Published July 21, 2009
If the approved layout for the new CVS convenience store to be built next to Stambaugh Auditorium on Fifth Avenue is any indication, the City of Youngstown has weak design standards to begin with and either too little power to enforce appropriate design or too much desperation in approving any kind of development.
The layout is simply inappropriate for an urban environment, particularly one with such a richly historic setting as the North Side's Wick Park neighborhood. The store is set back, separated from the street by its parking lot and a "Landscape Area Per Youngstown Regulations." I'm anxious to find out what these regulations are and whether they will amount to more than the three trees depicted in the sketch.
The store should front directly on Fifth Avenue and the West Bound Service Road, ensuring the parking is visually obscured behind it and a more walker-friendly setting is created.
Park Avenue is to be converted to a two-way street. Will it revert to one-way on nights with Stambaugh events? That traffic is already a strain, and the (admittedly unsecured) parking that exists currently on the northwest corner of that lot will be removed. Just today I noticed the medical building on the southwest corner has been demolished.
In addition to questions of footprint, however, the more questionable result of all this is the choice of elevation, which is labeled "Desert Bluff." I had enough desert elevations in Tucson and came back here for the history. Unfortunately, the desert followed me and is now immediately adjacent to Stambaugh.
We should not be so desperate for development that we approve whatever is sent our way. We must develop design standards that represent the best of what we still have, and we must ensure they are adhered to. If a developer threatens to walk away if their cheaper design doesn't get approved, we should let them. It's a desirable enough location for both urban residents and University students, that another pharmacy would have come and bid for it if CVS ended up passing.
If we keep accepting crap, that's all we'll have.