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1998-08-25
Bethlehem, PA. Grossly Unattractive CVS.

"I hate this," admitted Bethlehem City Councilwoman Magdalena Szabo. "It's grossly unattractive and serves no purpose." That's a pretty good definition of the CVS convenience store that a developer is pushing on the South Side of Bethlehem at 4th. and Broadway. On August 17, the city's Planning Commission "reluctantly" approved plans for CVS to tear down 7 existing 100 year old buildings , which the developer says have no historic value. "We have a sense of your frustration," the Planning Board Chairman told residents opposed to the project. "I hope you have a sense of ours." Officials held their nose and voted to permit CVS, the nation's "top chain drug retailer based on store count" to build a one story 10,111 s.f building with an 80 feet set back from the sidewalk in a neighborhood that says its historic character is being destroyed by such suburban mall architecture. CVS will blacktop space for 41 cars, and have a drive-through. The old hardware store will be torn down, a barber shop, several apartments, a rooming house, and the former police station -- all to add another convenience store to an area already choking on convenience stores. The developer, Posh Construction, met with city officials to discuss design changes, but refused to alter the basic building design and setback. "CVS won't let us put the building on the roadside," Posh told reporters." Project architects said the design was a "standard to be used in all CVS developments, and could not be altered." Residents attended hearings and picketed the site location, but the city pressed forward, saying there was nothing they could do to stop the project. "CVS comes only on the expensive gamble that they can force our local pharmacies out of business," said resident Nancy Tate. "We don't need another large swath of land covered with pavement." One South Side Community leader put it this way: "They've designed a suburban building to serve the motorist. What that neighborhood calls for is a building designed to serve the pedestrian." Developer Joe Posh described his property this way: "It's a mishmosh of 100 year old buildings and commercial buildings...I don't know what all the fuss is about. Those buildings really aren't that great looking now." The tenants and businesses leasing the properties have all received eviction notices. "We don't think South Side Bethlehem should become another target of the drugstore wars," said Tate. CVS, which tells developers it "requires pylon sign identity" as part of its new store location criteria, wants free standing sites with drive through capability and parking for 40 to 60 vehicles. After three hours of debate, the Planning Board agreed to let CVS bring their baby to Bethlehem, saying they had no choice. Mayor Don Cunningham tried to talk to CVS executives to get them to modify their plan. "In pretty emphatic terms," the Mayor said, "he told me that CVS was not willing to do that." Residents are considering an appeal of the Planning Commission's "reluctant" decision to the Northampton County Court.

What you can do: Let CVS know how you feel about their "my way or the highway" attitude displayed in Bethlehem. Write to: CVS Real Estate Department, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket, RI 02895, or call them at 401-765-1500 x. 4310. Tell CVS that what they are doing in Bethlehem in tearing down 7 historic buildings to put up one more unit is an embarassment to the entire "Consumer Value Store" concept. This new store bring no value to any consumer. The least they could have done is bring their store up to the sidewalk.










 
 
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