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VOL. 125 | NO. 165 | Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Midtown CVS Approved By Council

Pinnacle Incentives Get Green Light

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council member approved a CVS drug store at Union Ave and Cooper St. on a 10-2 vote that followed a two hour debate.

The council also approved an amendment calling on the developers of the store to get as close as they can in their plans to requirements of the advisory Midtown overlay. The two exceptions to that are restrictions on a drive through window for the pharmacy and how far from the street the building can be.

The zoning plan has not yet been adopted by the council. The overlay was approved on the first of three readings at Tuesday’s meeting.

The planned development will mean the demolition of the Union Avenue United Methodist Church which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It drew opposition from the preservation non-profit, Memphis Heritage as well as several Midtown neighborhood groups and Playhouse On The Square, which occupies another corner at Union and Cooper.

The plan drew support from the pastor of the congregation of 40 that merged with St. Luke United Methodist Church, Methodist church officials for the region and several congregants.

Council member Reid Hedgepeth offered the amendment which suggests the design of the store will continue to change. He also said it was unrealistic to expect the drug store chain to meet all of the guidelines in the overlay.

“We have got an overlay that is a cure all for many different parcels in Midtown,” Hedgepeth said. “There is no way you can follow this overlay for the 6,000 properties. No way.”

Council member Shea Flinn saw the issue as a matter of Memphians being insecure.

“What comes next is important to the entire community,” he said. “It’s not okay just to say, ‘It’s a developer. We need them. We’re desperate.’ I don’t wear that cologne.”

Council member Jim Strickland said the area has enough drug stores.

“I’ve never had a person in Midtown say, ‘Jim, can we just get another pharmacy in Midtown,’” he quipped. ‘If CVS wants the Midtown market, they’ll find a location for it. … We need to raise the bar and expect more out of ourselves and our community.”

But Hedgepeth and others argued that rejecting the CVS proposal would send a message to developers that would leave the corner with a decaying church and no one willing to try to meet the requirements the council would underline through the precedent.

“Developers don’t have to come here and spend their money,” said council member Barbara Swearengen Ware. “We ought to be glad when they do.”

In other action the council:

•Approved $3 million in city funding toward the effort to get Pinnacle Airlines to relocate its headquarters at One Commerce Square. The money will go toward the Center City Commission’s purchase of a Downtown parking garage that is one of several pieces of the city’s pitch to Pinnacle. The council also authorized a $2 million loan from the CCC’s PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) extension fund.

•Voted down a referendum for the Nov. 2 ballot proposed by Council chairman Harold Collins. The ballot question would have asked city voters if they wanted city government to continue funding the Memphis city school system. The referendum ordinance was rejected on its third and final reading.

•Approved the use of Child Impact Statements in city resolutions and ordinances dealing with public safety, land use, health and education. The statements are generated by computer software developed by the University of Memphis and used by Shelby County government for several years. The city is paying $20,000 for the software.

•Approved Charles “Chooch” Pickard as the newest board member of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA).

PROPERTY SALES 74 74 17,939
MORTGAGES 95 95 20,660
BUILDING PERMITS 141 141 36,977
BANKRUPTCIES 59 59 11,485