Though now boarded up and empty, the vacant lot on Telegraph Avenue where Andronico’s once stood might welcome a new CVS as early as next year.
After Andronico’s Community Markets declared bankruptcy last year, the company closed the Telegraph branch in December — an underperforming location that was a financial burden. The windows and doors were boarded up. The parking lot sat empty. Telegraph was now home to one more vacant lot.
Over the past few months, the Conference Claimants Endowment Board, which owns the lot at 2655 Telegraph, has been in talks with a number of companies to fill in the vacancy, including British supermarket chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, according to Frank Yoachum, a member of the board. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates sent the owners a letter late last year expressing his desire to see a supermarket in the lot, reflecting the desire of many residents in the area.
In the end, however, the board chose to go with CVS Pharmacy. As of this month, CVS is currently in the early stages of applying for a permit, according to CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis.
Telegraph residents can expect to see the new CVS up and running by early 2013 if all goes to according to schedule, according to DeAngelis.
There are currently two CVS stores operating in Berkeley that came about from CVS’s 2008 purchase of Longs Drug store, said DeAngelis. In comparison, CVS’s competitor Walgreens pharmacy has a total of six locations operating in Berkeley.
DeAngelis said the new CVS would actively work to address concerns of community members who wanted to see a new supermarket by offering expanded food options on location.
“The neighbors have been very positive in wanting to make the (CVS) as attractive as possible,” according to LeConte Neighborhood Association President Karl Reeh.
CVS staff have been reaching out to the Le Conte Neighborhood Association members very frequently in recent weeks, Reeh said.
The impending opening of the new CVS comes as a relief to many who were concerned about the number of vacant lots littering Telegraph.
Now, in the meantime, residents have a number of ideas to keep the lot in good use before CVS officially moves in. Residents of the LeConte Neighborhood Association have been pitching ideas as to how the lot should be used in the months leading up to CVS’s opening. One such idea, according to Reeh, is to use the lot as an overflow parking lot for the Berkeley World Music Festival, a festival on Telegraph in the summer that showcases local talent.
Additionally, Reeh has said that the CVS would look into fencing off the entire property to keep the lot closed to homeless visitors.
Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes Telegraph and the Andronico’s lot, emphasized the difficulties of revitalizing Telegraph economically with so many vacant lots now dotting the street, including the newest at the intersection of Telegraph and Haste Street from the November building fire.
Nonetheless, Worthington remained optimistic about Telegraph’s future. In fact, a number of architects, planners and other experts plan on examining Telegraph on April 13th and 14th — focusing specifically on the vacancies and how to improve on them.
“I think it’s positive and exciting that we have these professionals willing to volunteer their time to come up with their plans on how to improve Telegraph,” Worthington said.
Jaehak Yu covers city government.