. Please support rebuilding the way that Urban Planners design beautiful cities.

Thanks to Marilyn Barbera..She has worked on this project for too many years to count

No comments: