Thursday, March 13, 2008

Power to the St John's Peeps

I attended the St. John's Community Meeting on Monday evening to discuss the potential new Walgreens. Developer was a no-show which was quite unfortunately. On the plus side, there were a few hundred people there including our State Rep Tina Kotek and City Commissioner candidate Jeff Bissonnette. It was fun to look around the room and pick out other familiar faces. The guy who works at Greg's (but is not Greg), the husband-wife owners of Tres Bone, plus just some folks I know I've seen "around" before. It sounds like we have a very good chance of altering the way a Walgreens would look, and we still have SOME chance at preventing it from going in.

If we can put up enough obstacles that makes it not worth their while, they could withdraw the idea. For example, they have proposed a drive-thru window, which is specifically prohibited by the St. John's-Lombard plan (which has been adopted into city code). It was suggested at the meeting that this could be a major anticipated revenue center for them, and if they can't have the window, it would take away much proposed profit. We need to find what those other things like that are, and see if we can stop them.

I have nothing against Walgreens, per se. But it is the wrong business type for that location. The hard thing is...if Walgreens doesn't go in there, what could go in that spot and actually thrive? It's an oddly triangular-shaped lot that (I don't think) particularly lends itself to the shops-on-the-street vision that the StJ board was talking about. If I were a small retail business owner, that would not be a spot that I would covet.

We all know that Trader Joes is NOT going in there, no matter how much we can all wish for it. We need a business that will appeal (both emotionally and financially) to newcomers and oldtimers on the Peninsula. If there weren't one right around the corner, I think it would be a good spot for a Burgerville. Local & sustainable but not too yuppified. Other pie-in-the-sky ideas:

- another offshoot of Powell's (like the Home & Garden one they have on Hawthorne)
- going with the St John's vintage theme, how about another Red Light or Buffalo Exchange
- a gardening/yard supply store like Pistils

I'd love some cute little shops there as much as the next middle-class-girl-who-moved-to-the-Peninsula-post-2003, but I think we need to be realistic.

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