In what can only be described as a big urban renewal project without being “Urban Renewal,” Newport city councilors Monday night gave the go ahead to build a new Walgreens drug store at NE 1st and 101. In so doing, the council relinquished control of one block of SE 1st from 101 to Southeast Avery. Although several local businesses decried the loss of their straight-shot to 101, a traffic study indicated that there are too many cross streets that dump out onto 101, and do so too close to its busy intersection at Highway 20. The result; backed up traffic and clogged access to side streets. Also, some rather “exciting” turning movements out from SE 1st onto 101.
Although the city vacated control over SE 1st for the one block, there will still be vehicular access. But no parking. It will also become increasingly “pedestrian friendly” when the old car dealership building south of SE 1st is torn down and a new commercial building is constructed. No word on what might go in there.
Local resident Carla Perry asked that her letter of protest be read into the minutes. Ms. Perry claimed that there was no public good to to be achieved from abandoning SE 1st other than to help provide profits to a private business. However, she did suggest that if Walgreens is approved that they provide some form of affordable housing by adding a second story to their new retail building. Planning Director Derrick Tokos told the council that her request could not be honored under current city codes. Or more to the point, for the lack of enabling codes. He said the city lacks the authority to request such a project addition without those codes and that they would have to be part of the original application filed by Walgreens.
With that the council approved the street vacation and approved the project. The property owner told the council the new Walgreens will be built sometime next year. Plans for the parcel south of SE 1st have not been formalized yet.Share on Facebook