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New Discount Drug Mart Approved on Detroit Avenue

The meeting lasted nearly five hours, but the drug store chain was granted its appeal, and then the new proposal was approved.

After , new plans for a on Detroit Avenue were submitted to the for a rehearing.

After the rehearing was granted Thursday, the new plans were approved after a nearly five-hour marathon meeting at city hall.

With the commission’s OK, the drug store chain will demolish the apartment building that it owns adjacent to the property, but the space won't be used for parking, according to the revised proposal.

The new plan is scaled down to 72 parking spaces — down from 94 originally proposed. 

In addition, Drug Mart pulled its request to take the 13.5 feet from the neighboring home at 1425 Grace Avenue, but the company will take a portion of the northwest corner of that property. 

The plan also includes a 15-feet-wide sidewalk along Cohasset Avenue. The original plans called for a sidewalk that was only 10 feet wide.

With a 5-1 vote, the commission approved a lot-split and consolidation, and unanimously OK’d a conditional-use permit for accessory parking as well as a permit for a drive-thru.

Commission member Ruth Gillett voted against the lot consolidation, as well as Discount Drug Mart’s request for a rehearing.

Kurt Schmitz of Lakewood-based went through the city’s zoning code — item-by-item — outlining why the $5 million project was positive for the city.

He also presented a slideshow hoping to address some of the neighbors’ concerns.

“This is a good project for Lakewood, and it’s a good project for Grace and Cohassett,” he said.

Not all the neighbors agreed.

Many of them still opposed the project — even with the revisions.

Cathy Birt, a resident of Grace Avenue, said she’s opposed the project from the beginning.

“I don’t want it at all,” she said. “It’s just not good for the street. I realized when I moved to Lakewood 24 years ago that it doesn’t really matter if you live on the West End or the East End. It really matters what street you live on, and Grace, Cohassett and Clarence are nice streets. We’ve all worked really hard to keep our homes nice, and I think it will all go away.”

When the meeting ended just past 11:30 p.m., there were still about 40 people in the audience in the crowded Lakewood City Auditorium.

 — with its — has plans to move its eastern Lakewood location to the corner of Cohassett and Detroit avenues.

There, the company plans to expand its grocery options, among other plans.

Tom McConnell, CEO of Discount Drug Mart, addressed the commission as well as residents. 

“Discount Drug Mart has been depicted as a big corporation that doesn’t know or understand Lakewood,” he said, before listing a number of the company's good deeds in Lakewood.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

McConnell, who grew up in Lakewood, said that Drug Mart has had a presence in Lakewood for most of the company’s 45-year history. 

“The city is working hard to transform Detroit Avenue, and have done a great job,” he said. “I think this is a good part of that." 

Dru Siley, the city’s director of planning and development, said recently that the company has “made a number of revisions over the past three months.”

“Some of those changes are a direct result of comments and concerns from the neighbors,” he said. “And I think the project has gotten better over time because of their input.”

The original Bill August 04, 2012 at 09:17 PM
So Drug Mart should just stay in that small existing building? Or should they just close it and not build a new one because you think there are too many drugstores in Lakewood? You don't think more grocery choices will mean lower prices at Giant Eagle? You have a lot to learn about competition.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward August 04, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I understand competition just fine. And even if they stayed there then that'd keep Value World out of there at least. And so what if they COULD stay there? So what if it's small? Again, we don't need another one. And I hope you know that Drug Mart's prices aren't necessarily the lowest.
ian king August 04, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Hi Christina, I appreciate your concern about more businesses, such as drug stores, etc. I hope you read my previous post. Business develops based on what is needed in the market place. Drug Mart or dollar stores don't open to make a loss! So until Lakewood has less residents needing what Drug Mart or dollar stores sell, they won't go away. And isn't it nicer to have a nice new building than the rundown Drug Mart at 117th? Now if we could only get another grocery store in town to compete with awful Giant Eagle/Ego - I mean the store is filthy, the staff are mean and rude, prices are high, and well, you know if you shop there! Christina, lets all focus on getting some competition for Giant Ego! (I just had an idea, maybe a new grocery store could be built next to the new Drug Mart on Detroit - do you think we could get the already organized Grace hood activists to rally around this development - or is there some lurking evil to a grocery store I may have missed somewhere along the years of my life! LOL)
Christina Cocchiarale Ward August 05, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I would LOVE to have a Trader Joe's wouldn't you? <sigh>. places like that don't want to build over here. But I DID hear that we might be getting an Applebee's--I know we were suppose to get one 3 yrs ago but that fell through. About a month ago I saw a couple men in the big empty lot on the North side of Detroit. Council woman said maybe an Applebee's but of course, nothing set in stone. They just need to believe in us over here and they will come! lol If we could gather enough people for a TJ's, now I think I'd jump for joy!
ian king August 05, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Hi Christina, Yes I would second that, but unfortunately I think they are more suburban oriented these days, or downtown loft districts. I would like instead of an Applebee's, how about a Pei Wei? They are owned by PF Chang, but are very affordable, offer excellent healthy food that is really delicious. I wrote to Pei Wei, which has 3 locations in the Columbus area, and suggested NE Ohio/Lakewood would be perfect for them. If you have ever eaten in one, they are a great alternative to McDonald's, etc. More like an Asian competitor to Chipotle. The more we let them know we want them in Lakewood, it could happen! BTW, another benefit once the new Drug Mart is built is that it will hopefully attract more new business to that area of Detroit. I know the Grace Ave activists won't like that, but the rest of us Lakewooders will for sure!
Alexandra August 06, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Judy, I work in Drug Mart's Pharmacy. The lot is constantly jammed. In all the pharmacies I have worked at Hospitals included, Drug Mart is one of the best I have worked for. I have a great team I work with. The new store will be more tax revenue generating for the City and Value World is a gem if you are a really smart secondhand shopper like I am. I came from a upper middle class background, went to college and I understand people's concerns. Lakewood is booming! This is a good thing. Better a functioning, open, tax revenue generating store than another closed business. Less likely to need that much proposed Tax Levy for the schools. Not everything is "blight" that is secondhand shopping. Lakewood is FULL of it....
Alexandra August 06, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Hey remember people we are totally a revitalizing burn, with great, offbeat restaurant scene and Value world shopping promotes recycling and sustainability!!! Positive progress!
Alexandra August 06, 2012 at 02:35 PM
That was 'burb' LOL!
Susan Kaminski August 06, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I'm happy about DDM upgrading its space. One business I wish would locate in Lakewood - Dave's Market. www.davesmarkets.com you can leave a comment. It's locally owned, decent prices and caters its products to the neighborhood its in. Would love to see something with all the ethnicity in Lakewood now.
Barb Marburger August 06, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Some of the commenters are misinformed - the homeowners in the neighborhood of the proposed Drugmart consistently said that they would welcome Drugmart - if Drugmart would adapt its plan to the commercial area that it bought rather than further eroding the residential neighborhood. But our little city must not have been able to negotiate a Lakewood-sized store with this powerful company.
Mark Buckley August 06, 2012 at 08:01 PM
The residents of Grace wanted Drug Mart to develop within the already established commercial footprint on Detroit. They wanted to stop the eviction and subsequent demolition of the residentially zoned apartment building on Grace. They wanted to stop the carving up and truncating of the "white house's" yard . They wanted to stop the encroachment of a sea of asphalt up Grace. Mostly they wanted a fair playing field on which to argue their case. Make no mistake about this Lakewood lost here, not just in the way the process was compromised but in the short- sighted "develop at any cost" approach by Mayor Summers and Mr. Siley. They have embraced suburban strip mall development for Lakewood and have willfully ignored the most basic tenents of New Urbanism in the process. A year from now when your driving by Mr. Siley's Drug Mart note all the empty parking spaces and think about the apartment building and the neighbors that can't be brought back. Think about the chunk of backyard that D.M ripped from the white house , de-valuing it and all the homes around it. Mostly think about how cheaply Summers and Siley value Lakewood's vision and how quickly they are willing to conform it to the vision of whichever corporation flashes the cash.
ian king August 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Hi Susan - great idea! Dave's Markets are great = clean, nicely organized, well lighted with stocked shelves, friendly and aiding staff - the complete opposite of Giant Eagle/Ego! Lets all contact Dave's and get the ball rollin. BTW, I and several of my friends were active in getting the new Red Box at Walgreen's at 117 and Detroit. We called national offices of Red Box several times and also contacted the national and local management at Walgreen's. AND we know have a Red Box in east side Lakewood! HOORAY! so lets contact Dave's and also call/write PEI WEI, a really great addition to Lakewood if we could get one here.
ian king August 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Hi Mark, Thanks again for keeping the NIMBY torch lit by you folks over on Grace Ave. Unfortunately, one new building on Detroit that just happens to be in your back yard, and a building design that was revised and modified several times to meet local hood activists' desires, does not make for a strip mall decline of Lakewood! LOL! In fact, it is the exact opposite - it speaks for a long term faith and commitment to the city of Lakewood by a recognized and profitable business; a business investing a lot of money and won't close in two years! And once the relatively attractive Drug Mart building is built and successful, it will also hopefully attract more businesses to the East Side of Lakewood, and maybe more in your back yard Mark! So Mark, maybe put the house on the market now if you don't like urban renewal and development. New Urbanism is not only about maintaining pretty streets, ma and pa shops, and walkability, but also about commercial development coexisting with residential. Mayor Summers has the right idea - lets see more commercial development on Detroit. We don't want to become a Cedar/Lee or Severance Center, with lots of empty storefronts. Depending on your perspective, corporate investment is great for us taxpayers and shoppers in Lakewood, maybe not so great for Grace Ave folks living one block away worried about property values.. But then you did buy knowing Detroit was that close to your homes, and that is life in any urban center.
Mark Buckley August 06, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Bruce, Do they wind you up and then you start walking and talking NIMBY. A little more thought would go a long way. And really you look a little desperate monitoring and responding to every entry.
ian king August 07, 2012 at 06:20 AM
Hi Mark! Nice to hear from you, and do enjoy reading another "positive" post by you. BTW, who is Bruce???? Hope you read ALL my posted comments, and I think you will find a few thoughtful ideas, suggestions, comments, insights along the way. If you did, hope you read a couple books I recommended - Richard Florida THE RISE OF THE CREATIVE CLASS and THE GREAT RESET? also, Jeff Speck's SMART GROWTH MANUAL, which is perhaps the closest to what is happening in the Grace Ave/Detroit hood - basically that one of the failures of New Urbanism philosophy was their disregard for the currently built neighborhood/environment and a rigid focus on the ideal enviroment that was too self-selecting/limiting and usually very $$$ . What is happening in Lakewood is more of a new revision of New Urbanism thought that is more in line with Smart Growth movements: mainly the acceptance of mixed uses in dense urban neighborhoods = commercial and residential, varied income housing, walkability complementing public transit, diviersity in architectural styles and design, green/eco focus = all in a vision that doesn't want a "better looking sprawl", or architectural/building sameness, but an integrated, diverse community, physically and visually. Thus, Drug Mart development fits in perfectly with the idea of a Smart Growth direction, by starting with the built environment already in place, and remaking it better to achieve long term economic success with community integration/stability.
Mark Buckley August 07, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Smart growth 101. Take advantage of compact building design. Create walkable neighborhoods. A green/eco focus. Engage the community in the decision making process. Dru Siley 101. Extend beyond existing commercial foot print. Propose a sprawling parking lot that accomodates originally 90 now 70 something cars ( Ian did you say something about walkability?) Approach Drug Mart with plans to buy Ganely, the OCCUPIED apartment building and if they're lucky the white house then present this to the neighborhood as a done deal. In fact lie - present it that Drug Mart had approached the city and it was out of their control. We could discuss the eco -friendly aspects of noise pollution , light pollution, exhaust from running trucks on a scale entirely inappropriate for this neighborhood but I'm done. Good Luck to you Ian. Stay vigilant. Someone else might be posting at any moment.
Alexandra August 07, 2012 at 12:41 PM
NOW to get the old Fairchild Chevrolet lot developed, I am very tired of the undeveloped land at the top of my street, I was VERY happy to see the new condos go in, but very unhappy when the rest of the project fell through. (The firehouse LOOKS nice, but goes unused now) Part of this was the condos were priced to high for the street( I am being fair to MY own street) AND the way Forest CIty was financing the project. What I would like to understand is why NONE of the proposed uses for that chunk of land have not gone through? Heck, I would take even the proposed Applebee's over the empty space and loitiers that have no business in this area anyway. Let's open the old Motorcars used car lot up and make a park for kids there! Green space, playground. There is little of that over here and tons of new kids running around that would be better off running around getting exercise and fresh air in a neighborhood park like those futher west in Lakewood. Let's even out the city's "design".
ian king August 07, 2012 at 01:43 PM
HI Mark, it seems that in previous posts you had encouraged the involvement of the community in issues such as the Drug Mart development. Now, you seem to be "concerned" when a Lakewood fellow Citizen is taking your "advice" and posting a few comments of their own. I am a bit confused here. Anyway, I believe the more posting by anyone with suggestions, ideas, comments, etc., the merrier - and it would be great if more Lakewoodites would emerge, voice their opinion/ideas/comments via this blog. Regarding Smart Growth vs. Dru Siley 101, they are really complementary. Both take a long term vision for the future and encourage what needs to be done in a city from business and residential needs. Sometimes, that may not be what a NIMBY group of citizens want - but it may have to happen for the greater good. For the rest of Lakewood, development is a good thing - and yes, there needs to be a lot of car spaces since walkability is great, but with huge aging/disabled populations in this area, sometimes walking is not an option, and driving/parking a car is the only choice. Regarding all the noise, exhaust fumes, etc. - look Mark - you choose to live near Detroit Ave. - this has been, is and will be one of the major commercial streets in the west side. It never was "Quiet Lane". Life in a city is not quiet, super clean, or dark at night. Maybe time to "Go West, Young Man"! to that quieter area called Bay Village! (but stay away from noisy Lake Road out there!) Best of luck Mark!
xv August 08, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Ian as usual your full of incorrect information. It is obvious that you are not knowledgable about the Grace ave. Hood as you call it. As they build the new Family Dollar store on the Westside of Grace and the new Drug Mart on the Eastside of Grace. Drug Mart alone will be serviced by 20-23 trucks per week. These two parcels of land represented the only vacant property in the Grace Ave. Hood. But soon we will have a new vacant building as the Red Rooster will be closing, maybe you can get Dave's Market to move there or better yet that parcel is big enough for a Red Box. You speak of all the revisions Drug Mart made but I'm sure you could not name three of them if your life depended on it. You keep talking about all the vacant store fronts on the East end on Detroit Ave. Where exactly would you build a new Dave's Market, Pei Wei, or even a Trader Joes.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward August 08, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Where to build a Trader Joe's or a Dave's, Pete? What abt that lot at I believe it's Beach Ave & Detroit (could have wrong street. If I do I apologize). Or what abt a rec center there. That seems to be an empty lot big enough to build an Applebee's as that's the latest rumor on that lot. Yes, it was 3 years ago as well but that fell through. Now it's in the "talking" stage right now. Or build a park there. Or better yet if NOBODY wants to build there break it all up and plant grass like they did at the corner of Newman & Madison. Trader Joe's, in my opinion, would be the best option but who knows if it'd be big enough or not. Not sure why you'd ask where would we put a store as there are plenty of vacancies around. Wow.
xv August 08, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Christina we do have small store front vacancies which are not able to accommodate a Dave's, Trader Joes, ect... The lot you refer to is owned by Forest City properties / developers. They keep telling the city they still want to build more condos, for some reason the city does not even require them to maintain the property. Forest city has been singing the same song for three years now. The new Drug Mart site was not big enough anything you or Ian have proposed.
xv August 08, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Christina sorry did not respond to Park / Rec. center. How would such projects be funded? I'm sure Forest City has no plans on donating the land to the city, and the city can not afford to purchase the land.
Christina Cocchiarale Ward August 08, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Well that lot was not originally intended for condos. It was to be an Applebee's. Fell through. Now they're talking abt it again. Are we talking of the same lot? I'm talking abt the one on the north side of Detroit.
xv August 08, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Yes old f Fairchild Chevy showroom, it was to be phase three of condo project.
xv August 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Christina the lot on the corner of Newman & Madison is owned by the city, and is for sale. The city purchased that bar / rooming house along with an additional house / rooming house on Grace ave which they hope to rehab and sell.
ian king August 08, 2012 at 10:58 PM
HI Peter! Well, I guess you didn't read my comments completely. Recommending a Dave's, or a Pei Wei, or even an Applebee's would be great for the East Side, but not I am not limited just to that area. ANYWHERE in Lakewood would be great! Not far from Grace sits an empty grocery store across from Giant Eagle on Detroit. What about a Trader Joe's there or a Dave's Market? I guess I would still call that in the Grace Ave hood as it is just a bus stop away or so. And easily walkable too from Grace and Detroit. And what about the delayed at least 5 years Rockport Square? How long will the city let that eyesour occupy both sides of Detroit? Can't the city start some legal action on that owner? Could easily be one side Pei Wei, other side Dave's Market! And yes Peter, now that you so "kindly" ask, I can easily offer 3 Drug Mart revisions, but I am feeling generous today, and will offer you 4!: 1. reduction of original parking spaces 2. reduction of footage at 1425 Grace 3. expansion of Cohasset sidewalk 4. improved landscaping on lot. Again, I strongly believe any progress/development in Lakewood is to be supported as long as it is reviewed, commented upon, and approved by the elected officials that be. One can reminiscence about the glory days of Lakewood long past, but planning now in a great depression for the future of a very different Lakewood will not be easy. Our Mayor is to be complimented for encouraging economic growth amidst the disdain of a minor NIMBY group.
xv August 08, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Ian Giant Eagle has submitted plans for building a new Getgo at their old store location. Wow we actually agree on something Rockport Square and the city what's up with that project. Drug Mart did reduce the size by 120 sq ft. Parking was reduced because they were not allowed to tear 1425 house down. Sidewalk was increased from 10 feet to meet city code minimum offset. Landscape has actually been reduced but this will change again after the next ARB meeting. As far as NIMBY YOU ARE SO WRONG!
Christina Cocchiarale Ward August 09, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Ok maybe at the VERY VERY beginning of the building but again, an Applebee's was soon to move in. Phase 3 was on the south side is what I heard. That was to be the next they'd build as far as condos. In that lot with the big black fence Applebee's was a maybe years ago. Then no. Now it's a maybe again. They aren't building condos there. I heard this from my councilwoman that it was in the works abt a possible Applebee's.
Billy November 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Any business with the word "Discount" is NEVER a good thing for the area. That means lakewood is in a transition and focusing more to lower income households and cliental. If lakewood is trying to raise it's standard of living, then this is not a good move...A discount Drug Mart is definitely in conflict with the RockPort project..A trader Joes would make more sense..
ian king November 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Hi Billy - Not only is Lakewood in a transition, the entire NE Ohio area is losing population, experiencing reduced personal and property tax revenues, and seeing home values plummet. This is the reality of NE Ohio today. Until the area can come together and strategically plan to encourage new business growth, new population growth, and stop the home market declines, you will see more and more "Discount" lifestyle here. That is just the way it is. And Trader Joes now usually opens only in suburban upper middle income hoods, Lakewood definitely not qualifying. And the Rockport Project is a joke - I doubt if it will ever be built as it was marketed years ago.

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