If you happened to read the front page of yesterday’s Columbia Daily Tribune, you likely read the continuing saga of the proposed CVS pharmacy at the intersection of Providence and Broadway. In the latest turn of events, the City of Columbia has denied the necessary construction permits because the proposed building isn’t tall enough to meet new city requirements.
I’ll start by saying that I know nothing about CVS…I don’t even think I’ve ever been in one before. And I have no idea why they want to go on the corner directly opposite from Walgreens. Or on a corner that always suffers from a ridiculous amount of traffic and random “Honk for Peace” rallies on that northwest corner. And the answers to those questions don’t even matter…the point is that CVS has been working on this project for almost a year and now, short of a major building re-design, it may be the end of their potential Columbia location.
Even more sobering about the CVS saga is that CVS is a national corporation with tens (or hundreds) of lawyers and real estate experts on their payroll and yet, CVS has spent over 14 months trying to negotiate that proposed location with little forward progress. I guess I didn’t get the memo that the city’s stance on new business was to ignore the number of new jobs created by the business and the proposed tax revenue from sales at the location. Rather, it seems the focus has shifted entirely to ensuring the building that eventually goes in that space is two stories tall. And I don’t understand. Because if a multi-million dollar company can’t succeed at opening their business within the regulations of Columbia code, then what does that mean for the rest of us trying to start and grow small businesses in Boone County, Missouri?
If you’ve read the blog for any amount of time, you know that we have had our share of confusion and frustration with the permitting process. From the initial submission of plans to the final occupancy permit inspection, I held my breath during each step. And in the heart of my deepest desires and long-term goal planning for PJP, I dream of a production facility and space for offices with comfortable chairs and free-flowing coffee all day (well, until 5 and then there would be free-flowing wine). And when I envision that space, I start to wonder if when it finally happens, the City of Columbia will welcome our vision and encourage our success. Or will the city deem our building too short/too tall/too boring/too interesting/too close to the roadway/not close enough to the roadway or…
I have to believe in the former over the latter or I’ll lose all of my faith in the idea that you can build a business from nothing and make it into something. And that the nothing can be something without teams of lawyers and real estate experts and 14 month battles over building heights and commercial zoning. Hello, city council? Can we get back on the pro-business bus and stop wasting time with the things that don’t matter? And if not, can we may do something about the traffic signal timing at the intersection of Providence and Broadway? Something? Anything?
Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox.