Council denies CVS appeal

Council denies CVS appeal

Michele Ellson

The City Council on Tuesday denied an appeal to allow patrons of a planned Park Street CVS and shopping center to make right turns on Park, and added conditions to the approval of their development plan there.

The council also nixed a proposal to set up a loading zone on Park Street where the drugstore could unload large trucks between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Foley Street LLC, which owns the property at the corner of Park Street and Tilden Way where the Alameda Station development is being built, had appealed the Planning Board’s August 27 decision denying CVS’s requests to remain open 24 hours a day and to allow shoppers leaving the center to make right turns on Park Street. The request to be permitted to remain open 24 hours a day was dropped in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, though a CVS representative said it could come back if there’s a customer demand for it.

Responding to neighbors’ concerns about a dearth of parking in the Wedge neighborhood that sits behind the shopping district, the council also added a requirement that the retail center’s employees park on site instead of on surrounding streets and that its owners not be allowed to add an exit onto Foley Street, which sits behind the property.

Mayor Marie Gilmore said that she was sympathetic to CVS’s needs, but that she felt compelled to consider neighbors’ concerns as well.

“We’re trying to balance your needs with the needs of the neighborhood,” Gilmore said.

She and other council members said they were concerned that allowing drivers to exit the retail center on Park Street could be problematic for pedestrians, though a transportation consultant working for the property’s owners said doing so would lower traffic for Foley Street residents and create less interaction between cars and pedestrians than the current plan, which has customers exiting onto Tilden Way.

A representative for CVS said the company wanted to be able to unload trucks in the early morning hours before the store opened and became busy and needed the Park Street exit to remain competitive with other Alameda drugstores in a business where convenience counts.

Josh Eisenhut of Armstrong Development Properties, who was representing CVS, said the denials could make plans to move CVS from its current location at Oak Street and Santa Clara Avenue to Park Street less attractive.

“In order to make sure that this project remains viable for relocation, it’s important to keep the playing field as even as possible with the existing store,” said Eisenhut, who said the company saw “a lot of benefits” from the move but also noted that its current store is more profitable than others in the region.

During a 2010 planning process aimed at revitalizing the city’s civic core, city officials envisioned the current CVS location as a spot for a new hotel or expansion of the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex or Civic Center Garage, though the city hasn’t made plans for the property since. City Councilwoman Beverly Johnson said CVS could stay put if it didn’t like the city’s terms.

“This is not one of the best uses of this site on Park Street, and if your current site works for you now, I’m happy with you staying there,” Johnson said.

Some neighbors of the retail development said were grateful CVS dropped its request for permission to remain open 24 hours a day, though some said they didn’t want early-morning truck deliveries to disturb their sleep. Others relayed a long-held gripe about the lack of street parking in their neighborhood.

Colleen Williams and her daughter, Mary Kay, said they have had to park three blocks from their Lincoln Avenue home due to the lack of available parking in their neighborhood.

“Our neighborhood is no longer friendly. And it stems from that parking issue,” Mary Kay Williams said.

In other action, the City Council approved a 66-year lease allowing Bay Ship & Yacht to remain in its current home at 2900 Main Street. The company, one of Alameda’s largest employers, will see its rent drop by $1,500 a month, to $36,916 for the next five years, but it will also be responsible for maintenance and other bills that had been paid by the city.

The property had been leased by Alameda Gateway until 2009, when the city began working directly with Bay Ship & Yacht. Alameda Gateway owns property adjacent to the Tidelands Trust property leased by the city; the building Bay Ship is housed in straddles the property line.

City Manager John Russo, who called Alameda’s maritime industry a “major foundation for our economy” and “one of our prime sources potential growth 21st century,” heralded approval of the lease as a signal to other maritime businesses that Alameda is a good home for them.

“This is such an important, such an important transaction for us,” Russo said.