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CVS Superstore Plans for Winchester

CVS is seeking planning permission to build a 13,000 square foot store with 65 parking spaces in Winchester. The plan will have a significant impact on traffic and safety for Winchester residents.

In the past few months CVS has been seeking planning permission to build a 13,000-square-foot store with 65 parking spaces at the corner of Washington and Swanton streets in Winchester. Together with many other local residents, I am concerned about the impact of this proposal on the neighborhood.  I have several causes for concern:

The new store will pose a major safety risk for school children, pedestrians, and cyclists. A traffic study for the new store was completed in July 2012 (probably one of the lightest traffic months of the year), which failed to take into account the existing school year congestion and traffic on Washington Street during morning and afternoon school drop-off and pickup. The traffic study did conclude that the new CVS would generate over 25,000 new car visits per month. As a parent of two school aged children, I am concerned about the safety of their walk to school, especially as the new CVS will have entrances to the parking lot from both Washington and Swanton streets. 

While the current commercial buildings on this site are not attractive, the proposed new CVS (larger than the current CVS on Route 28 in Stoneham) will be two stories tall and together with the parking spaces, will consume a large area that seems out of place in a primarily residential neighborhood of smaller houses. Winchester’s long range vision for the downtown Triangle Area mentions that it is an town objective to retain “..existing commercial/business properties for commercial use that do not impact the tranquility of the Triangle’s residential neighborhoods..”, so it is puzzling that the proposal for a very large two story brick building with 65 parking spaces would be considered for this neighborhood.

Finally, it is also puzzling that CVS wants to open such a large, new store, so close to their existing downtown location in Winchester. Is CVS planning to keep both stores, or will they eventually close their downtown location?

There will be a public hearing at the Town Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7:45 p.m., and I urge concerned residents to attend to find out more about the plans.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sarah B December 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
David, completely agree. Winchester is a town, not a big city. Do we really need a 13K sq/ft CVS. And I don't believe for a minute they will also stay downtown. Just lip-service until the monstrosity is built on Swanton Street and then they'll shut the doors on Main St. I'm sure they have a team of lawyers ready to steamroll our small town. What about the poor neighborhoods surrounding the location? In addition to awful and dangerous traffic, the parking lot lights at 11pm will be like Vegas for those folks. So sad.
quasimodo December 06, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Absolutely RIDICULOUS. How many CVSes does a town needs? A would guess many, and large ones at that, if this one goes through, because the people who will allow it to be, and their so-called leaders, are REALLY sick!
Pats Fan December 06, 2012 at 03:53 PM
It’s a joke that CVS is going to keep 2 locations open in the town and that the town officials believe this. I’m sure that the local downtown businesses aren’t happy about this situation.
DonnaD December 06, 2012 at 05:51 PM
The lawyer for the developer said that CVS would just be a tenant. So....you would have a very large building which could be rented to someone else in the future, and who can predict who that someone else would be? The next tenant could be even less suitable than CVS, and we would not have any control over who goes in there.
HB December 06, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The ideal situation is to bring in a business which would build a nice building at the site, but has a very few customers, employees, or anything else which would bring traffic. Preferably it would be a very profitable business that pays lots of taxes too.
RWinchester December 06, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Why wouldn't CVS keep two locations. Arlington has three CVS (one on the cambridge line, one in the center and one at the high school) and a Walgreens.
RWinchester December 06, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I'm not sure why you think it is sick to have two CVS. There are two dunkin donuts. Does that make Winchester sick? The CVS in the center is very small and I drive to the Rite Aid at Horn Plaza. That takes money out of Winchester.
RWinchester December 06, 2012 at 09:39 PM
You do realize that Arlington has 3 CVS and a Walgreens. Winchester has 2 Dunkin Donuts. Why not have 2 CVS?
RWinchester December 06, 2012 at 09:45 PM
A major safety risk to children? The CVS in the center is a HUGE draw for the students at the Middle School and the High School and they all walk and cross streets to get there. I would say get rid of the center CVS if kids getting hurt is a concern.
Christmas19 December 06, 2012 at 11:37 PM
RWinchester, you are comparing Arlington to Winchester?. Arlington is TWICE the population of Winchester. Also, a Dunkin Donuts is 1/10th of the size of this proposed CVS. In addition, Arlington's downtown (Mass Ave) is 4 lanes+2 parking lanes. A little different than Washington Street! Winchester is not the place for a store of this size. But maybe Arlington is?
RWinchester December 07, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Christmas19, I guess since Arlington is twice the size of Winchester and Arlington has 3 CVS and 1 Walgreens (4 total) that would mean 2 CVS would work in Winchester. Why do you have the right to control who buys private property when the area is already zoned for business. CVS is not a strip club, it sells Doritos and tooth brushes. When the original CVS came to Winchester there was a huge outcry to keep it out of the center, now people are fighting to keep it the only one.
BAV December 07, 2012 at 01:54 AM
it is not zoned for the building that they want to build, hence the need for a special permit. A special permit is not a guaranteed right. They have to show that their deviation form the current zoning is acceptable to the town and the neighborhood. I make no judgement on the CVS yet, but having been through the process before, I know that the wishes of the neighbors are part of the special permit process. As such, everyone in town, and especially those in the neighborhood "have the right" to give their input to the ZBA, with the ZBA having the final "right" to decide. If they chose to build within the current zoning laws, CVS would have the "right" to do whatever they like.
RWinchester December 07, 2012 at 02:06 AM
BAV, You have the right to object but since that area is down and out, I'm not sure why anyone would object. I'm sure it would be much better to have empty retail locations. Maybe the Town should buy it and hold onto it for years and years and do nothing about it like the Farm the town bought.
DWinchester December 07, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Obviously RWinchester you have no concern or regard for elementary school children who would be affected by the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 cars per month that would be flooding Washington St. if a 13,000 sq.ft. CVS moves in. I also don't suppose you have thought about your extra tax dollars that are going to be needed to hire an army of school crossing guards that will need to be hired to ensure the elementary school students safety. There is obviously a reason you live in our lovely town or you would live in Arlington where it would be much more convenient to buy Doritos and tooth paste.
RWinchester December 07, 2012 at 10:49 AM
DWinchester, Do you really think there will be children dropping all over the place because of added traffic? The "Won't someone think of the children" is a weak argument. Where is you statistical back up for a store moving into a neighborhood and a jump in children getting injured.I'm not sure why there would need to be an army of crossing guards. Lets go with your high estimate of 30,000 more cars per month. That is 1000 per day (on average), generally spaced out over a 12 hour day. You are looking at roughly 83 extra cars (on average) per hour at the high end. Is this going to cause mass deaths? Will kids suddenly be crossing the street while cars are going by? I live in Winchester because Arlington feels they should regulate everything including leaf blowers and putting bike lanes on a main road. But even Arlington seemed to not have mass casualties when a HUGE CVS moved right next to the High School. I do drive to Woburn when I can't find a space in the center to go to CVS. Which means I leave with my dollars and spend them in another town.
Pats December 09, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Jeez, those buildings down there are so run down and ugly, as a neighbor I want something done. The fears on cars and traffic are largely unfounded. Washington Street is a pass through already. Swanton is a major connecting road. A have dozen businesses will be eliminated and replaced by one, how much more traffic will really be generated? And how much better will the neighborhood look? I see my property values going up. Plus the Town will collect more taxes. Make it a nice CVS, regulate exterior lighting and require them to be open 24 hours for medications (such as keeping the drive-thru open) and we will all be better off.
Roger Wilson December 10, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I’m an“IMBY” (Improve My Back Yard) not a “NIMBY”. Change is inevitable, progress is not. Cutting-edge retail development is shifting from a car-centric to a multi-modal transportation orientation. Our streets are for people not just people in cars. Our own DOT has set a goal of doubling non-automotive travel in our State. We can help the property owner create a place people (especially those of us right in the neighborhood in easy walking distance) want to come to. People spend money at places they like. Instead of plunking down an outdated suburban sprawl style store with an oversized parking lot can we get the property owner to think about making the place really attractive – a little village center for our corner of town? A drug store in easy walking distance will be great but I think we can do even better.
DWinchester December 11, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Roger your comments are very positive and forward thinking. Please suggest this to the owner and zoning board.
Roger Wilson December 11, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Two of the keys are to relax about traffic congestion which slows speed and improves safety and not to impose needless limits on the street parking needed to make businesses without big parking lots viable - We have had neighbors appose a coffee shop and a sit down restuarant in the area which would have been real additions.
Juice February 28, 2013 at 01:22 PM
The only thing I will miss if CVS goes in that location will be the Laundromat, as far as I know it's the only one in Winchester, what about people that use this business on a weekly basis? I personally would prefer a Walgreens instead. The traffic issues are already congested in that area, so putting a CVS there really will not make a big difference. I also think it will help with creating more jobs. Just not sure why it has to be a two story building.
Miss Lady March 27, 2013 at 01:10 PM
I drive around the Boston area all day for work and have noticed some CVSs that are very attractive. Namely, the one in Wellesley that is built along the main road (like the current building is on Washington St.) with parking behind it. It is two storeys, the exterior is a beautiful flat-stacked river stone and there are doctors' and other professional offices upstairs from it. It's a really lovely building that would look fantastic on the corner of Washington and Swanton. I would suggest pushing back at the developer until they have an upscale design like the one in Wellesley. After all, we'll all be looking at this building for a long time. Let's make it beautiful! We have to admit, some of the zoning in Winchester has left a lot to be desired. If someone is going to clean up that corner, let's do it right and set a tone for high-quality future development!
Miss Lady March 27, 2013 at 01:18 PM
http://www.northstarcenters.com/wellesley_ma.htm for photo of the CVS in Wellesley and http://natdev.com/portfolio/retail/ (see the image in the very bottom-left corner) for the sketch proposal for the site. We should insist on something nice like this!

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