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Drug Mart Proposal ‘Back to the Drawing Board’

New, “bland” architectural renderings presented to the city’s architectural board of review.

It’s "back the drawing board" for the developers of a proposed $3 million facelift to Lakewood Plaza — better known as Plaza — on Detroit Avenue.

On Thursday, David Berkovitz, the director of project management and construction for Levey and Company, presented new plans to the city’s architectural board of review.

The board wasn’t impressed.

In a departure from the original plan, the new Drug Mart Plaza renderings show a structure lacking the architectural design that city officials had hoped for. 

The towers are gone. The landscaping changed. The buildings have the same height with few differentiating features. 

Several board members said the new plan looks like a “strip mall” in outer suburbia.

“It reads now like any strip shopping center,” said board member Michael Fleenor, adding that he’s disappointed with the lack of texture. “I’d like to see more windows. I think that would make it less like a suburban strip center.” 

One of the reasons behind the changed plans, Berkovitz said, was that a gas line underneath the sidewalk prevents extending the front of the building farther out toward the street.

"It looks like we're back to the drawing board," said board member Carl Orban.

Levey and Company only recently took over the property from the previous owners, Giltz and Associates.

Officials from the city and from developer Levey and Company met .

“We’re in a position where we need to start moving forward,” said Berkovitz, adding that he understands the concerns by the board. 

Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, called the new plans “bland,” lacking the character of the original proposal.

 “They have a lot of work to do to give us something that’s approvable,” he said. “We’re happy to have development in Lakewood, but it has to be development that fits the Lakewood architectural context.”

An extensive renovation — already under way in the back of the building — was expected to wrap up by next summer.

 will be the anchor tenant in the new space — and will expand it size by 30 percent, moving into some of the space formerly occupied by the Sakura Japanese Restaurant.

Berkowitz said the developers are trying to market the project to be friendly to “outdoor dining” and noted that another developer is in the works of signing a new restaurant to the project — in addition to the Quaker Steak and Lube that signed on earlier this year. 

The plaza will also retain  and RadioShack.

The board is set to review the revised drawing at its next meeting in January.

Michele December 10, 2011 at 12:02 AM
What is stopping the original design plans? It gave a mini "Crocker Park" look to everything. We are the walkable city, why not extend the building further back on the gigantic parking lot area and an "L" shaped building is not far out of the question. We need to revitalize the building, not make it look EXACTLY like it does now, just with newer bricks. Will be staying tuned into this development, its a prime location to make some magic happen!

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