Letter to Editor--CVS comments
I’d like to respond to Liana Cawley’s letter to the editor about my article, “From Steeples And Stained Glass To CVS." While I am amused by her opinion that it was “pure Pollyanna” suggesting some naive, I must correct some of the interpretations regarding the article.
I made no opinion in my article as to my perspective, hence the reason it was published under Lakewood City News. The article was a report of the specific details of the CVS project as presented by the developer’s representative and it was a report of issues block clubs presented at a meeting concerning the CVS project. Nowhere did I suggest that readers not be concerned about the CVS project. The simple statement of the facts of the project was just that, facts--those elements that allowed residents to base sound decisions on. I also never used the term, "Superstore." The meeting included nostalgic moments which I included as part of the article. As for homes lost, the Zaremba representative assured the group that no homes would be lost, which has been important to Lakewood residents. When a business leases, sale of a property can induce a business having to move, and whether it is CVS or a mixed-use development, it may have not made any difference.
The concerns that she brings up about “an old church and a block of storefronts will be knocked down to make room for a “New Superstore!” and “tearing down another block of mixed-use architecture that is part of what makes downtown Lakewood unique” is not new to the debate of redevelopment. While we can dream of what Lakewood should be, the reality is what we can make of it with the resources we have. The fate of the Lutheran Church was decided the day the For Sale sign went up. Churches are finding that they must reduce to become sustainable. The property owner has the right to sell their property to whomever they choose. The City’s role is to assure that new development complies with current zoning and architecture requirements. Neighboring streets were invited to come and see the project as well as voice their concerns.
Whether a mixed-use purposing of that block would have been better is questionable in today’s economy. We may have ample supply of office space, storefronts and housing that do not require new construction. Whether a restaurant would have been good for that area depends. There are restaurants in our city who are struggling. Why don’t we support those first so they can succeed? When gasoline hits $4 a gallon, people cut discretionary spending. It's a tougher business climate to start a restaurant in. Some buildings are viable for renovations and some not. The benefits to our city for this development include a potential increase in revenues since the larger portion of the property is now a taxable entity versus a church non-profit status. A revenue increase is good at any time, but especially to help with recently announced State budget cuts.
CVS has been in the Downtown area for years. In our meeting, residents expressed their concern about it being like the one on W117th. The response was no—for reasons that include that it will not be open 24 hours and the architecture is different—architecture that has been approved by the City of Lakewood’s Architecture Board of Review. Ms. Cawley sited that the building on the southeast corner of Warren and Detroit was the type of buildings we need in Downtown and pointed it out as a “done right” renovation. My perspective is that is a big building.
I would encourage any resident of Lakewood to follow through on your questions concerning the CVS project to any of your ward council people. Better advocacy for Lakewood means knowing the elements of the choices we need to make. Debate the issues if you will but get the facts first!
Look time resident of Lakewood. Ind. Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Past President Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.