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CVS Responds

This Seattle plan was unacceptable to citizens, who
demanded a more transit-oriented design. And they
got it. (Streetsblog)

A while back, Streetsblog published a report about new development of CVS stores in Seattle, which the local communities there made to be more transit oriented. CVS, as you may know, is based out of Woonsocket, so it interested me to know what their company's attitude towards this transit-oriented development was, and whether it had any plans to implement it in Rhode Island. I also was curious to see if they had any resentments of being made to change their plans for a store in this way. I would have expected that the stated position of a company would be that the community should leave them alone and let them build whatever (crappy, awful, car-oriented) store it wants.

So, last night I received a response from CVS about what they think about all these questions. Here it is, in full:

Dear Mr. Kennedy,
I am in receipt of your message to CVS today. Thank you for your interest in CVS/pharmacy.
We are committed to opening stores that complement and benefit their surrounding communities. As part of our normal course of business, when opening a new store we work closely with the neighborhood and local officials to address any concerns and try to reach mutually agreeable solutions. Currently, we are actively engaging with the neighborhood groups in Seattle and incorporating their feedback in our new store plans.
We do not have any new store projects in the City of Providence at this time. However, a recent local example of a collaborative relationship with community groups regarding new store developments is the CVS/pharmacy we opened a two years ago in the Edgewood section of Cranston at the corner of Broad Street and Norwood Avenue.
Following a series of meetings with neighborhood residents and Cranston officials in 2010, we designed a store to reflect a more New England “colonial” look, enhanced landscaping with buffers to adjacent residential property, and pedestrian-friendly elements including more walkway access to the store, installation of a bike rack, and connecting the Broad St. and Norwood Ave. parking lots on the site that were only accessible from each lot’s adjacent street prior to CVS taking over the property.
Thanks again for the opportunity to explain one of ways that CVS partners with the communities we serve.  
Mike DeAngelis | CVS/pharmacy | Director, Public Relations 401.770.2645 |Michael.DeAngelis@CVSCaremark.com

So, it would seem that CVS doesn't mind being constrained by zoning to have to develop stores that are more in line with transit, walking, or biking. 

It's also worth noting that there are a lot of zoning code provisions that force companies like CVS to be less transit oriented, even if they should want to be without being compelled by the community. The CVS up on Hope Street is one of only a few stores that has a large parking lot, and it's without a doubt true that when that store was developed, the city required that parking lot. Parking runs at about $15,000 a space, nationwide, with some parking in Providence running around $30,000 a space, and Hope Street is one of the most valued areas of the city, so I would guess that this was an expense for the company. It would be nice to see Providence tackle these problems as it revisits its zoning code in the coming year.

We needn't be afraid that urbanism hurts business. It's actually an aid to business, and companies are more than willing to accommodate our interest in being more green. 


  1. I remember when that store was proposed, and there was pushback about some of the design elements, but I don't think I've been past it since it was built. I feel like it ended up being pretty much like every other CVS store, a square box surrounded by asphalt.

  2. Huh, thanks for pointed that out. I just retweeted those articles.

  3. I personally can't imagine anything in Cranston being walking-oriented in a meaningful way, but I thought it was an interesting response. At the very least, CVS wants to "appear" open to talking about these things.