Home > Complete Streets, dangerous by design, Ecological Design, Economics, Grand Visioning, Traffic Calming > Walgreens likely to become an eastern bookend to downtown

Walgreens likely to become an eastern bookend to downtown

Thank you for the support

Well, it looks quite possible that Traverse City will get another auto-centric, box-store, convenience store posing as a pharmacy as a gateway into the City as Walgreens eyes the southeast corner of Front and Garfield Ave (Ticker). Potentially losing one of those locally owned anchors of summer, Bardon’s ice cream.

Unlike CVS across town to the west, set to break ground this summer, this project likely won’t raise too much fuss-who cares about this intersection? It has for a longtime been forgotten despite being one of the most unfriendly intersections in town.


Seen this before?

The current C-3 zoning completely allows anything a big store could ever desire–a drive-through, 24-hour service, massive parking lot lighting, ect. At the moment, the City has very little in its tool box to influence the design or impact of development on this corner.

The Walgreens development doesn’t sound for certain, but this development is another reminder that there is a lot weighing on the corridor study, which inlcudes E. Front St. and Garfield Ave. There certainly is support to rethink these corridors and part of that is adopting zoning requirements that don’t restrict use per se, but do influence how private investments interact with and influence public interests.

The corrdidor study isn’t scheduled to end until this fall or the end of the year, but meetings are on-going and need public input. The next Corridor Steering Committee meeting is Tuesday, June 26 at 3pm at the Govermental Center. According to the City Planner, the committee will be reviewing draft framework plans.

What do you think, does a typical Walgreen’s box and parking lot say, “Welcome to Traverse City!” to you?


  1. Richard Miller
    May 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

    What do you think, does a typical Walgreen’s box and parking lot say, “Welcome to Traverse City!” to you?

    No, No, No!

    Bardons does.
    Walgreens just asks, “Why didn’t you just stay home?”

  2. May 23, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Last time I checked I didnt see anyone walking to Bardons…

  3. Greg
    May 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I thought we were all suppose to say “Yes In My Back Yard”, More YIMBY’s needed. Like usual, changes with each issue. Bad store, trying to bring jobs and services to that area, let’s change the zoning and take more private property rights away. Maybe Mr. Howe and Mr. Miller could buy the property and then build what they would like.

  4. May 23, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Nate/Richard, certainly a line-up of families waiting for ice-cream on that corner is a better welcoming image to the City than a typical Walgreens. That said, as someone who does walk to Bardons, improving the comfort level and quality of place in this area is something we comment on almost every time we go there. When I play the “if I won the jackpot, I would…” game while enjoying a medium twist cone, visions for this corner come to mind. This is the difficult part about rethinking parts of the City many have already written off, many will simply be content if it isn’t somewhere they frequent, or only frequent cruising at 35-mph.

    Greg, you’re off-base once again–city planning doesn’t equate taking property rights away. Zoning changes over-time as culture and needs change.

    Clarification: And, I say sure, build a Walgreens–but let’s have the zoning in place where we have an input in what our community becomes. Plenty of nice looking, built for the desired context Walgreens are built around the country that once they go belly-up can easily be retrofitted into something different.

  5. Nancy Griesinger
    May 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

    No, absolutely not, Gary,….No box store or commercial chain of any kind says, “Welcome to Traverse City” to my ear….or my eyes.

    Traverse City planners and commissioners are listening to people who do not live here, more than they are to local folk. They seem bent on destroying the uniqueness of our town.

    I wish they’d wake up to the likes and dislikes of the taxpayers, but they all seem bent on “progressing” toward becoming another cookie cutter town. What a shame, when the ones who make these decisions don’t seem to care about their own hometown. Is it simply greed, or have they lost their common sense?

  6. May 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    There is no “planner” in Traverse City. (Have you seen the canyon creating sunlight blocking buildings going up right on the sidewalk recently?) The planner is just someone that occupies the planning office for the last 20 years!

    I have to agree with Greg above. One more way to keep business out of TC and keep the inflationary prices of everything quite high. Chase’em out I say! Big evel job providing companies.. Oh the humanity! And the terrible long-time tax paying property owners, what shame, what wrong headedness to try and move themselves ahead by selling “their” property as they see fit! Oh so terrible.
    If you don’t like it, then get a real planner in the city and planning commission that does more than roll over and have meetings and studies every 3 months!

  7. mikecgrant
    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    While it’s unfortunate to lose another local icon like Bardon’s I’m not sure what could be realistically done about the situation. To me it looks like part of what is happening is that Bardon’s is another “victim” of TC’s relative success at maintaining its high quality of life and, thereby, maintaining or increasing the property values within the City. It appears that the land where Bardon’s is has become too valuable to its owners that it makes economic sense to them to have an ice cream stand that only generates revenue 6(?) months out of the year on it. And the deepest pocket for the next development looks like it belongs to a national chain. We’ve seen a similar phenomenon downtown with multi-story office buildings replacing old gas stations and tire shops and multi-story condos replacing the iron works. And in old town evidently somebody is going to put up multi-story condos that will link up to the parking deck on what was a surface parking lot. That is, the property gets valuable enough that it justifies a greater level of investment in hopes of a greater return.

    Short of trying to decrease property values in the City (drain the Bay?) I’m not sure how you can legislate/regulate to try and see that businesses like Bardon’s stay in business. Buy Bardon’s out? Another way to go, theoretically (they’d almost surely get sued and lose), is the City could downzone properties like where Bardon’s is and make it so a business couldn’t be over a certain maximum square footage. But assuming the property values still stay what they are that would only turn TC into something like Harbor Springs: quaint little shops that are nice to look at but have to sell very high margin goods that almost nobody can afford to buy. Downtown TC is already somewhat like this.

    In the long run I think TC’s master plan and zoning are pushing the City in what is the right direction, that is, towards higher density and more mixed-use in the downtown and surrounding areas along the commercial streets. Assuming that property values stay up or increase and folks are willing to continue to invest in TC, that’s going to mean more options for people to live/work/play in TC without having to exclusively rely on a car to do it. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to do. Housing affordability it obviously a big issue, but the City itself can only do so much. And stopping multi-story condos from being built in the City doesn’t make the single-family houses that remain any more affordable. Just the opposite, in fact.

    The Corridor Study that Gary references is potentially an important way for folks to influence how the City grows. Specifically, one of the decisions that the City is likely to make in the very near future is whether or not to build the Boardman Lake Avenue bypass along Boardman Lake. In my opinion, building the BLA would set the City way back in terms of making it that much harder for the 8th Street corridor anything more than the raceway that it now is. The zoning/planning for that area would allow it to become another Front Street in terms of density and mixed-use but that’s not going to happen as long as you’ve got four lanes of speeding cars going through there. The way to provide some traffic relief to folks on Cass and Union isn’t the BLA, it’s putting 8th Street on a road diet and at the same time promoting the mixed-use development in that area that’s called for by the City’s master plan and permitted under the existing zoning.

  8. Greg
    May 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Sorry Gary you think I’m off base, but you followed up my point up beautifully. Zoning drastically takes away property rights. While listening to the City discussions on the Rite-Aid drug store, it appeared that our zoning dictates size and color of windows, building materials and aesthetics. Where will this stop? You state zoning needs to be in place so “WE” have an input in what our community becomes, are you not putting restrictions than on the owner of the property by doing this. Zoning by definition is putting restrictions on a person’s property rights. I do believe that if you would like to have all local government buildings be built like log cabins, great, we can have that discussion because these buildings and property belong to all of us. Trying to tell a private someone who buys a piece of land, provides jobs in the construction and services they provide and pays taxes that your building is ugly, or the wrong color, or doesn’t appear to fit my view is far from what our Country was built on. I still think we need more YIMBY’s not the egos of those who think they should dictate what is “Nice Looking” for the general public. Take a deep breath and “Enjoy” something today instead of worrying about something so subjective.

  9. May 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Touché, you caught me in a lazy grammatical short-cut. “Nice looking” doesn’t accurately express what proper zoning/planning addresses–perhaps some day we can have that discussion.

    I will indeed enjoy the day; I always do.

  10. Troy
    May 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    People walk and bike to Bardons all of the time. I often do and encounter other bikes already parked there. Plus, I do see people walking there from the surounding neighborhoods.

  11. Max
    May 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    We bike there regularly in the summer. While sitting there having my ice cream, I’ve seen many people on bikes or on foot coming to get some ice cream too. People even bring their dogs, walking them or in a bike cart.

  12. jimbruckb
    May 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm


    Zoning doesn’t “take away” property rights.

    Zoning requirements were in place before that “private someone” purchased and developed the property, therefore, no rights were “taken away” from the owner through zoning. The owner has just as much freedom as they did when they purchased the property.

  13. Cal Steinorth
    May 24, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I walk there.

  14. May 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Just yesterday I happened to try biking from our home east of the Civic Center to Bryant Park w/my three-year-old daughter on her new wheels. Will never again take on the fire-breathing Front/Garfield intersection. On the way home we crossed Garfield just a bit north, from Bethlehem Lutheran Church to Anderson (ironic that this uncontrolled crossing felt so much safer than the controlled intersection) then used sidewalks along Anderson and through that woodsy area south of the high school to get to Fair/Front, crossing back over there. It’s amazing how much friendlier Fair/Front, less than a quarter-mile east, is than Garfield/Front. No doubt green space on three corners helps. If the property’s for sale, I wonder if a cause could be taken up to buy it and extend the Civic Center property to that corner.

  15. May 27, 2012 at 6:19 am

    There are so many issues with this Walgreens – and one I’d like to raise in addition to the troubles surrounding that intersection, is the historic significance of the building they plan to tear down.

  16. Max
    May 27, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I do the same thing at Grandview/Division these days. I go west past the beach parking lot and cross Grandview in the middle rather than at the “controlled” intersection. It’s annoying that we should have to do it that way just to cross a road without being run over!

  17. Greg
    June 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Check this out for an example of zoning that “takes away” property rights of an existing land owner http://record-eagle.com/local/x1595585634/Boathouse-deck-tests-rules.

    Zoning changes also come into play when an existing land owner wants to sell. Our society has gone way overboard.

  18. June 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Nope. In this case, the owners were given a permit to build something that was not allowed under the township’s zoning. They should not have been given the permit in the first place. That’s why zoning administrator apologized.

    Again, no property rights were taken away through zoning because the zoning ordinance existed when the owners bought the property. The owners have the same property rights as they did when the property was purchased.

    When they purchased the property they could not build new structures or substantially remodel their existing structure within 50 feet of the lakeshore and they can’t do this now.

  19. August 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    People walk or bike to Bardon’s every day of summer!

  20. tresbay
    August 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    “…this project likely won’t raise too much fuss-who cares about this intersection? It has for a longtime been forgotten despite being one of the most unfriendly intersections in town.” Au contraire, this is a very contentious change, especially for those of us who have deeply cherished the family atmosphere of this town for many years. Bardon’s is reflective of small-town, neighborhood-friendly small businesses, and it’s the source of great memories for me and my family, and many others, for a long time. I am crushed that Walgreens likely will wipe it off the face of the earth. Bardon’s has not been forgotten, nor will it ever be.

    The CVS at Front and Division fills an eye sore that’s stood for several years. While I’m no fan of “yet another chain pharmacy” in town, at least that lot is finally going to house a business. But as to the Front and Garfield intersection, a viable — and welcoming! — business sits there now.

    I’m sure this means little to many of you who have lived in TC for less than 10 years, especially those who don’t live near Bardon’s, but to the rest of us, it’s a big damn deal. Family-friendly businesses adorned with years of fond memories are far more valuable than shiny new drugstores. Waltons: you’re doing just fine; please, go build somewhere else, before this town loses the small-town charm that drew most people here to begin with (and for natives like me, why we stay here).

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