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Archive for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lawrence City Commission OKs Dillons plan

New Hampshire Street drive-thru pharmacy approved despite neighbors’ qualms

New renderings submitted by Dillons in April 2011 for its proposed store at 17th and Massachusetts streets.

New renderings submitted by Dillons in April 2011 for its proposed store at 17th and Massachusetts streets.

April 26, 2011

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Work could perhaps begin on a new Dillons store on south Massachusetts Street within 60 to 90 days, after city commissioners largely approved of the store’s plans Tuesday night.

Lawrence city commissioners at their weekly meeting approved a site plan for a project to replace the existing Dillons at 1740 Mass. with a larger store but also told the company to come back with a new design for the west facade of the building that is more architecturally interesting.

“I like the north end of the building, but it loses its appeal the farther south you go,” City Commissioner Bob Schumm said of the side of the building that will face Massachusetts Street. “As you slide to the south, it becomes more of a warehouse look.”

But commissioners did approve the most controversial element of the plan — a drive-thru pharmacy along New Hampshire street. Several neighbors urged commissioners to reject that part of the plan, saying it would place store traffic too close to existing residences.

But a majority of commissioners said a pharmacy drive-thru wouldn’t be nearly as disruptive to neighbors as a fast-food drive thru — for instance — and commissioners said they wanted to work with Dillons to make redevelopment of the existing site feasible.

“I don’t mean any offense to the people who work there, but this is one of the worst retail centers we have in the city currently,” City Commissioner Mike Dever said. “It is just horrible. It is an island of concrete. The look there is nothing we want to preserve. The value of these proposed improvements to the community will be tremendous.”

Commissioners approved the drive-thru portion of the plans on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Aron Cromwell, who lives about a block from the site, opposed.

Brian Folmer, director of real estate for Dillons, said the company would work with the city’s Architectural Review Committee to try to make the west facade more appealing to commissioners. Adding windows to the design is a possibility, although Dillons believes that will make the building less energy efficient and could create some safety concerns by allowing light to shine into areas where meat-cutting and other similar work will take place. Adding ivy to the side of the building also will be up for discussion.

The city’s Architectural Review Committee previously had suggested adding murals to the side of the building — done by community artists — but Folmer said Dillons had experienced problems with graffiti at other sites that featured murals.

Folmer said he hoped that design changes could be approved by the city in 30 to 60 days, which would allow construction to begin shortly thereafter. The existing store will be closed and razed during the construction process. The new store likely will take nine to 12 months to construct, Folmer said.

Several neighbors told commissioners that they supported the idea of a new Dillons on the site but believed the company was asking for too many concessions from the city. The company already has received variances that reduced the amount of parking required and eliminated some of the building setbacks on the site.

“It is a bigger store and a taller store, and it is going to be 25 feet closer to our homes,” said Mary Wharff, president of the Barker Neighborhood Association, who opposed the drive-thru. “It seems like Dillons is getting what it wants again and again. Is it too much to tell Dillons that we have given enough?"

Comments

EarthaKitt 3 years, 8 months ago

May I still (fondly) refer to it as Dirty D?

hujiko 3 years, 8 months ago

Even though it is Dirty Dillions, I'm gonna miss it.

ksjayhawk74 3 years, 8 months ago

I've never thought that name was appropriate, it's just small comparatively to the other stores in town.

TheStonesSuck 3 years, 8 months ago

The Dirty Dillons is awesome, there's always a ton of attractive women there. It's like my friend Dede who works at the gas station but gets allll the ladies, because of his walk. He walks around like he's living in dreamland.

aha 3 years, 8 months ago

I've never heard it referred to as Dirty Dillons. We always called it "Ghetto Dillons." So, for me, it'll just be a new Ghetto Dillons.

whatadrag 3 years, 8 months ago

I went there once last summer. I've never seen so many shirtless people shopping

mellowyellow 3 years, 8 months ago

yep - it's Ghetto Dillons regardless - they can change the store front but it will forever be Ghetto Dillons in our hearts.

BigPrune 3 years, 8 months ago

I thought the City was on the "fake window" kick. How come Dillon's doesn't have to put up a wall of fake windows? - because it is an unnecessary major expense perhaps?

2002 3 years, 8 months ago

Good job City. It's about time that this part of town gets a clean up.

Centerville 3 years, 8 months ago

Kudos to Dillons and its shareholders for their investment!

sallyone 3 years, 8 months ago

I have always heard it referred to as the ghetto dillions.

d_prowess 3 years, 8 months ago

It would be funny if they put in those fake windows on the West side and then hung posters for their sale items, like old grocery stores used to do.

somedude20 3 years, 8 months ago

I have a special place for DD in my corazón but some of the people who work there (not Sharon) are pretty darn mean! Sharon is always friendly,smiles and knows a lot of the customers names!!!!

DeMontfort 3 years, 8 months ago

Sharon is the absolute best!!!

And I love the pharmacy team, too.

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