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Friday, June 30, 2006

What a difference some blight makes.....

This past May, FIA invited newly-inaugurated District A City Councilman Jay Batt to our General Membership Meeting, to discuss Walgreens planned re-development of the northwest corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne Avenues.

In his campaign speeches,then-candidate Batt made a bold promise of bringing not one
but two or three grocery stores to the lower Carrollton area. This Walgreens site
plays heavily in the ongoing grocery store debate, as it is one of the few ommercial sites along South Carrollton Avenue capable of handling anything more than the smallest neighborhood store.

For over two years, members of several neighborhood groups in the Carrollton area have met with City planners, former District A Councilman Scott Shea and other municipal leaders, to monitor and critique Walgreens design and development plans, hoping to ensure that Walgreens plans for the busy corner were compatible with the
historical and residential character of our neighborhood.

At the request of FIA representatives and others, Councilman Shea deferred
any City Council action on Walgreens proposed plan, to allow additional inquiry into the matter, and to allow his successor Batt time to broker a compromise between the increasingly opposing factions. Batt never shied away from the fact that his primary
objective was simply to ensure that the Walgreens plan included a grocery store. But many residents had additional concerns, and were willing to forego the opportunity to make groceries just down the corner, if it meant compromising on the City
Carrollton Overlay design restrictions.

Briefly stated, Walgreens proposed plan began with demolishing the existing commercial building that once housed a K&B Drugstore and a Canal/Villere grocery store. But in addition, Walgreens planned to acquire and raze the entire city block, including, most notably, the fire station at the corner of Carrollton and Nelson.
In its place, Walgreens proposed a new commercial center that, in the eyes
of many residents, was poorly situated on and simply too large for the site. Many residents also opposed the relocation of the fire station to an unidentified site on the lake side of Earhart Boulevard.

Another key objection expressed to the Walgreens plan was the lack of certainty that a grocery store the second phase of a two-phase development would ever be built. As
proposed by Walgreens, the former K&B/Canal Villere building would be demolished immediately, making room for the quick construction of the new Walgreens store.

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