There’s been a minor flurry of activity regarding the possible sale of the lots that Everybody’s Records and the Gaslight Café sit on (If you’re not yet up to speed, you can start here). The city still can’t affect the sale itself in any way that I’m aware of, but since the new Walgreens would almost certainly want to construct a drive-thru at the new location, and because that drive-thru would violate existing zoning regulations, a new Walgreens would have to apply for a zoning change, which would have to be approved by the city’s Planning Commission. It would appear that such approval may not be forthcoming. At the very least, the situation appears marginally better than it did five or so days ago.
There is one point that I should probably clarify. The question that I’ve been asked the most about this is “Why doesn’t Everybody’s just refuse to sell?”. The answer is that they lease the lot that they operate on; they don’t own it. The sale would be taking place between Walgreens and the landlord(s).
- The newly coined Pleasant Ridge Preservation Society assembled almost 1200 signatures in a petition/request for a moratorium in just a little more than 24 hours, and delivered it to City Hall, along with a letter from the Pastor of the church that’s a block away. The society was apparently subsequently contacted by an assistant to Vice Mayor Qualls and asked to stop sending that petition. The message had apparently been received (although I suspect that this may also have to do with the fact that there isn’t a great deal council can do to stop the sale itself).
- Chris Seelbach, Laure Quinlivan, P.G. Sittenfeld, and Vice Mayor Qualls have all issued individual responses to constituents that emailed them. Seelbach and Quinlivan both stated flat out that they were opposed to the plan, and Quinlivan went so far as to say that approval for the zoning change that would be required for a drive-thru to be built “will not be given”. Qualls was careful not to make any such assurances, and Sittenfeld’s response was, well, lukewarm but essentially positive none the less.
In all honesty, I sort of felt like this was a losing battle at the start; I just didn’t think that there was much that a City Council, a community council, and roughly 1200 neighbors could do to affect a private sale between two parties. Recent developments, however, have given me at least a little bit of hope that this will turn out the way that the vast majority of involved parties want it to. I still feel that Walgreens has the clout to hammer this through if they really want to spend the resources to do so, but hopefully they’re seeing all the negative publicity this plan is getting them, and how important those establishments are to the people that live in that neighborhood (not to mention the city at large), and hopefully that realization is giving them some pause. I still think that the best hope for a positive outcome is for Walgreens to simply decide that they don’t want to do it anymore, and while I’d hesitate to attach a specific probability to that happening, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a better chance of it ending that way than there was when this issue first came to light. Hopefully they’ll view Council’s current unwillingness to approve a zoning change as a hurdle that they’d prefer not to jump over.
I know, I know, there’s a lot of “hope” and “hopefully” in that last paragraph, but I think that’s where just about every effort like this one starts. Again, if you don’t want to see Everybody’s and their neighbors move or close, and you haven’t done so already, please email city council and Walgreens, and let them know how you feel.
Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Koocheekoo
Also, many thanks to Cincy Notebook for helping me to stay abreast of what’s happening, and for consolidating all of the Councilpersons’ responses into one convenient place.
UPDATE 6/7: The Enquirer is reporting that the owner of the lot the Everybody’s sits on has not received an offer from Walgreens up to this point, and that he would even be open to selling to Everybody’s.
The owner of the Everybody’s building, Bill DeJonckheere, said Thursday there’s no pending offer from Walgreens. What he’s trying to do, he said, is sign Everybody’s to a new, longer-term lease, or sell the building to the store owner. He’s getting older, he said, and would prefer to sell it.
“If there’s a price that we can’t refuse (from Walgreens), we’d have to consider it,” he said. “But there’s nothing like that right now. (Everybody’s) lease is expiring soon.”
And so far, the city has received no request to demolish, build or change the zoning there, said Charles Graves, planning director. Because Pleasant Ridge’s business district sits in an urban design district, Graves has the authority over any such request there.
No one at Anchor Properties in Covington is talking about the project, but cafe owner Gary Schlegel says that’s the company proposing to bring the drug store to the Montgomery Road spot where the two long-time businesses stand.
Messages left at the company, which has developed other Walgreens in the area, were not returned. Schlegel says his landlady told him the deal might just be too good to pass up.
The biggest and best bit of news here is that this rumor was apparently started while Walgreens was apparently still in the early planning phases. To me, the silence from Anchor indicates that there’s some truth to the story; there’s no reason that I can see that they wouldn’t have piped up and denied it if it were actually false. That said, this is clearly much further off in the future than supporters initially feared, and that works to the advantage of those who oppose it. The infrastructure to fight such a plan is already in place, (relatively) well organized, and motivated. We’ll keep an eye on this moving forward, but it appears, happily, that these establishments are in no immediate danger of closing or moving.