That’s the verdict from the Capital Zoning District Commission’s design review committee, which held a meeting on the proposal to build a Walgreens drugstore at the northeast corner of 17th and Main streets. (Note: Handy Google map’s street view feature will give you a feel for the look of the corner currently.)
The committee voted only after the developers said no to an offer to put off a decision until they could tweak the design to address committee members’ concerns, according to Randy Jeffery, the CZDC’s director.
Springfield Holdings, a Little Rock real estate development company, wants to build the Walgreens on the corner where the Box restaurant now stands, across the street from a Harvest Foods store. The CZD has fairly strict rules on buildings, meant to protect the area’s historic integrity (the Harvest Foods was grandfathered in). For Walgreens, that meant putting the parking lot in the back and building out to the sidewalk, among other major changes.
Neighborhood activists have been wary, with the general feeling seeming to be that a Walgreens store is officially welcome, as long as it doesn’t look like a Walgreens.
The proposed design had the rear parking and sidewalk build-out, but not the full-length storefront windows CZD regulations specify. It also included an LED scroll sign, strictly prohibited in the district, and several other design elements that would require variances that the design review committee apparently wasn’t inclined to approve.
The CZD staff has also weighed in on the proposal: It’s recommending approval of the project only if the developers agree to make some changes to the design, including many of the changes the design review committee wanted, Jeffery said.
Neither recommendation is binding — the Capital Zoning District Commission makes the final decision. Its next meeting is June 26.