Monday, August 04, 2008

The Latest From Fry Street: No News Is Good News

I missed this story a few weeks ago (mostly because it came from the North Texas Daily, which I rarely see in dead-tree form anymore, and my visits to their website are spotty at best), but I heard about it yesterday from one of my friends who lives in Denton: United Equities, locked in a stalemate with the city of Denton after being denied a drive-through permit for the proposed CVS drugstore, is not planning on moving ahead with the development for the foreseeable future, and they are even considering selling the property.

My response? Good! Sell it quickly, to someone who has ties to the community and cares about its history, and don't let the door hit you in your carpetbagging behind on the way back to Houston.

This thing has been a fiasco from Day One. A UNT student quoted in the story put it best: "This seems like a big waste of money and time," business and marketing senior Devon McAfee said. "This project has ruined businesses like the Tomato who have been a family business and now have no restaurant to call their own." (And The Tomato is still working on things, folks; I just got a MySpace bulletin from them over the weekend. It's just that, after a few false leads, they're not going to announce anything official until a deal is close to being sealed.)

If I had some lottery money, I would certainly join a few of my fellow UNT alums in buying this property and developing it the right way. (Keep in mind that not all of UE's plan was bad, but the replacement of The Tomato and its neighbors with a drugstore turned out to be the fatal flaw for myself and many others.) At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's my idea once again:
[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.

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.
Let's hope that a suitable developer can be found quickly; as depressing as it is to see that empty lot, it's still better than having United Equities' vision of the area rammed down everyone's throats.

As always, more updates as they occur...

(If you're a first-time visitor who has no idea what I'm talking about here, click the "Fry Street" link below for a display of all the posts leading up to this one.)

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