Already getting a much-needed facelift, the ShopRite complex on Bedford Road would receive a further overhaul if CVS becomes a tenant, the Bedford planning board heard Tuesday night.
The drugstore giant disclosed plans last week to open a 14,300-square-foot outlet at the northern end of the center, near Green Lane. Fittingly perhaps, since the proposed drugstore would feature a drive-through prescription pickup, automobiles figure in much of the revamp planned by the plaza's owners, Diamond Properties of Mount Kisco.
CVS has also purchased Drug Mart's pharmacy business, and transferred it to the CVS location at 360 N. Bedford Road. Drug Mart closed its doors for good last week.
In their lengthy presentation to a noncommittal but largely receptive planning board, Diamond representatives suggested wholly new ways for cars to enter the complex, drive through it and park in its space-constrained lot it. Armed with site diagrams and laser pointer, architect Michael Louis Gallin of Irvington walked the board through Bedford Green's proposed changes. Among other things, drivers would:
- Enter from Green Lane via a single driveway, located between the two existing ones
- Follow a main parking aisle that snakes through a couple of turns but eliminates today's speed bumps, which were installed to slow traffic on the straight-as-a-string beeline—what board Chairman Donald J. Coe calls a "bowling alley for speeders"—running from the Green Lane entrance to a point beyond ShopRite
- Park in spaces that are realigned, better defined by curbing and landscape, uniform—in some cases larger—in size, but markedly smaller in number.
Parking was the principal point of contention as Gallin took the board through Tuesday's preliminary review of a proposed site plan. Board member John P. Sullivan pressed Gallin on his proposal to eliminate 23 of the shopping center's 413 spaces, saying, "There's a significant parking issue here."
Gallin called the reduction part of a compromise layout meant to address the "most egregious" parking issues confronting the plaza now. The site plan, he said, balances a need to accommodate cars with two other goals: to configure the spaces at uniform 18-foot depths and cluster them in islands defined by curbs instead of today's painted lines in a "sea of asphalt."
Eliminating 3,000 square feet of office space and introducing the drive-through pickup window, he added, should alleviate some of the center's demand for parking. Still, as board member William A. Colavito noted, holiday parking can prove vexing even with the current allotment of spaces. Moreover, he said, the presence of a CVS would likely only increase traffic.
Building on the holiday theme, member Deirdre Courtney-Batson asked how the 8-acre plaza disposes of snow after a heavy winter storm, which could further constrict parking. Gallin said plows can pile their collected snow in three corners of the lot, much of which lies well below the level of surrounding roads.
Under the site plan, cars would still enter the lot from Green Lane but via a single entrance closer to the Saw Mill River Parkway. Moving the center's access farther west (325 feet from Route 117 vs. today's 150 feet) could also entail a stop sign to slow the rush of traffic from the parkway.
Drivers would immediately encounter CVS on the right, where a martial arts studio had anchored the corner. Someone picking up a prescription at the drive-through would turn right, follow the building's northern edge to the end and turn left. Leaving the pickup window, which would face the Metro-North railroad tracks, drivers turn right to retrace their route, presumably yielding to incoming traffic at the driveway entrance.
The drugstore itself, at more than 14,000 square feet, would be larger than the typical CVS store seen in this area, said Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for the chain. Based in Woonsocket, R.I., CVS Caremark operates some 7,000 outlets in 41 states. Walgreens, the nation's largest drug chain, has more than 7,500 stores. CVS already has a store a quarter-mile south of the Bedford Green site, at 360 North Bedford Road in Mount Kisco. DeAngelis said it would be "premature" to disclose the company's plans for that store if Bedford approves the newer outlet.
Any approval remains several steps away. Coe, the board's chairman, had opened the hearing by complimenting the facelift Diamond began last year on the plaza's landscaping and façade. But, he warned, "That doesn't mean we're going to be easy on you."
Still, for all the wrangling over details, as Courtney-Batson observed at hearing's end, "This is definitely heading in a good direction."
The board, working around vacation conflicts, plans a rare day-night doubleheader for Aug. 10, with a morning field trip to walk the Bedford Green site and a regularly scheduled meeting that evening.