CVS cleared to open in 2004

Greg Lowe

CVS/pharmacy received permission from the city Wednesday to begin construction on its downtown Evanston location after several months of negotiations.

The impending move will give Northwestern students another nearby drug store option. The store will be in the building Wherehouse Music left in April, at 1711 Sherman Ave., less than a block away from Osco Drug, 1630 Sherman Ave.

Because of a compromise with the city, CVS will have a unique look when it opens in early 2004. The company originally wanted to cover the windows with signage and advertising, said Carolyn Brzezinski, chairwoman of Evanston’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Board, which heard the latest CVS proposal. Brzezinski said the board wanted the windows to be open to the public.

“We wanted something that was more of a pedestrian experience,” she said.

The proposal that won the approval of the site-plan board will feature showroom windows similar to the famous Marshall Field’s windows. The windows will feature seasonal displays and showcase CVS merchandise.

“They assured us that they will keep the window displays fresh and clean,” Brzezinski said.

The store will not be allowed to use paper advertising in the windows.

The restrictions allow CVS to create an innovative atmosphere for the store, said Michele Dodd, regional director for CVS.

“That’s something we don’t have in any of our other stores,” Dodd said. “This is something special for Evanston.”

Because of the desired layout for the store, CVS couldn’t comply with the board’s request to leave all of the windows completely open.

“To their credit, they kept coming back with alternative plans to try and meet our requirements,” Brzezinski said.

Wednesday’s meeting was the fourth since July between Dodd and the site-plan board.

The board wasn’t the only obstacle CVS faced in opening the store. Dodd said that CVS approved plans for the store three years ago but had to wait for the site to open up.

The final hurdle for CVS will be the Sign Review Committee, which will meet Oct. 9. Dodd does not expect any trouble.

“Our signage will be smaller than Wherehouse’s. We just need to get permission to move the sign and re-center it,” said Dodd, a 1990 graduate of NU’s Law School.

CVS/pharmacy is one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, but only recently has begun to expand into the Midwest. The first Evanston CVS opened Sept. 14 at 101 Asbury Ave. The new store will be the first CVS easily accessible to NU students.

Osco management isn’t worried about the competition, said Lauri Sanders, director of public affairs for Jewel-Osco.

“Competitors move into areas that we are in all the time,” she said.

Weinberg junior Radu Postelnicu said he would be glad to see a new option downtown.

“I’m all for it,” Postelnicu said. “I’m from the East Coast. We don’t have Osco. We have CVS.”

Dodd said people from the East Coast often express loyalty for CVS.

“They’ll find some sort of product that they can’t find anywhere else,” Dodd said. “People that grew up on the East Coast will tell me, ‘I found my eye-makeup remover pads!'”