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Posted on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 12:51 p.m.

CVS moves forward with site plans for South State Street store near University of Michigan campus

By Dan Meisler

National pharmacy chain CVS submitted site plans Monday to the city of Ann Arbor to build a new store on South State Street between Liberty and Washington streets.

City planning staff on Tuesday accepted the plans for review, meaning the project could come before the Planning Commission as soon as Sept. 15.

The plans, which already have been approved by the Historic District Commission, call for demolition and rebuilding of the two-story structure at 209-211 S. State, while preserving the brick facade. Tenants in the building are Swirlberry frozen yogurt, Name Brand Tattoo and Sava's State Street Cafe.

John Baumann of The Velmeir Cos. of West Bloomfield, hired by CVS as the construction contractor, said he hopes to begin work in the spring, with a possible late-summer opening. He said demolishing the building and removing the debris while preserving the facade would be a challenge.

"It's going to be a difficult project given that we have to save the façade," he said. "We'll do what we have to do."

The original structure on the site is an 1800s-era Queen Anne-style house which was added on to over the years. The city's Historic District Commission approved CVS' plan in June, agreeing with city staff finding that the historical significance of the home had been diluted by the subsequent additions.

The only other pharmacy in the downtown area is the Village Apothecary on South University, on the other side of the Diag.

Brand Name Tattoo is in the process of moving out of the space, having recently signed a lease to move to 514 E. Washington, just around the corner from the State Street building.

The State Street building is owned by an LLC associated with Palatine Capital Partners of New York City, which acquired it in early 2008 for more than $2 million. CVS would acquire the building as part of the project, Baumann said.


Jeff Hauptman

Sun, Aug 2, 2009 : 7:03 a.m.

The site that CVS is proposing will offer a significantly larger space than the Starbucks has (more than double). Starbucks doesn't wish to give up their current location because the population in the area has responded well to it for years now - at certain points it has been said to be one of the most successful locations in the midwest. I'm looking forward to the CVS being there - there has been a chicken and egg issue for years - who comes first, residential or shopping. This is a big step for downtown and will hopefully entice more people to live downtown and help turn the area in to a 24/7 community.


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 12:30 a.m.

I think it's really sad to lose the dual floor feel of those buildings as well as the smaller spaces that local small businesses can use. why not move into the starbucks, there's still one of those in walking distance and two other coffee shops within 2 blocks of it. I can see the need for a chain store to fill a niche near campus, I just don't see why it has to be there.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 9:02 a.m.

I'll bet Village Apothecary is thrilled CVS is moving in.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 8:40 a.m.

I think this is a great idea - I work downtown and this will be super convenient for me. Also, it's nice they're making an effort to have the store blend in with the area.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 1:54 a.m.

I've long thought that the two things needed to really get more people to live and walk downtown (thus reducing the footprint of sprawl) is a convenience store and a supermarket. There are a lot of students and if we can get more to walk to CVS than drive, the better. There's a need, and a reason why so many drive out to Meijer or CVS... Now CVSs/Walgreen's/RiteAids in the outskirts... Why yes, there are too many.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 6:22 p.m.

swirlberry just opened in that spot less than a month ago. are they moving? thanks juliew for the info about sava's. i've just discovered them and glad to hear they're sticking around.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 5:26 p.m.

I agree with Bob. I live and work downtown and if anything, downtown needs more drugstores. One on Main would be great too. We used to have them. I wish it was a local store like Decker Drugs, Lucky Drugs, or Wenks, but if they aren't moving in, then welcome CVS. I'll still have my prescriptions and do most of my shopping at Village Apothecary, but having a bigger store downtown means I can get the rest of what I need without having to drive. Plus, Sava's Cafe is moving into better space across the street where Zanzibar was and the tattoo shop is moving around the corner so no businesses will have been forced out of downtown.

Bob Dively

Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 5:17 p.m.

I don't understand the comments about duplication of services. The downtown/campus area has one drugstore and no general merchandise stores within a reasonable walking distance. To me, there seems to be a crying need for a downtown/campus store like CVS, and I'm surprised that there isn't one there already. And, as an added bonus, it will keep people on foot and out of their cars.

Gina Valo

Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 4:30 p.m.

I think it's brilliant. Existing convenient stores on campus are way overpriced and students without cars will appreciate not having to make the epic bus ride to Meijer to replace their shampoo or refill a prescription. I'm all for local business, but I also remember what it was like to be a broke college kid.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 3:52 p.m.

Couldn't agree with you more, Jim. I think it's dreadful.

Jim Mazak

Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 3:38 p.m.

Like we need another CVS in town. There is one further down the street near Industrial, 1.5 miles away, 5 total in the city, 3 more close by. The City Planners are going to force all the small shops out of town, then why would people come anymore? I have another CVS right by me, but not those food options which are moving. I guess I have to think of it this way, I save on parking meter fees.