United Equities Inc. and the city of Denton are in a stalemate.And the saga continues, even if we thought this was resolved several months ago. Can't United Equities take no for an answer? Or, even better, can't they just take all their marbles and go home?
United Equities, a commercial real estate firm, owns the Fry Street property and can't proceed with development until it receives a use permit, which it was denied by the Denton City Council last December, said Tim Sandifer, spokesperson for United Equities.
The firm is looking to build a strip mall that would include a CVS pharmacy along with various restaurants, he said. Sandifer said the shopping options for students for items such as snacks and general office supplies are very limited.
"We wanted to bring a national retailer to the university," Sandifer said.
Sandifer said the difficulty lies in the drive through that CVS requires in its stores.
Jack Thomson, city council member for District 3, said the company could proceed with building if they give up the drive through.
Thomson said the permit was denied because the council was concerned about traffic becoming more congested in the area.
In order to achieve a permit for a drive through, the city would have to modify the zoning, which would require permission from the zoning commission and the city council, Thomson said.
The zoning commission approved the permit, Sandifer said. But the city council denied the permit with a 3-4 vote, Thomson said.
Sandifer said they are unable to take the drive through out of the plans because CVS is the anchor tenant and it refuses to build until it is allowed to have one.
Right now United Equities has no intention of redoing the plans for the development, Sandifer said.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (isn't it cool how that phrase has survived the technology that spawned it?), I posted the following comment to the NT Daily story:
If United Equities had 1) actually cared about the community or 2) taken the time to study the history of the area, they would have realized what some of us have known all along--that a generic chain drugstore is not a suitable use for the Hickory and Fry corner. The CVS could go just fine on the other end of the property, in the old FEMA call center building at Welch and Oak (which used to be an Eckerd Drugs back in the day). There's more parking and less foot traffic on that end, and the drive-through wouldn't be nearly so much of an issue over there.Stand firm, Denton City Council. Fight the good fight. If these guys think they can eventually bully you into submission, please show them in no uncertain terms that they're sadly mistaken. If they give up and sell the property to someone else, then we're all winners (except the carpetbaggers themselves..but then, I care about them about as much as they care about Denton, which is not at all).
Meanwhile, the Hickory/Fry corner should be the place that houses some of the student-friendly restaurants that they're trying to attract; that would be a much better use of the "gateway" portion of the development. Build replicas of the 1925 buildings that were razed (and invite the Tomato back), and they'd probably win over the city council in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I hope that UE just goes away and sells the property to someone who will actually work with the community instead of trying to run roughshod over everyone in their relentless search for money and nothing else.
Let's see if we're still having this same conversation next month...