Guerrillas in Our Midst

July 14th, 2006 by Editor B

Somebody put banners up on the blighted grocery at Carrollton and Claiborne last night:

Carrollton and Claiborne

Walgreens has held the lease on this property for seven years. They haven’t done anything in that time to deal with this festering eyesore. I don’t know who put up the banners, but kudos to them. They are obviously trying to get the word out that Walgreen’s has not been a good neighbor.

Seven Years Blight

Walgreens wants to build on this site. And yet they’ve got a place just down the street at Carrollton and Earhart which they are abandoning.

The guerrillas hit that site too:

Walgreens at Carrollton and Earhart

Walgreens Kills Neighborhoods

Interesting that the guerrillas chose not to spray paint their message on the buildings, but on easily removed bedsheets. Isn’t that considerate? I wish Walgreens would show the same consideration to the community.

Update: If you’re interested in this topic, you must read Seymour D. Fair’s excellent analysis at Third Battle of New Orleans, with site plans and everything.

23 Responses to “Guerrillas in Our Midst”

  1. Adrastos Says:

    Great stuff, B. Glad to see a blog without a single mention of Journey or “It’s A Small World.”

  2. grisgris Says:

    Shame on Walgreen’s. But shame on the city as well. We’re supposed to have laws against blight – where’s the enforcement?

  3. NorthWest Carrollton » Commercial Blight and Our Hope for Apple Street Says:

    [...] A friend sent me this link, Seems that we are not the only ones who are upset about the vacant spaces, and the lack of commitment to our Community. When a company sucks the life out of a Neighborhood the vibrations are felt for blocks. When a company send the message that we are not wealth enough or important enough to be considered, we hear it loud and clear. [...]

  4. Sophmom Says:

    We have a county, on the north side of Atlanta, Gwinnett, that doesn’t have any zoning or legal disincentives that prohibit chain stores from abandoning locations in order to build newer and better, which is apparently cheaper, nearby. It is covered with empty strip shopping centers with a handful of small and not particularly interesting businesses and gaping eyesores of empty drug, grocery and discount stores. Grisgris is right. This sort of corporate behavior, must be stopped by the municipality in which it is attempted. Good for you guys, both the perpetrator and you, B, for calling them on it and getting that up onto the internet.

  5. Eric Talbot, Chicago, Illinois Says:

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Katrina was and continues to be a tragedy for the people of New Orleans and the entire Gulf-Coastal region it affected.

    However, as these posts of yours are showing me, Katrina’s aftermath has also spurred and enlivened a most necessary and long-overdue awareness among us all that we will no longer tolerate bad business-development practices such as those so well illustrated here in this blog.

    As you all along the Gulf Coast and, especially here in New Orleans, rebuild your devastated communities and neighborhoods, I fervently hope that, for you, the days are over once and for all when businesses such as Walgreens Drug (and all others like them) can run rampant and un-checked over your communties.

    You citizens and neighbors, as you rebuild, have a golden opportunity to make it unmistakeably clear to these business establishments such as Walgreens that you are no longer going to tolerate their insensitive and bull-headed approach to how they design and build their stores in your communities.

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation, to which I belong, should, I hope, serve you as a good resource and ally in your efforts to ensure that, when planning new stores, Walgreens (and other similar chain businesses), must design them sensitively in keeping with the aesthetics and spirit of their surroundings.

    A business must not be allowed to build a store in any communtity or neighborhood until said community or neighborhood has openly and publically reviewed and approved that business establishment’s proposed design.

    If any good comes out of the tragedy and hardship caused by Katrina, I could not think of a better place to create that good than from what you are doing about this issue.

    Rebuilding your neighborhoods sensitively and appropriately, and DOING IT RIGHT THIS TIME, is crucial.

    It will be most gratifying to me, personally, to see you make your concerns here take root and become the required and establised way in which businesses must operate in your community. I know and love New Orleans and its very special neighborhoods, and I am most heartened to see that you care about them so much, too.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Talbot
    Chicago, Illinois

  6. Jenel Hazlett Says:

    Eric, all,
    Thank you for your support.

    We have contacted the National Historic Trust and used information on their web site. What we have not seen from the Trust is direct contact with our City Council representative Shelley Midura ( [email protected] ) indicating just how important this issue is and how important it is to follow the guidelines on the National Trust’s website which just so happen to also follow the existing zoning ordinance (aka the Carrollton Overlay). http://www.nationaltrust.org/issues/downloads/drugstore_tipsheet.pdf
    If you have contact or influence with anyone at the National Trust we would appreciate it if they could make direct contact with Shelley Midura and support our position for a Walgreens development that respects the character of this historic neighborhood. A neighborhood that is on the National Register and the National Trust’s list of most endangered places.

  7. karen Says:

    Thanks for always having your camera “at the ready”

    We hope as New Orleans rebuilds that we can get excited and involved about new projects instead of ignored and insulted

  8. Eric Talbot, Chicago, Illinois Says:

    Dear Jenel Hazlett,

    thank you for letting me know about what kind of experience you all have had thus far with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (this is their official title, correctly spelled out).

    I got an email in indirect response to the post I made above, from Karen Gadbois, and I wrote her back with the following response – which I hereby copy and paste below for you to read. I hope that what I have to say in it will in some way be helpful to you.

    Here it is:

    …………………………………………….. begin copied-and-pasted email ………………………………..

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Dear Karen,

    I am sorry that you have had no success contacting (or, more to the point, getting a response from) The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    The Trust does have a field office set up in New Orleans which is there for the specific purpose of responding to the very great need to protect and save from demolition the many flood-damaged but historic and salvageable properties here which deserve to be restored rather than torn down.

    Here is a National Trust web link describing their Hurricane Katrina activities in New Orleans: http://www.nationaltrust.org/hurricane/reports.html

    I know that they have their hands full dealing with the multitude of issues confronting them in New Orleans, but I think you can and should go to their New Orleans field office in person and bring your issue with Walgreens to their attention.

    I myself am going to find out the best way for you to go about getting the help you need so that your group no longer has to wage “a long lonely fight”!

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has convinced Walgreens to open stores in historic buildings in other parts of the country, and otherwise “clean up their act” so that their stores blend in far more harmoniously with their surroundings.

    Here is the National Trust’s link to their activities with regard specifically to CHAIN DRUGSTORES: http://www.nationaltrust.org/issues/chain_drugstores/

    I am sure that the Trust’s people who are working in New Orleans will be most eager to help you accomplish the same thing in your neighborhood, and they should at the very least be able to offer you sound and constructive advice on what to do.

    I admire all of you for your heads-up courage and determination in doing whatever you can to bring your beloved New Orleans back, in the right way.

    I will email you with further info. as soon as I have it.

    Sincerely, and with my very best wishes for your success!

    Eric.

    At 07:09 PM 7/15/2006, you wrote:

    A friend of mine just sent me your comment. We have
    tried to contact the Hostoric Trust many times and
    recieved no answers.
    This is a long lonely fight
    Thanks for your words,
    Karen Gadbois

    Please Visit http://northwestcarrollton.com/

    ………………………………………………. end copied-and-pasted email …………………………………

    I, as a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will contact them and find out for myself what to do – that is, what they recommend you all do about this Walgreens issue.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Talbot.

  9. Burns Says:

    I love the bedsheets, those people are true American Heroes and they weren’t even involved with 9/11…

  10. Garvey Says:

    “A business must not be allowed to build a store in any communtity or neighborhood until said community or neighborhood has openly and publically reviewed and approved that business establishment’s proposed design.”

    Isn’t that what zoning boards, etc., are supposed to be doing? We can’t make EVERY business subject to some kind of half-assed “democracy,” or nothing will get done. I mean, I get your point, but if we have a representaional govt. then we’ve already hired someone to make sure that Walgreens et al. don’t do this kind of stuff (or elected someone who appointed them). And if these said folks (whom we are already paying to do this work) are falling down on the job, then we have to throw the bums out.

    What I’m getting as is this: your real problem isn’t Walgreens. It’s the rectal sphincters your citizens have elected to office. Treat the disease, not the symptom.

  11. oyster Says:

    Great title, along with a fine post.

    I do love me a great title!

  12. Park Place Blog » Some of Walgreens’ Other Controversial Sites Says:

    [...] One such site (see http://b.rox.com/archives/2006/07/14/886/) shows the struggle being faced by a community group in New Orleans, who pointed me to this site showing photos where Walgreens deserted a big-box style store built in an urban environment. The remaining vacant store is being blamed for contributing to blight. Notice the protest signs there are protesting the inappropriateness of allowing suburban style stores into urban neighborhoods. [...]

  13. Garvey Says:

    Actually, the first picture shown above *is* a big box that used to be a grocery store, isn’t it (crappy, overpriced, filthy grocery store in my day). When that store went out of business, Walgreen’s bought it, yet they never refurbed or even opened?

  14. Editor B Says:

    Garvey, you have grasped the essence of the situation. As I understand it, Walgreens is only leasing that land — they didn’t buy it outright. However the distinction seems academic. They have held the lease for approximately seven years now, and really they’ve done nothing with it. Now they say they want a variance from the zoning regulations to build a suburban-style store there, even as they abandon their flooded store just a few blocks down the street.

  15. Editor B Says:

    Oh, and Garvey, your recommendation to “throw the bums out” is dead right, and in fact that’s exactly what happened in the last election. Though most of the national media was focused on the mayoral race, it’s the City Council that makes the decisions on these issues, and we elected a new reform-minded majority to the council. Hopefully they will prove to have more integrity than the incumbents they displaced.

  16. Eric Talbot, Chicago, Illinois Says:

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    TO: Karen Gadbois and Jenel Hazlett:

    As promised at the conclusion of my July 16th posting above, I said I would do what I could to help you.

    I telephoned the Preservation Resource Center in New Orleans, with whom the National Trust for Historic Preservation is working, and spoke to the staff person who answered my call about your neighborhood’s concern regarding Walgreens’ plans for a store in the North Carrollton area and its insensitive plans for development.

    She forwarded my call to Michelle Kimball, the Preservation Resource Center’s Advocacy Coordinator, with whom I spoke at some length about your not getting a direct response from the National Trust.

    Michelle told me that she knows and has spoken with you, Jenel Hazlett, and she promised me that she would shortly be contacting you about this issue.

    Michelle Kimball impressed me as someone whose word can be trusted, and therefore I hope that she will follow through on her promise to me that she shall contact you.

    I wish to reassure all of you here on this blog that the National Trust for Historic Preservation, working with and through the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, will assist you in some good and concrete way to cope with the Walgreens issue and satisfactorily resolve it in your favor.

    I will keep my eye on this blog for future developments.

    With my very best wishes.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Talbot (I am a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation)
    Chicago, Illinois

  17. Tim Says:

    I’m with Oyster–great post with a great title! One of these days I’m gonna do a blog about all the clever titles, especially the musical references, I see on the New Orleans blogs.

    Fight the power, B!

    Peace,

    Tim

  18. karen Says:

    We have been heard..Shelley backs up her promises to Neighborhoods. Walgreens has been ordered to communicate with us and Negotiate the development of th corner

  19. Editor B Says:

    That’s great news, Karen! I can’t wait to learn more.

  20. Walgreens Manager Says:

    Get a life. I am so sure that if this was your company you would understand. What pharmacy in our country besides Walgreens went down to New Orleans and handed out much needed supplies and perscriptions to those who needed them. No one did except Walgreens. You need to realize the important issues instead of looking at the negative. If Walgreens gives to the communtiy and others dont you need to give them a break.

  21. New Orleanian Says:

    1) Walgreens is a big corporation that knew the rules when they leased the property.
    2) Walgreens is making plenty of money in New Orleans, they are NOT handling health care out for free on the streets.
    3) We expect everyone to follow the laws of our city. When that doesn’t always happen there are 2 options: ignore it (give them a break) or ask that the laws be upheld.
    See http://www.northwestcarrollton.com
    It seems Walgreens has decided that following the rules can be positive and profitable. We think so too and are glad to have them as neighbors…. now.

  22. Distant Onlooker Says:

    So how is that new Walgreen’s doing on that site?

  23. Jenel Hazlett Says:

    The Walgreens is doing just fine. Their profits are rolling in.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nwcarrollton/3552992882/in/set-72157618163187302/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nwcarrollton/3552244129/in/set-72157618163187302/

    We had to get on them about trash and appropriate security but they responded.
    We had to get on them about shipping containers in the parking lot causing safety issues. But they responded and removed these as well. They are asking to place shipping container in the parking lot again an we’ve had to tell them no means NO, not ever.

    Walgreens isn’t evil, just a large corporation trying to make as much money as possible off of us consumers. We just have to remind them that the consumers have reasonable expectations of them as corporate citizens and we all get along fine.

    Walgreens helped sponsor 140 volunteers we had in the neighborhood this summer by donating bottled water. They also make some donations for our night out against crime. And we appreciate the assistance.

Leave a Reply