CVS plans to submit application for Linden Hills store this month

LINDEN HILLS — Developers of a CVS/pharmacy planned near 44th Street & France Avenue expect to submit their development application to the city by mid-June.

The store would replace the former Almsted’s Sunnyside Market building and an adjacent gas station.

Representatives from Velmeir Companies, the national pharmacy chain’s developer, have met with Linden Hills community members twice to discuss plans. After considering resident feedback from the first meeting in April, developers made some changes to the roughly 13,000-square-foot building’s design and presented the revisions at the second meeting in May.

The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council (LHiNC) hosted the community meetings, which have been well attended by residents concerned about various aspects of the project such as its large, suburban design.

After the first meeting, LHiNC drafted a letter to Velmeir outlining 12 specific issues they wanted to see addressed, including building design. The company outlined its response at the second meeting.

With regard to design specifically, Velmeir modified the building to include a new entrance facing Sunnyside Avenue and another facing the parking lot to the east. This was after some neighbors argued the original design “turned its back” on the neighborhood.   

Velmeir Attorney Brian Alton said the new plan also features improved and added windows and landscaping changes, including a sidewalk along the eastern edge of the property. Developers were still tweaking the plans based on community input, he said.

“We made a commitment to continue to work with the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council,” he said.

LHiNC Chairwoman Linea Palmisano said Velmeir was “very thorough” in its responses, but the company’s new design wasn’t entirely satisfying.

“I don’t think Velmeir feels that the Minneapolis Comprehensive plan applies to their project,” she said, noting that the neighborhood feels otherwise.

She said community members still had a number of other concerns beyond the building itself, such as the operations of the pharmacy and its policies around the sale of birth control.

Palmisano said one issue that had surprisingly not become a hot topic was environmental cleanup of the gas station and ash found on the development site.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more questions or concerns about environmental cleanup than have been expressed,” she said. “One of the advantages of having a big development corporation come into an old gas station is that they have the financing to really do a thorough job in that.”  

Palmisano said LHiNC planned to take a formal position on the project at its May 29 board meeting. The board’s position would serve as a recommendation to city planners and Minneapolis Planning Commission members.

For more information on the planned CVS development, including a letter from the owner of the development site and correspondence between LHiNC and Velmeir, visit www.lindenhills.org.

Two other CVS stores have opened in the city recently, including one at the corner of Franklin & Nicollet in the Eat Street Flats development and one in Laurel Village at 11th & Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis.

All told, there are 29 CVS/pharmacy stores in Minnesota, according to the corporation’s website. The corporation is based in Woonsocket, R.I.

Brothers Stanlely and Sidney Goldstein and partner Ralph Hoagland opened the first CVS — which stands for Consumer Value Store — in 1963 in Lowell, Mass. It sold health and beauty products.