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CVS, neighborhs come to terms on North Shore store

(ran South, East, editions)

An agreement is reached after months of haggling and little hope.

After months of controversy and continual negotiations, the CVS drugstore chain and the North Shore Neighborhood Association appeared before the Environmental Development Commission (EDC) Wednesday to support the building of a CVS drugstore at the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Ninth Avenue N.

"I'm almost afraid to say anything in light of the progress we've made," said CVS representative Don Mastry, who urged the EDC to approve the site plan's large number of variances that incorporated a hard-fought compromise between the chain and area residents.

"If you had told me two weeks ago that I'd be standing here, I'd have said "no chance.' " said Lane Lastinger, chairman of the neighborhood association's building review committee. "This is now a project that we are very excited about."

The EDC unanimously approved the project.

When the drugstore was first proposed earlier this year, it provoked sharp protest among area residents. The primary concern was for commercial intrusion into their neighborhood, one of the city's historic districts.

During a series of meetings, the developers agreed to reduce the size of the proposed store, to use an art deco design, and to preserve the Allendale Apartments building at the southeast corner of the site. The latter concession was an attempt to provide a buffer between the commercial development on Ninth and the interior neighborhood.

Each month, the EDC meets to consider proposed development projects that require variances or site plan approval, or requests for alley or right-of-way easements. If the requests are not too far out of line with city codes, the EDC will recommend their approval to the City Council_ providing the developer includes substantial greenspace and other changes to improve the appearance of the project.

Among other items considered Wednesday were:

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON PUBLIC LIBRARY _ A site plan for construction of a new $2.68-million library on 18th Avenue S at the north side of the Enoch Davis Center was approved by the EDC. The library, which will increase from its present 4,500 square feet to more than 14,000 square feet, is expected to open in the fall of 2001. The library first opened in 1947 and was named for an African-American author. When the original Gas Plant area library was forced to close to allow development of Tropicana Field, the city reopened it as a branch at the Enoch Davis Center in 1981.

POCKET PLAYLOT _ A street vacation that would allow development of a pocket playlot on East Harbor Drive just east of Sixth Street S was approved by the EDC. The park, which will serve the Harbordale neighborhood and serve as an extension of a linear trail along Salt Creek, will include swings, a play structure and open playing area.

CHILDREN'S RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX _ The Salvation Army obtained EDC approval for a site plan to convert a mobile home park at 3950 Ninth Ave. N into a community residential home service for foster care children who are unlikely to be placed in foster homes or adopted. The complex would include an office structure and eight buildings designed like single-family homes. Each building would house six children and staff. The Salvation Army told the EDC it intends to acquire additional property to create a unified site that would tie the new complex to the existing Sally House, which serves abused children.

APARTMENT COMPLEX _ The EDC approved the transfer of development rights to Oak Street Development Inc. to allow the company to expand its Waterford Apartment complex at 10980 Oak St. NE. The transfer allows further planning for an additional 30 residential units. The proposed manor house or coach house-style apartment development would incorporate a number of apartments and enclosed garages in a single building designed to look like a large multi-gabled house. A mix of loft and multi-bedroom units would be available in two buildings on the site.

MCDONALD'S RESTAURANT _ A 1970s-era McDonald's Restaurant, located at 4275-4593 34th St. S in Maximo Plaza, will be demolished and rebuilt according to a site plan approved by the EDC. The new restaurant marks the latest in a series of shopping center upgrades to seek EDC approval. The most recent involved an ACE Hardware outdoor garden center approved in July.