A plan to replace a vacant former Blockbuster Video store on Magazine Street and the rest of the businesses that remain in the same mini shopping center with a CVS pharmacy won unanimous approval from the City Planning Commission on Tuesday.
The proposal, which calls for a store spanning the entirety of the 9,000-square-foot strip mall at Louisiana Avenue, was approved unanimously by the commission, though it faced opposition from nearby residents and neighborhood groups who said they don’t want to see alcohol sold at the property and who argued there already are too many pharmacies in the neighborhood.
The property was originally an Eckerd Pharmacy before being split into several different storefronts, said Mike Sherman, a representative of the developers. Sherman pitched the proposal as a way to return the property to a single tenant, which he said could reduce its impact on nearby properties, compared with allowing it to remain four distinct stores.
But neighbors said there has been a proliferation of drugstores within a couple of blocks of the site and worried that alcohol sales would hurt the quality of life in the area.
“To have another alcohol sales point in this neighborhood is saturating this neighborhood,” said James Smoak, of the Touro-Bouligny Neighborhood Association. “People can go one or two blocks in either direction and get all the alcohol they need.”
Residents also called on the developers to change the layout of the site’s parking lot, which they said has contributed to accidents as cars exit onto Louisiana. They warned the development would increase traffic in the area.
The pharmacy has been working with the Touro-Bouligny group and the Garden District Association to develop a “good neighbor agreement” governing the store’s hours and requiring that security personnel be present while its doors are open, Sherman said.
That agreement will eventually include a section on alcohol, Sherman said, suggesting it would be similar to one used by CVS when it built a store in Broadmoor. The Broadmoor agreement prohibits the sale of malt liquor, fortified wine, single beers and individually sized wine bottles, he said.
Neighbors said the project should not have come before the Planning Commission until that agreement is signed.
“Close doesn’t count for us that live in that neighborhood,” said Steve Scheckman, referring to the unfinished agreement. “We don’t have it, and we don’t trust it.”
The City Council will have the final say on whether the project moves forward. The site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s district.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.