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westsider28

Smith's Drug Store Redevelopment

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As this Herald-Journal article details, the current Smith's Drug Store on Main Street is planned to be demolished, with a 4-story, mixed-use building to be built on the site + the adjacent parking lot.  Smith's would take a space on the Dunbar side of the building, while a separate retail spot would be available on Main.  Apartments would be on the top 3 floors.

I love the concept, however I hate the planned driveway and interior parking.  The owner claims those spots are make-or-break for the project (to accommodate customers w/limited mobility, they claim).  They mentioned the parking entrance at Library Commons as a precedent, but to me, Main is different.  It should be entirely pedestrian focused--no exceptions.  The obvious solution, to me, is for the City to reserve several spots on Dunbar as 15-min spots (and/or more handicapped spaces).  I hope the DRB suggests that during the final review (I'm honestly gonna e-mail them).

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Words cannot express how much I hate this. There should be no exceptions to drive-thrus in downtown on the ONE BLOCK of Main Street that is largely historically in tact.

While I am sympathetic to the need to provide accessible (handicapped) parking spaces, that does not explain the rationale for a drive-thru. The City could require accessible parallel parking spaces on Main or since Dunbar has angled parking it would be pretty easy to convert the spaces to be accessible. I'd say the Smith Drug people just want a drive-thru and are rationalizing it with something that's hard to argue against if you don't understand how the regulations actually work.

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I'm going to beg to differ (and will probably receive howls of protests!). 

Many suburban pharmacies have drive-thru's, why shouldn't a downtown pharmacy have one?  A drive-thru seems to make perfect sense to me, especially as downtown's density increases.  Smith's has stuck with downtown when most others have bailed.  Why not accommodate their simple request?  A handful of parking spaces on Main and Dunbar streets won't cut it. 

The overall rendering looks great.

Okay, now rip me to pieces. :tw_grimace:

 

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Just to clarify (since I was at the DRB meeting): the drive-thru is NOT an actual "drive up to a window to pick up your prescription without getting out of your car."  It is simply parking spots reserved for Smith's (which would have signage explaining that, security cameras, etc).  Hence why I say the City can accommodate them with reserved spots on Dunbar to avoid the necessity of of the drive-thru.  Pedestrians should be the #1 priority here, period.  (which is in the Urban Code; this drive-thru would require a variance which I hope isn't granted).

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my 2 cents. I LOVE the fact that this is proposed, I like the preliminary design and like the green space/court yard. I agree that the drive through parking is a bit much and I'd much rather see that space filled with building or common outdoor space, but I do understand the desire for having their own parking. 

I will say this, this plan, flawed or not is a heck of a lot better than a parking lot and that building that Smith's is in now. 

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Ah ok. I get now that it's a space in which to drive your car through rather than a "drive-thru" like a CVS. For the record - my objection/hatred was based on the concept that this was adding parking and - more importantly - adding a driveway on Main Street.

After looking at the site plan more closely I see that they are actually removing the existing parking area to create a pedestrian alley and effectively swapping places with it to move some parking on/in the east side of the building to result in a net loss of spaces and the removal of the existing rather wide driveway with a much narrower drive aisle/hole.

I still think they should be removing driveways on Main Street, but I think this is ok.

I also don't care for the architecture, and not just because its contemporary bullshit architecture. I think it's boring and generic, even for contemporary bullshit architecture. It looks like any one of the bazillion apartment buildings going up here in Charlotte. It's not special at all, and Main Street should be the most special place. If it has to be contemporary bullshit architecture, at least make it good contemporary bullshit architecture.

To end on a positive note, the urban design is actually pretty good. I like the two retail spots on the ground floor, and I love that there is residential up top.

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To be fair, the design is in the early stages.  The current rendering is more like a massing and design intent.  Materials will be key, and of course the DRB will have the final say.  I must say, the DRB has done an admirable job lately insisting on positive changes in several recent projects.  I'm pretty confident that they realize the importance of this location and will make sure that design is high-quality.  I agree it looks really bland now, but I'd reserve some criticism until we see a more final design.

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Agreed. So far the DRB has always managed to improve the site designs in other projects it affects.

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