The national pharmacy chain is slowly expanding its presence in San Francisco, and since last summer, it has been working toward opening a location in the city’s gayborhood.
It already operates a CarePlus CVS Pharmacy on Castro Street. But that location has limited hours and has not been able to keep up with a flood of customers looking for a new pharmacy after Walgreens parted ways with Express Scripts.
CVS intends to move into the shopping center near the corner of Market and Noe Streets where Tower Records used to be. The building has been vacant since Tower’s departure five years ago, other than a Radio Shack, and a deal to move Trader Joe’s into the space collapsed in early 2011.
The pharmacy chain intends to only use the roughly 10,000 square foot ground floor space, leaving the second floor available for another tenant. It plans to close in the outdoor atrium entryway and add an elevator bank in the storefront where KardZone used to be housed.
A possible concept can be seen in the architectural rendering above. It is not the final design, however, as CVS intends to hold a design charette this summer with nearby residents and merchants to hammer out a final proposal.
“We heard long ago that filling up the windows with toilet paper was a no go. We have a chance to take a building that is not very good design-wise and make a go of it,” said Evette Davis, a spokeswoman from BergDavis Public Affairs working on the project. “We want to make the store safer, close the entryway and have better lighting.”
Due to neighborhood concerns, Holly Grzywacz, director of development at Landmark Retail Group who is working with CVS on the project, told Castro merchants at their monthly meeting May 3 that the company no longer would seek permits to carry beer and wine or remain open 24 hours a day.
Instead, the store is seeking permission to remain open from 4 a.m. to midnight. It likely will be open only from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., however, until it can assess the needs of the community.
No changes are planned to the parking garage on site, though the new elevator would allow access to it from Market Street.
The company is looking at offering free validated parking for the first 30 minutes for its customers. Normal parking charges would be in place for the next 90 minutes, while the cost would rise after the first two hours in order to discourage all-day parking.
As CVS seeks out neighborhood support – it won approval from the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro this morning – it is increasing its giving to community causes. It paid close to $1,000 for new chairs and tables at the Castro Community Meeting Room and has agreed to cover the cost of flower arrangements in the gayborhood for the next year.
It is also meeting with officials from the GLBT History Museum on 18th Street to explore a possible sponsorship deal.
“We are looking for people to give us other suggestions” for corporate giving, said Grzywacz.
CVS officials do not expect to present their final plans to the Planning Commission until the fall, meaning the store likely won’t open until early 2013 if it is approved.