Walgeens Open Letter
Here is the letter that has been sent out to the Birmingham city council and mayor regarding the Walgreens development.
Proposed Walgreens on Clairmont Avenue & 32nd Street South
I write to express my deep concern about plans to demolish Fire Station #22 together with three other businesses: Palmer & Lawrence, Clairmont Auto Service, and Bogue’s Restaurant, which are located on the 3100 block of Clairmont Avenue. The fire station has been there since at least the 1930s, Bogue’s has been there since 1938, and the service station for over 60 years.
This proposed development impacts many neighborhoods and city residents – Highland Park immediately across the street, Forest Park/South Avondale, Crestwood North and South, and other neighborhoods to the east – whose residents pass by this location every day on their way to work. The full service station has 2700 customers on its books with nowhere else to go to get their cars fixed for miles and miles around. Bogue’s Restaurant is an institution in the city, having served hundreds of thousands of patrons over the past 70 years, and still serving hundreds of people every week. We already have a chain pharmacy, CVS, one block away from this site. I do hope we are not going to adopt a development policy going forward that does not respect current businesses in the city.
Even in these very difficult economic times right now, there has to be a better way to move forward with our economic development than demolishing well-established businesses that have contributed to the city’s coffers for decades. These are three proven businesses instead of one unproven one. What kind of message is that going to send? By the time you get this letter, the city will have received an alternate proposal for this site, and I urge you to give it serious consideration. It is of concern to many of us that the availability of the fire station was so poorly advertised, with not even a For Sale notice placed outside. Several people have remarked that they might have been interested had they known it was available.
There are probably many of us who would like to be Walgreens customers, but would not be willing to patronize the store at this location, when there are so many other possibilities. But we would much rather find a win-win solution that works for everybody. I ask that you not make a firm decision to sell the fire station to Walgreens at your meeting on June 7, but reopen the sale process so that other proposals can be considered and a new location be found for Walgreens. I feel confident that we can find a solution that doesn’t involve removing not one, but two, of Birmingham’s treasured landmarks (and have we forgotten the train station debacle?).
So I write this letter to ask you to respect us and our neighborhoods and that part of our historical heritage that we treasure (the number of people who have expressed dismay at the prospect of this development is now well over 3,000 people and is growing daily). I believe Birmingham will be the poorer if we concentrate merely on numbers and fail to maintain
and nourish the character of our neighborhoods and the concerns of our residents. There is a reason that this whole section of southeast Birmingham has not been affected by loss of residents to the suburbs and that is because we have worked hard to maintain a high quality of life with all of the suburban amenities available in urban neighborhoods.