Two Cents' Worth on CVS
A presentation to Boerne’s Historic Landmark Commission created a firestorm earlier this month. A friend suggested re-naming the group Historic Landmine Commission.
Following the presentation, a rumor spread fast: National pharmacy chain CVS is coming to the corner of Main Street and River Road.
The reality is many hoops of local government stand in CVS’s way. The Commission’s “discussion item” was miles away from a groundbreaking.
When I first heard of CVS going where a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint stood for decades, the idea was anathema to me. I like my barbecue orders taken with a pencil and cut-up copy paper. Riverside Market was a brief stop in Mayberry.
Besides, where else could you buy nightcrawlers for the fish and white bread for the ducks of Cibolo Creek?
The Shell gas station / Riverside Market combination was not what tourism professionals would recommend for a gateway welcome center. But it was Boerne.
And it was also sold in 2012 by the Boerne family who had owned it for years. A San Antonio convenience store operator and then real estate investors have owned it since.
Boerne’s Main Street has long been filled with utility. People needed a livery stable and then automobile repair shops. They needed groceries, medicines, gas and places to stay and eat. All these sprang up at one time or another up and down Main Street from Riverside Market.
Directly across Main Street from Riverside, Sach’s Garage operated as the self-proclaimed “oldest garage in town.” City leaders recently referenced a black and white photo of the garage when the CVS developer asked what building type would fit in Boerne’s historic district.
The developer presented renderings of a CVS Pharmacy styled like a 1940s garage to the Historic Landmark Commission two weeks ago. The drawings actually don’t look that bad. They look like an upscale CVS you’d see in Estes Park, CO, or Seaside, FL.
The outcry against CVS seems ubiquitous, but I haven’t heard what people want instead. The hole-in-the-wall is gone. Something else will be built. What should it be?
Public art sculptures? A museum? A gigantic Guadalupe bass with a six foot tall, wide-open mouth for tourists to take selfies in?
How about a restaurant with a deck overlooking Cibolo Creek? Several of those already exist within a stone’s throw of the site. A city park? There’s one across the street. A frozen yogurt shop? There’s one next door. A coffee shop and bakery? Try two doors down.
What about a boutique organic grocery or an outdoor gear outfitter?
Unfortunately, most of these ideas are not financially sustainable at this point. Like other businesses currently along Main, outside sources of income would be required for them to survive. For long-term prosperity, we need more economic viability, not less.
Other questions to ponder: How do we get dry goods and groceries to growing populations on the north and east sides of Boerne? Would it help traffic congestion to the south if we did? Would a series of smaller stores minimize the need for big boxes?
As for Main Street and River Road, an old-fashioned drugstore complete with diner-style grill and soda fountain milkshakes sounds good to me. If CVS will change their exterior to fit our historic district, maybe they would retrofit their interior, too.