Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nothing "Rite" About It

Two nights ago, Mark McDonald of developer Newton Oldacre McDonald, presented his company's plan for the proposed Rite Aid Pharmacy that will go in place of the former Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ. As expected, the siting of the building is pulled away from the street with a single row of perpendicular parking fronting Charlotte, and a double row of the same along 46th Ave.

Mr. McDonald - in a scene one might expect to see in a Matlock case - physically stepped off the "mediocre" 19 feet that will separate the building from the sidewalk along Charlotte. Trying to make the point that this seemingly short distance was the crux of this silly issue. Concerned neighbors felt this was in no way a compromise and countered with alternative ideas that would pull the building to the street and have it adhere to the established infrastructure.

He made it a point to say that he wishes he could find a compromise, but Rite Aid has no intention of budging from the proposed plan. There are plenty of examples (and also here) in other cities where Rite Aid has developed an urban style building that is pulled to the street. Mr. McDonald claims that in order to build such a building, the proposed site needs to be surrounded by enough residential density within reasonable walking distance (.5 mile round trip). He makes a good point and goes on to say that this may not be the "perfect" first step for the corridor - but it's a "great" first step.

But why not make it the "perfect" first step Rite Aid? We are in the middle of planning for progress on Charlotte that hopes to achieve just such a walkable community. Why would you design a building that deters that lifestyle and only encourages more automobile focused development?

The Specific Plan bill aimed at this property (currently awaiting its second reading) if passed will legally force Rite Aid to build to the desired standards. This bill has two upcoming public hearings (see dates and locations in left hand column under "Important Dates") that are vital to keeping this bill alive.

If you are displeased with Rite Aid's proposed plan, you are strongly encouraged to make your case known at these public hearings. The more support, the better. Be sure to spread the word.

If you would like to write Rite Aid and voice your frustrations over this matter, their Board of Directors can be reached at:

Rite Aid Corporation

c/o Corporate Secretary

P.O. Box 3165

Harrisburg, PA 17105

Or email:

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