Walgreens is coming to Lincoln

By: Britty Bottini, News Messenger Correspondent
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With plans progressing for developing Stone Tower Plaza, which will include a Walgreens; the final map amendment has been reviewed and concluded. After much discussion, City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to amend the parking plan near the proposed Walgreens in the future Twelve Bridges shopping center. City Council approved the removal of the reciprocal-parking policy but refused to allow signage saying that the business could tow cars parked contrary to the nonreciprocal nature of the parking. Reciprocal parking is where customers can only park in front of the store they plan to visit. On Aug. 19, the Planning Commission amended the plans for Stone Tower Plaza by eliminating two buildings and incorporating a 14,490-square-foot Walgreens Store and Pharmacy with a drive through. Since then, Walgreens has expressed concern about the requirements for reciprocal parking, saying that it will not sign the lease unless this part of the plan is removed. “I encourage Walgreen’s to be considerate of the needs of our community and to be flexible,” said City Councilman Tom Cosgrove. Design guidelines for the development on the corner of Twelve Bridges Drive and Firestone Drive include incorporating “small-town inspired elements,” providing a sense of community, according to the city’s staff report. The pedestrian-oriented commercial areas, as explained in the guidelines, should link the various buildings with walkways and have parking facilities that are shared among tenants. John Jackson, Jr. of Jackson Properties, the site’s property owner, said Walgreens does not want shared parking. “Providing private parking allows the property manager to approve changes if there is a problem with parking,” Jackson, Jr. said. “It’s based on experiences of their 6,000 locations nationwide. It’s their policy.” Walgreens said that it did not want parking spaces being taken up by cars that did not belong to Walgreens customers. “I don’t think you’ll find that the parking numbers will be affected,” said council member Kent Nakota. “The area seems large and I don’t think parking will be an issue.” Cosgrove said having reciprocal parking encourages customers to walk from shop to shop. Not having shared spaces prevents this shopping option, as individuals parked in the spots near Walgreens would violate parking policy if they visit other stores. “That just doesn’t seem like a friendly policy,” Cosgrove said. According to council documents, Centralplot, Inc., the building to the north of Walgreen’s, said that it had no objection to Walgreen’s request and signed an amendment to affect the request. After nearly 20 minutes of debate, City Council came to an agreement with Jackson Properties to amend the plans, ordering that the project shall not install parking signage without the approval of City Council. In other news, City Council accepted a $25,040 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This stimulus money will fund the purchase of a patrol vehicle for emergency response and crime-stopping activities by the police department. Also at the council meeting, Mayor Spencer Short declared the first Wednesday of October as Girl Scouts Forever Green Day. “Through Girl Scouts leadership experience, girls grow strong, gain self-confidence, develop leadership skills and learn the lifelong lesson of contributing to their community,” Short said. Nearly 20 Scouts dressed in green gathered at the podium to accept the mayor’s proclamation. Established by the Girl Scout U.S.A., Girl Scouts Forever Green Day is a day to wear green in support of the girls and what makes them strong.