Friday, July 23, 2004

John Kelso has his usual funny stuff on an unusual topic this week. Walgreens has proposed a joint development with Taco Xpress owner Maria Corbalan on the site of Maria's current lease on the Taco Xpress property on South Lamar.

I actually find this story amazing -- big corporate America (boo, hiss...) is locally aware enough and flexible enough to propose what I think is a very decent compromise to local opposition to "big box" retailers. (By the way, I don't consider Walgreen's "big box" -- drug stores are neccessary parts of neighborhoods, and although an independent drugstore might be preferable, there aren't many left...)

This plan has a lot of benefits:
1. Maria, assuming she can get a loan for her portion of the property, would have a permanent home without threat of losing her property to development.
2. The South Lamar area will keep local-business Taco Xpress.
3. Walgreens gets it's location.
4. The neighborhood gains a drug store.

According to Kelso, neighborhood association President Kevin Lewis says he would like to see "for starters, something with residential on top, and some small shops of some sort. We look at some of the places on South Congress as an ideal, the kind of mixed use transit-oriented growth that the city's promoting, in fact."

While I think mixed-use development that mixes residential and commercial space is a a great idea for urban planning, all these neighborhoods that want nothing but "small shops" are being unrealistic. Small shops are great, but your basic neighborhood services like grocery stores and drugstores, won't fit into that plan. Coming up with ways to partner with the Walgreen's and HEBs of the world and integrate them into a "mixed use transit-oriented" neighborhood is much more practical (and challenging). South Lamar should see this proposed partnership between a large corporation and a local business owner as a model for compromise that could set the flavor of future development in the area -- subsidized cooperation funding the local businesses instead of competition forcing them out.

1 comment:

Sara said...

It was pointed out to me this weekend that there is an existing Walgreen's within a mile of this location... which begs the question of whether this would be replacing that location or supplementing it.