CVS plan approved

By Micah Panczyk Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Although Ravenna planners have decided to allow CVS Pharmacy to build a new drug store in the city's east side, the fate of the historical Watkins House remains unclear.

Construction of the store could begin as early as late April after the Ravenna Planning Commission granted approval Thursday to CVS Pharmacy's proposal to build.

The proposal, which now requires only review from the city's Design Review Commission, will place a 10,125 square-foot pharmacy at the corner of Pratt and Main streets, pending the city engineer's final approval of drainage and utility plans.

"We have worked closely with city personnel and have devised what we consider a fair proposal," said Sam Petros of Retail Today, the Beachwood-based company that will develop the site. "We look forward to getting started here in Ravenna."

CVS recently agreed to purchase each of F.W. Albrecht Grocery Co.'s 15 Acme Express stores, one of which stands at 610 W. Main St. in Ravenna. Petros said that, while he is unaware of CVS's specific plans for the site, the company intends to eventually operate from each of units it purchased.

The commission's approval requires Dr. David Lan to build a parking lot at 344 E. Main Street, the site of the Watkins House _ a structure built before the Civil War, according to Alice Kleinhampl of the Ravenna Heritage Association.

Lan's lot will recoup 38 of the 40-45 parking spaces that will be lost due to the new store, which will stand on a lot accommodating Plaza East's overflow parking. Lan owns Plaza East, its overflow lot and the Watkins House.

The fate of the Watkins House is unclear, because RHA has not yet determined if it can relocate the structure.

"We have three sites in the city of Ravenna to which we could possibly relocate the home," said Joe Bica, an RHA trustee. "All told, the relocation could cost as much as $30,000."

RHA has about $7,500 available to it, but might aim to finance the venture, which would occur June 1 at the absolute earliest, he said. RHA will meet Thursday to render a decision.

Mrs. Lan, however, said she has heard from a person interested in disassembling the house and reassembling it elsewhere in Portage County.

The approval also stipulates that CVS must reconstruct the traffic signal at Main and Elm streets, moving it slightly east to align with the entrance/exit window to the store's parking lot, said Service Director and planning commission member Don Kainrad.

The city also recommended that the company remove the traffic signal at Pratt and Main streets in order to facilitate traffic, he said. Dr. Lan and his wife, Lily, however, raised concern that this removal could impede flow from Pratt Street onto Main Street due to congestion on Main between Elm and Pratt streets, Kainrad said.

The commission required the Lans to furnish at least 38 parking spaces by July 31. Lan said that, because construction of his lot might have to await RHA's relocation venture, the lot might not be finished by that date.

In the event that happens, Lan said he will build a temporary parking lot on property he owns at the corner of Myrtle and Main streets. This lot would be completed by the city's deadline and would accommodate more than 38 spaces, he said.

In other business, the commission approved Vale Edge Market's proposal for a more than 8,000 square-foot addition to its existing structure.

Expansion to the grocery, flower and gift shop at 247 S. Chestnut St. will include construction of a sidewalk that will run the length of the addition and expansion of the parking facilities from 48 to 65 parking spaces.

The city will pay half the cost of installing the sidewalk as part of its "alternate sidewalk replacement program," Kainrad said. The program assists businesses that add sidewalks as part of their private ventures. The cost to install Vale Edge's 180-foot walkway is about $4,000, Kainrad said.

Construction could begin as early as April, said Skip Gray, the company's treasurer. The venture requires only a final approval of storm drainage adjustments for the parking expansion.

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