Fayette County

Drugstore planned for downtown

A one-story CVS drugstore carrying an expanded line of groceries is planned for a prominent entrance to downtown Lexington.

The building, originally conceived as part of a larger mixed-use development with apartments, retail and office space, would go on the site of the former Integra Bank building and Heritage Antiques at the intersection of Main, Midland and Vine streets.

Despite potential concerns about the appropriateness of the building's design, downtown developers desperately want a CVS-style store in the area.

"It would fill a void created when Rite Aid on Main Street closed last year, a place for people who live and work downtown to pick up everyday items," said Harold Tate, president and CEO of the Downtown Development Authority.

Downtown proponents say the building needs to have an urban-style design because it will serve as a gateway to downtown for cars coming down East Main Street.

City planners also want it to squarely face Main Street instead of being oriented eastward toward traffic traveling down East Main, as is currently proposed.

Developer Phil Holoubek, one of the owners of the CVS site, said the drugstore had set aside "a significant amount of money in their budget to create a façade of brick and stone that has an urban look."

The building will not be "a typical suburban drugstore building," he said.

A surface parking lot will be screened with limestone or brick columns and landscaping.

"We are working hard with the planning staff to come up with what works for both CVS and the downtown," said developer Gary Joy, of Joy & Associates of Louisville, whose company builds CVS drugstores.

Holoubek said 13 changes have been made in the master plan for the site and the building's design in an effort to gain approval from the city's planning staff.

The pharmacy has applied to the Board of Adjustment for a permit to have a two-lane drive-through prescription window. That request is scheduled to be heard on Friday.

The site poses challenges because it sits at the convergence of three major streets, raising traffic safety issues about cars entering and leaving the site. The city's planning staff has recommended a one-month postponement to the Board of Adjustment to give the developer more time to work on these issues.

Joy said he was agreeable with the postponement.

Once construction begins, the drugstore can be opened in less than one year, Hol oubek said.

The building is being designed to eventually tie in with a larger, urban mixed-use project on that block. Hol oubek said he had hoped to also announce the bigger project — with apartments, retail and office space — but it has been put on hold because the city cannot afford to build an accompanying four-story parking garage.

Joe Kelly, senior adviser to Mayor Jim Newberry, said the city didn't want to move forward given the souring economy and a projected budget shortfall for next fiscal year.

"We all agreed there is a need for additional parking on that end of Main Street," Kelly said. "If the economy improves and a developer puts together an attractive package for downtown, we would be interested in taking another look at a garage."

Holoubek said plans called for the city to own the land and the parking structure and receive all the revenue

The 600-space garage would have cost between $9 million and $12 million to build and probably would have lost about $600,000 a year, he said.

"The private sector can't afford to build them," he said. "But the public sector would earn back far more than $600,000 per year in payroll, sales and property tax receipts because of the increased density you can include on a site when a parking garage is included."

CVS, the nation's largest drugstore chain, has five stores in Lexington. The CVS Caremark Corp. entered the Kentucky market about 10 years ago when it acquired the Revco drugstores in the state.

Last month, another drugstore opened downtown. The Victorian Square Pharmacy on North Broadway in Victorian Square opened with a line of sundry items. It is owned by Richard Slone, who has several pharmacies in Eastern Kentucky.