Tuesday, May 14th the Planning Commission and pharmacy giant CVS revealed their formula retail remodel plans for the former Tower Records/Market & Noe (2280 Market Street) space and frankly they’re really dull.
As proposed, four of the Market and Noe Center’s protruding concrete bays will be removed and CVS’s section of 2280 Market Street’s concrete façade will be overlayed with cement-board siding, a metal lattice, and metal trim.
What is even more confusing is how CVS made it through the approval gauntlet while fellow formula retailer, Starbucks, did not. Earlier in the week the SF Planning Commission nixed the proposed Mega-Bux at the corner of Sanchez and Market St. citing three specific problems.
- Over 20% saturation of formula retail stores within 300 feet of the proposed local.
- Style and design of the new Starbucks would be too dominant at such a visible spot.
- The particular area was already well served by businesses offering the same services.
Comparing the reasoning that shoots down Starbucks while giving CVS the thumb’s up is a bit confounding.
Under new rules set for by the Commission and supported by Dist. 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the number of formulaic retail stores can not exceed 20% of the businesses within a 300 feet span in any given area. The Market St. Walgreens falls just outside that radius at approximately 400 feet away from the proposed new CVS. Also out of consideration is the reality of the total seven pharmacies within a half mile of CVS each providing the same exact service for meds and three providing same goods.
Undaunted by these truths the Planning Commission states CVS would, “provide an additional choice of pharmacy and basic everyday needs goods for neighborhood residents, resulting in prices that are more competitive and a greater availability of goods and services.”
Pardon me wha..?
As we noted earlier when denying Starbucks approval the same Commission stated, “The Upper Market NCT is already well served by existing similar eating and drinking establishments that are considered coffee houses like Peets, Church St. Cafe, Cafe Flore, and Sweet Inspiration.” Are we not equally well served in our seven other pharmacies choices that carry basic everyday needs as well?
Then there’s the CVS store design. Starbucks proposal for their new space-though unwanted by the community-was sleek, inviting and modern. It was rejected as the design was dominate and at odds with other nearby buildings destroying the neighborhood character of other local retailers.
CVS’s rebuild plans removes the clock, the already utilitarian building’s lone interesting architectural quality from the tower, and transforms it into a metal and cement box evocative of an East Berlin, cold war era, prison complex. What about that design is in keeping with the aesthetic of the area like Cafe Flore’s funky feel two doors away?
Is anyone else confused?
We have covered the debate and been opposed to Starbucks fourth insertion into the Castro since we started the Biscuit. We’re equally unimpressed with CVS’s arrival and the lack of fight from the neighborhood to keep it out. The Trader Joe’s that was proposed in 2011 would’ve been a better fit for the community in that space but they withdrew after a onslought of local biz cried foul-including the DTNA. Trader Joe’s also realized they’d never have enough parking to meet their customers needs and let the struggle for the space go.
It’s an odd juxtaposition to not see organized groups like Merchants of Upper Market Castro or the Castro Community Benefit District let CVS slide into the Castro without the same vigor of objection that was leveled at both Starbucks and Trader Joe’s. Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association who fought tooth and nail to keep Starbucks at bay have reached a compromise with CVS and withdrew all objections.
Where are the petitions, the Facebook pages imploring voices to be raised and Change.org, ‘sign me to stop CVS’ invites? Do we as a community really need an eighth pharmacy to buy toilet paper, condoms and get our prescriptions filled?
As these and other questions go unanswered CVS hopes to acquire the permits quickly, start the remodel and be up and running by February of 2014.