Plans for new CVS on hold

Simon Husted

A development group is looking to rebuild the current CVS at the corner of South Water Street and Summit Street, but not before the city planning commission has its input.

Zaremba Group, the pharmacy’s developer, would raze the CVS at 500 S. Water St. and two adjacent buildings on West Summit Street.

The proposed structure, with 3,000 more square feet and a drive-thru, would be set back from the street and feature 36 more parking spaces in the front and side of the building. In addition, the larger location would double its workforce from 20 to 40 employees.

At Tuesday’s planning meeting, commissioners Sean Kaine and Peter Paino criticized various aspects of the project, claiming it had a box store design.

But the biggest problem the planning commission had was the project’s parking lot. The commissioners agreed 60 parking spaces would be excessive and out of place in front of the property.

“It’s a sea of blacktop in the front,” Paino said. “If we had our choices we would like to see the parking toward the rear.”

By the end of the meeting, Jordan Berns, attorney for Zaremba Group, asked the commissioners to table CVS’ site plan review until the July 19 meeting.

“We’re happy to table this until next month’s meeting, revisit some of the concerns that you’ve raised and see what we can do with respect to the building design and the landscape,” Berns said.

Although CVS sits right outside the downtown overlay district, which establishes certain rules developers must obey, both Kaine and Paino criticized the building’s design and suggested the developers relocate the front parking spaces to the back to alleviate traffic and better align the building’s façade with neighboring buildings.

Kaine said he sees the corner lot as an entryway to downtown and the planning commission is required to make certain that the building is harmonious with the surrounding area.

“The building you have now works from a character standpoint,” Kaine said, referring to the current CVS. “It’s up in alignment with the other buildings on the street.”

Mary Ann Wervey, regional director of retail development at Zaremba Group, said the fix would not be a simple one.

CVS Caremark Corporation has an ideal outline on how its stores are built. Wervey said because the CVS in Kent had no special rules attached, the company expected an ideal model store built. Changing anything about the parking setup could mean losing the project in its entirety, she added.

“Quite frankly — to tell you the truth — to get some additional features on the building would be more probable than eliminating that middle row (of parking) and moving the site up,” Wervey said.

Kent’s Architectural Advisory Review Board had previously approved the design with a vote of 4 to 1.

If approved, construction is anticipated to begin in Spring 2012. During the six months of construction, customers would be able to order and pick-up prescriptions at a nearby pharmacy trailer.

Contact Summer Kent Stater reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].