Walgreens Backs Off Plan for Store in Historic Michigan Downtown
By Lauren Mayer | Online Only | Feb. 3, 2010
Late last week the city of Clio, Mich., confirmed that Walgreens has withdrawn a proposal for a store in its historic downtown. Walgreens' decision saved several privately owned businesses as well as a portion of a public walkway and two parking lots.
"The buildings are a part of the character that is there, and it would have been a shame to lose them," says Ellen Thackery, Field Representative at the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. Read more about Partners in the Field
Clio already has four other pharmacies, and the proposed Walgreens would have been located diagonally across from a Rite Aid.
Reactions within the community were mixed. Some residents felt the demolitions would detract from the history of Clio. "I grew up in Clio, lived here all my life, and mom my worked in one of those buildings," says Debbie Taylor, the owner of a local shop called Floral Expressions.
Taylor says other residents believed that a new Walgreens could have created jobs and made use of buildings that at times have been vacant. "I can't blame them for wanting to sell [to Walgreens]," Taylor says. "If they could have kept them occupied, they probably never would have considered selling."
A Facebook page, Sit-In Against Walgreens Tearing Down Historical Downtown Clio Buildings, served as a forum for community discussion. Residents have continued to voice their concerns on the page, even after the decision was made public.
The city of Clio is a participant in the Cool Cities Blueprints for Michigan's Downtown Project. In 2008 the Clio Downtown Blueprint was developed as an "economic enhancement strategy … specifically crafted to further strengthen Downtown Clio and to guide its future development, in keeping with the community's vision and the market analysis findings." (City Commissioner Bonnie Bare declined to comment.)
As Thackery notes, "If they are able to retain historic buildings, this is a step in the same direction that the Downtown Development Authority had started when they adopted that document," Thackery says. "It's a good idea to try and rehabilitate these buildings that are here."
Although rumors still circulate regarding the future of the buildings, they are, at the moment, safe from major changes.
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