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Megachains aren’t always a fitting companion to history, but in the U Street corridor, the two are scheduled to become a package deal.
This fall, a CVS drugstore will open adjacent to the African-American Civil War Memorial at U and 10th Streets NW. The store will occupy the ground floor of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. Now people stocking up on toilet paper and chewing gum will spill out onto the memorial site—not exactly what neighbors and planners envisioned. Derrick Woody, coordinator of the D.C. Office of Planning’s Great Streets Initiative, would have liked to see a restaurant or cafe with outdoor seating, coupled with an apparel store and perhaps a small welcoming center.
“Our vision was to have a use that drew people into the neighborhood and helped to animate that space,” Woody says. “I don’t see that people are going to be sitting outside of the CVS.” Frank Smith, founding director of the African-American Civil War Memorial, sees the reality pretty clearly: “Unfortunately, when you don’t own the property, your choices are limited [as] to what you can do.”