26 June 2006

South Claiborne/South Carrollton Intersection Redevelopment Town Hall Meeting: 28 June 2006, 7pm at City Hall

Current proposed Walgreen's site plan with offsite Robert's "pad" (they are separate projects) before the New Orleans City Council. No label on the site plan marks the terminus of the St. Charles Streetcar Line a few hundred feet away from the main entrance to the store. I guess the engineering firm in Pensacola that put it together was unaware of the proximity to one of the main modes of transportation potential consumers would utilize to get to the store. Way to do that site inventory guys and way to show absolutely no sensitivity towards the site. That would be Design 101. Bravo.

Just received a bulk City Council District A email with an attached flyer from Shelley Midura's Chief of Staff Alex Morgan. A web-accessible version can be seen here.

From the flyer: The Council will vote on issues related to the building of a Robert's Fresh Foods grocery store and Walgreen's Drugstore on the corner of Carrollton & Claiborne this Thursday.

The "issues" refer to a needed zoning variance to allow Walgreen's to place a parking lot between the proposed building and the intersection. The current zoning law at that location does not allow such a "setback" site plan more suitable for suburban locations than inner city ones. This corner has such significance as a major intersection in the city and also as the terminus to the St. Charles Streetcar Line that the urban fabric must be preserved. From an urban planning design standpoint, it is a no brainer not to allow the as is proposal. An "urban" design solution needs to be found--not a suburban "plop and drop" one from Walgreen's Autocad Template #21. Granting this variance would be a major mistake which could potentially foster a dangerous precedence on South Carrollton and other major thoroughfares throughout the highly urban "old" areas (non-New Orleans East/Lower Algiers) of the City of New Orleans. South Carrollton Avenue from this intersection to the Pontchartrain Expressway has already been sacrificed to the suburban drive thru worshipping gods because of the acceptance by the city of construction in the 1970s and 1980s ane even 1990's in no way suitable for such a delicate, urban environment. In this day and age where New Orleans fights for it's continued existence, we cannot knowingly repeat such a mistake.

It is critical that the City Council and Our Mayor (tm) understand the majority of residents in the adjacent neighborhoods of Carrollton, Broadmoor, Fountainbleau, Gert Town, and Hollygrove are adamantly opposed to this proposed design and that the law in place must not be allowed to ammended for Walgreen's insensitive "maximized sight line," car-based proposal. Personally, I have no interest in a new Walgreen's at that location given the proliferation of drug stores throughout the city. Additionally, Walgreen's (along with Mr. Robert and his Robert Fresh Foods) already has an indifferent history of littering our city with abandoned stores (Canal Street/Jefferson Davis Parkway and South Carrollton/Earhart Boulevard). Both of these entities has done nothing to remotely deserve any concessions. Also, Carrollton residents are in the position of no grocery store in the first place because of . . . . Walgreen's--when they swept the lease away from the Riverbend Shopping Center Winn Dixie back in 1997 or 1998 by offering the building's owner substantially more money. Yet another reason to not give one inch to them.

The priority is a grocery store. Period. If its got to be Robert Fresh Foods, then so be it. The real world reality is that Walgreen's owns or is in legal contract to own/lease the commercially-zoned property giving them the right to build a store on the site. I recognize this. However, the City of New Orleans and it's citizens make the rules, not Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen's (phone number 847/940.2500). If we are stuck with yet another scar in the 50+ year old "Uptown Drug Store Wars," it should at least be built following the law and beyond. No half-assed compromises. Please make every effort to attend the town hall meeting this Wednesday or minimally send an email to Mrs. Midura to voice your opinion on this proposal. WE, the citizens decide OUR future . Ask Jay Batt.

When: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 7pm.
Where: New Orleans City Hall, City Council Chambers, 1300 Perdido Street.

This has already been a bad few days with the Coliseum Square Baptist Church debacle courtesy of J.T. Curtis and GIOE's Truck Hauling and Demolition and our apparently inept, city government. Where was HDLC in this?????? Lets see if our city government can not mishandle this affair. The future of the City of New Orleans depends on it. Still more to come on this past Saturday's fun, by the way . . . .

UPDATE, 27 JUNE 2006: I attended the MCNO meeting last night and had an interesting conversation with a very good source regarding the Walgreen's proposal. Long story short--apparently there is a good possibility the Fountainbleau neighborhood group is going to come out in favor of the granting the zoning variance. Their logic: they just desire something, anything, to happen with that property. Hey guys, this is exactly what Walgreen's wants, was their strategy, and is the reason they've let the exisitng buildings sit there and rot for the past severn years so eventaully the city and the neighborhood groups would be begging them to just do something regardless of any laws on the books. Please don't fall victim to their trap. Force them to follow the law, minimally.

Previous TBNO posts on this particular subject can be seen here and here.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Walgreens, Shelley Midura, Carrollton, Urban Planning


At June 26, 2006 10:19 PM, Blogger LisaPal said...

Distance between Carrollton & Claiborne proposed Walgreen's site and:
1)Walgreen's at Carrollton & Earhart- approx. .4 miles
2) Walgreen's at Riverbend- approx. 1.1 miles
3) Walgreen's at Claiborne & Napoleon- approx. 1.6 miles.

Yep. Another Walgreen's is exactly what we need.

I've been begging Trader Joe's to open a store in New Orleans on Carrollton & Claiborne since Canal Villere closed. It would have been a goldmine for them given the area's demographics and it would have given Whole Food some competition. But TJ's doesn't take requests.

At June 27, 2006 7:11 AM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...


Ya, Trader Joe's would be a perfect fit . . . .


At June 27, 2006 10:07 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

TJ's will never open in that location in a million years. It's the demographics--which judging by my walkaround there a couple weeks ago, aren't the best. Nice mobile burrito truck in the parking lot of the Canal Villere though.

We can't even get them to open in DC, in areas with $60K+ HH income and 80,000 HHs within 1.5 miles. But they'll open in the suburbs.

I know this is a stretch, but try to get Sunflower Markets (the new Supervalu concept). I've written about it in my blog. They have one in Indianapolis, and one coming in Columbus. It's a perfectly sized store for urban areas.

More importantly, except that they are likely broke, somehow leverage the relatively nearby Tulane along the lines of what Penn is doing in University City in Philadelphia.

At June 28, 2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...

Did you read what I wrote???

I said they have the right to build it--JUST FOLLOW THE LAW.

At June 28, 2006 1:09 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...

The current design DOES NOT follow the current law as dictated in the overlay zone. Therefore, they require a zoning variance to be build what they propose how they propose to be made a legalized exception to the exisitng law. Is this what you have been told???

This isn't rocket science . . .

And there you go with the "you people" again. We are all Orleanians, are we not???? Just have to break things down to the us and them . . .

At June 28, 2006 2:17 PM, Blogger Hollis P. Wood said...

Here it is in layman's terms.............We don't want Carrllton Ave. to look like Veterans Blvd. Period.

At June 28, 2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure Gatsby was rolling around on the floor of his office,{probably while patients waited}when he wrote the Wagners Meat post. Too bad that what we will probably end up with is a half developed site with blight in the back, in addition to the garbage they will pile up..Walgreens is not a nice Neighbor..It is a voracious chain that uses and discards..If it takes a fight to make them do it right then why not fight..By the way I live behind the future Walgreens parking lot..Guess what Gatsby even we po folk got taste..The people of Newcomb Blvd have suffered enough according to you, well so have we

At June 28, 2006 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uptown Gatsby - I'm also a physician but also know the MANY mistakes Walgreens makes in filling prescriptions & don't bother to call to verify what was written if there is a question about it. You must be one great doctor - I hope you have great malpractice insurance coverage because you need it!

At June 29, 2006 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Uptown Gatsby - My colleagues & I also write our Rx's legibly and have great relationships with the Pharmacists & Clerks @ reputable establishments! We value the work & hours put in by everyone who works in these pharmacies just as they take pride in their work! You are the reason physicians are viewed as thinking they are more important than everyone else unlike those who actually value their patients as people - not just dollar signs!

At June 29, 2006 1:35 PM, Blogger John Blutarsky said...

Uptown Gatsby,

Let's review this ignorant statement that you posted:

"I'm amazed that you people evacuated for Katrina and came back thinking that you can dictate that the City restrict the development of private land by telling the land owner what should be there."

What you're talking about here is called Zoning. And yes, Zoning is designed to restrict buildings and land use to specific areas, but this is done for a good purpose. Without the city's zoning laws and architectural review boards, anyone could build anything anywhere. This means that your neighbor on Audubon Blvd could build a 20 story highrise apartment complex on his land. Or he could decide to build the dreaded Chicken Box with a drive through right next to your bedroom window!

Grant it, these are extreme cases but you get the idea. It is our right and duty as citizens of this city voice our discontet when a company tries to skirt around the current Zoning laws. If Jefferson Parish residents cared as much about these issues as New Orleaneans they might have an aesthitic and unique mesh of communities instead of the endless strip mall chain nightmare that it currently is.

Also it is our duty to debate whether Walgreens has earned our respect to build yet another drug store so close to where it already has abandoned a building. If we keep letting Walgreens tear down houses and build drug stores only to abandon them a few years later, then where's the sense in that?

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