Monday, November 24, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: Nov. 23, 2008

Future Bham Center without CVS but with Glebe Market…say again?

CVS might, just might, pull out of the Buckingham Shopping Center redevelopment project if they cannot get a drive-thru prescription window, and Do Chon, the son of retiring Glebe Market owner Sam Chon, might run a scaled-down Glebe Market in the new development afterall, all this according to Bob Moore, a principal at Georgetown Strategic Capital the developer working on the site.

If all of this came to be, it would be a rather large shift in the plans for the west side of N. Glebe Road at N. Pershing Drive where the Glebe Market and CVS buildings sit.

For the year or so that these plans have been public, Georgetown Strategic has said they had committments from (and included in the plans) all the businesses west of Glebe—the CVS, ElPaso Café, Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, Woofs Dog Training, and the Ravi Kabob—except for the Glebe Market which would close as Sam Chon, the owner, planned to retire. CVS would move across Pershing Drive once the new building was built.

I was on the phone with Mr. Moore because he had been scheduled to speak at the Buckingham Community Civic Association meeting last Monday, and I was curious to know why he wasn’t there (I don’t know that I ever got an answer). Our conversation quickly shifted to what’s at issue:

Drawing courtesy Georgetown Strategic; illustration Thurston (Click to enlarge the image.)

The county’s transportation and planning staff cannot support the prescription drop-off, drive-thru window that Mr. Moore said is a linchpin for CVS’s move across Pershing Drive. CVS, he said, puts these in all their suburban stores, and they consider this one “suburban.” No drive-thru, no CVS in the new building.

Earlier plans for the building had the window close to Glebe Road, but the architects have moved the window about five car-lengths away from the road. The idea of this window is that drivers pull in and drop off prescriptions on the way somewhere else. Mr. Moore said that CVS reports never having more than six cars in the lane.

Still, no dice from the county.

“We could just see that this wasn’t going to happen,” Mr. Moore said.

So he has been making the rounds to civic groups trying to drum-up support for the new drive-thru location. (He said he did make it to Ashton Heights Civic Association meeting recently.)

If CVS decides not to move across the street into the new building, they will simply stay in their current building for five years (they just signed a five-year extension to their lease), Mr. Moore said. Georgetown Strategic will wait them out, offering them space in the building that will replace the current CVS building. If they do not want space in that building, they just will not be part of a redeveloped Buckingham Shopping Center.

On another note, part of the plan for the shopping center was that Do Chon might open a coffee shop in the building that will replace the CVS, but now, Mr. Moore admitted, his company is talking to the father and sone about a small grocery store.

What if all the plans fall through?

“We’re not worried at all about the retail,” Mr. Moore said, adding that leases are plentiful.

Landscaping at issue at BCCA meeting...

Speaking of Georgetown Strategic and the BCCA, the group, with about seven members present, voted to write a letter to the county asking that they not allow Georgetown Strategic to move landscaping to the second floor gardens.

The developer has asked that the county rules be bent to allow them to move some of what should be street-level landscaping onto the second floor of the proposed building on the northwest corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Pershing Drive.

BCCA member Bernie Berne's winning argument to the group said that this allowed the developer to make a really nice garden for the residents who will inhabit upper floors of the building, but the neighborhood residents will have little or no landscaping (there are trees planned for the sidewalks along N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road).

For his part, Mr. Moore said in an interview, "Whatever it is [that is built], it's going to look a whole lot better than it is now." He has long maintained that his company plans to improve landscaping on all four corners of the intersection.

UCC Would Like You to Join Them...

(Click to enlarge the image.)

One final note from the BCCA meeting. Donna Zadnik, from Bethel United Church of Christ, asked if I would be willing to place a flyer of their church on my web site. They are a non-profit on the corner of Arlington Boulevard and N. George Mason Drive, so what the heck? There you go, Donna.

By the way, I have seen their game night flyers on a number of occasions, and have wanted to go. Maybe I just will.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Telesis' Planning for BV3 Called "Very Responsive."
  • Letter: Hokies Not Planning Mini-Golf Site
  • Police Notes for the Area
  • Labels: ,

    Drive thru windows have always been a source of contention in development plans in the county. At the current Rite-Aid on Columbia Pike (catty-corner from Cinema & Drafthouse), the owner made significant concessions to receive its drive-thru prescription window several years ago. One concession was the park in front of the Rite-Aid on Columbia Pike. But the funny thing is, the drive-thru is *not even used* anymore. I don't know why; but that's how it's turned out.
    CVS sounds like it's being short-sited. It may consider Buckingham a "suburban" location, but the reality is that most of the people in the neigborhood probably don't want or need a drive-thru window. I never saw anyone use the one at the old CVS at 10th and Washington Blvd.

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