City, Neighbors Have Big Problems With Drug Mart Progress

There were two-dozen violations of the city’s building code found at the house adjacent to the new drug store’s property on Grace Avenue.

As part of the conditional use permit for the new Discount Drug Mart, the drugstore chain agreed to renovate the home at 1425 Grace Avenue, instead of demolishing it.

However, neighbors, city officials and the city’s planning commission aren’t satisfied with the progress. 

Last month, the city’s building department inspected the home — commonly referred to as “the white house” — and found 24 code violations, ranging from plumbing to general exterior maintenance issues.

The planning commission revisited Drug Mart’s conditional use permit on Thursday night.

Mary Louise Madigan, the city’s Ward 4 councilwoman, shared her concerns on behalf of the neighbors.

“This isn’t that difficult,” she said, referring to the renovation that the company agreed it would do. “It’s not a lot to ask for, especially with what everyone has been going through.

“The residents just want a clear timeline.”

The planning commission voted — after an hour-and-a-half of discussion and comments from neighbors — to give Drug Mart two months to come back with a clear timeline of when the house will be completed and the progress of the renovation. 

If the terms aren't met, the commission could revoke the drugstore’s conditional use permit for accessory parking.

Drug Mart officials contend that the company has been in negotiations with a proposed buyer of the property, while the construction of the new store at 13123 Detroit Avenue wraps up.

“We understand that as Discount Drug Mart, we have a responsibility to make sure that it gets done,” said Tom McConnell, the CEO and president of Discount Drug Mart. “We’re not trying not to flip the house.”

“You’re still obligated to the city to make sure is no code violations,” said planning commission member Robert Greytak.

“Absolutely,” replied McConnell. 

“The wintertime is not the time to work on a house,” he added. “It’s not what we do. A little more patience… I’d be glad to come back to the commission. I think we’ve shown in the last six months that we keep our commitments.”

Commission members pointed to McConnell’s presentation in August when he promised a renovated home.

“I have to tell you that your tone is quite a bit different than it was in August,” said Greytak, noting McConnell’s “mundane attitude.”

One by one, neighbors shared their views about the drug store’s progress.

“We do need Drug Mart to be accountable,” said one neighbor, who lives a couple doors down from the home. “Drug Mart hasn’t lived up to its promises."

She said construction vehicles still rumble up and down the streets, despite agreements that they wouldn't. Also, she said, work crews commonly begin before the 8 a.m. time that had been agreed upon.

“You,” she told the planning commission, “are our hope for accountability.”

Brandon Scullion April 05, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Did he really say you can't work on a house in the winter??? I would be glad to show him the photos of the forclosed property that I bought in December and completely renovated and move in ready by April. What a clown.
william crosby April 05, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Drug Mart does crap work. Look at the condition of the so-called renovated store .... horrible. They lost my business.
m.z.1 April 05, 2013 at 01:17 PM
Lakewood people love to complain. Ain't no honey in Lakewood.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward April 05, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I'm a Lakewoodite. I know people are complaining about the progress but did they even SEE how far they've come? I see NOTHING wrong. People just want to complain because they didn't want the Drug Mart there in the first place. I bet the majority of those people are the ones complaining. News flash--it takes a while to build buildings like Drug Mart and Family Dollar. Duh.
ian king April 05, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Hi Christina, Totally agree with your comments. There has been nothing but resistance to the new Drug Mart from the area neighbors since the idea was first proposed. I am sure they will continue to find something wrong for years! It amazes me that they feel so inconvenient with the noise, etc. I guess they have had a priveleged life in their hood before Drug Mart came. Who does not hear train whistles at 5 am in Lakewood, who does not hear car alarms at 2am in Lakewood - and how about bus noise on Detroit, car horns on Detroit, etc. I guess this was a little oasis of silence before reality came to their block.
ian king April 05, 2013 at 05:48 PM
Perhaps that is why so many storefronts are empty for years in Lakewood? and so many empty lots in Lakewood? and now, apartment buildings all over Edgewater and Clifton in disrepair, and really looking rundown. And lets not talk about block after block of foreclosed houses, rundown yards, and dirty sidewalks! Gee, I guess Lakewood still thinks it is a desirable suburb for business and residents? WAKE UP Lakewood - almost everyone I know - people with jobs and good incomes - have left or are planning to leave and move further west to Rocky River or Bay Village or Westlake. The ship is almost leaving Lakewood, yet residents like these by Drug Mart will do anything to prevent new businesses and new tax dollars coming into town. And lets not get started about the well known reality that Lakewood City Officials are not that business friendly. Lets hope they don't scare Bob Evans out of town, but at this point, they probably already have. Just remember all of this when you home owners get yet another tax increase with the school levy - add that on top of already high taxes on your earned income - and for the joy of living in a clearly rundown, Rust Belt city that has seen better days. Gosh, make I should think about putting the house on the marker - oh, I forgot, property values are way down in Lakewood too! Who would have guessed! LOL
Brandon Scullion April 05, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Just felt like I should add this as I never want to be compared to those who complain about everything. I'm not complaining about Drug Mart or it's construction. I am however shocked that someone dealing with construction would say they can't do much in the winter.
m.z.1 April 05, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Sometimes when people complain too much about really unimportant things it really points to their personal core beliefs and their value systems. If Lakewoodites continue down this path, no one will want to be or live here. I'd like to inform these people that there are many families praying for the safe return of loved ones serving our country, and beyond our own selfish wants there are millions of people dying everyday due to lack of clean water. I for one, am quite tired of what I will call the "Heideloff Effect" Get over yourselves.
ian king April 05, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Spot on! The Heideloff fiasco was soooo embarassing on both a local and national level. My friends in true Historic Preservation work couldn't believe it got as far as it did for such an ordinary house. Having been fortunate to live in many different parts of the country, and now NE Ohio, after several years here it still amazes me how reluctant so many residents of this area are to embrace any kind of economic stimulus. This area is not in a position to be choosy or set demands, or like these neighbors, whine about such silliness as urban noise, and some minor inconveniences about dirty roadways. Bizarre! I agree with your comment about developing a wider view of the world. Heck, how about being thankful that any business wants to build brand new in Lakewood - that to me is a miracle in today's economic climate!
The original Bill April 05, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Ian if you drive by the site of the planned Bob Evans you will see some preliminary site prep going on right now so I doubt they "scared them out of town" and as far as your assertion that Lakewood has "already high taxes on earned income," Lakewood is just about middle of the road with the income tax rate of 1.5%. Try moving to Parma Hts and paying their 3%. The fact of the matter is the majority of communities in our area charge residents 2% on their income. As far as real estate taxes go, when I first moved into Lakewood many years ago I knew coming in that with a lack of a commercial tax base homeowners bear a greater burden in supporting our schools. Maybe you should have done some research.
ian king April 05, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Hey Original Bill - My point is that Lakewood has a declining population and also, as a city, it is becoming poorer = meaning less income tax to create city revenue. As you rightly state, the commercial tax base continues to erode. Sooo, I am not sure why you miss my point - the only solution city officials seem to have is to continue to raise both residential property and personal income taxes to meet city expenses. This cannot continue or more folks who earn an income will leave an aging, crime increasing city. Take a walk around town and it isn't pretty in a lot of Lakewood. I think anyone who moved to Lakewood pre-2007 saw a very different future for the city. Housing prices were good, a lot more businesses were around, and employment was stable. I don't think doing research would have predicted the Lakewood of 2013 = declining housing values, high unemployment, empty storefronts. Unless you have a crystal ball Bill, Lakewood was a lot more attractive a place to make a home 6 years ago then it is today. Also, not sure where you got your tax numbers, but on the Cuyahoga County (CC) web page this is what I found: Residential tax rates in CC as a % of market in CC: Lakewood - 2.96% Cleveland - 2.74% Rocky River - 2.56% Westlake - 2.08% Bay Village - 2.79% Parma - 2.47% Brooklyn - 2.12% Fairview Park - 2.85% North Olmsted - 2.81% So, at least Lakewood remains # 1 in something = highest income taxes!
The original Bill April 06, 2013 at 01:12 AM
Residential income tax tax rate for Lakewood is 1.5% with a 50% credit for taxes paid to other communities. I work in Cleveland where 2% is taken out of my paycheck. Come April 15th I am on the hook to Lakewood for 1%. I have no idea where you pulled that 2.96% figure from but I hope you wiped afterwards. Also please give me some proof where the income taxes are going up.
ian king April 06, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Hi Original Bill - always love it when so many in Rust Belt NE Ohio feel that when they are losing the public discourse with their limited data/provincial thinking - that they then choose to bully attack the other, via personal/inappropriate references that have nothing to do with moving the discussion forward - sooo sad and childish I think. (I now understand why Joe the Plumber was so popular here!) Anyway, in the goal of enlightment, please visit the cuyahogacounty.us web site and you will find residential tax rate comparisons. These comparisons are percentages, not actual tax rate that you quoted. Here is the page from their website: Community Tax Rates Valid 12/2012 - 11/2013 Please note - The tax rates and levy information displayed in this section are for Tax Year 2012/Pay 2013. 2012 Residential Comparative Rate Chart Enjoy! And please, can we rise above the bullying/personal attacking on this blog?
The original Bill April 06, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Why are you continually harping on the real estate tax? Lakewood has ALWAYS been at or near the top in that category. Now answer my question. Where is the proof that Lakewood has "already high taxes on your earned income" and is raising personal income taxes?
xv April 06, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Ian why don't you just move from this horrible city of Lakewood so we don't have to listen to you any more.
The original Bill April 06, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I'm still waiting for Ian to show proof that Lakewood is raising their "already high taxes on your earned income" and to prove that income taxes in Lakewood are higher than anywhere else
ian king April 06, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Hi Peter - hmmm............."listen to me anymore"? well, i suppose i could live with that............as long as you "READ ME some more!" LOL
theresa caruso April 07, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Barbara Greene April 07, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Drug Mart accountable? That's funny.


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