The interior of the new CVS on Ashland and Division, inside the historic Home Bank & Trust building. (Photo courtesy of Our Urban Times.)
The Bedford isn’t the only thing creating buzz around the Division/Ashland intersection. It may not be getting quite as much press, but the CVS that has moved into the elegant Home Bank & Trust building has definitely generated some opinions from Wicker Parkers. RedEye recently spoke with some of the shop owners, employees and residents near Division Street and Ashland Avenue about the giant drugstore and what else might have gone in that beautiful space.
“Gosh, you know, it was just empty earlier, so in some sense it’s nice that it’s at least being used, and it’s kind of convenient to have a CVS there. Although to be perfectly honest, with so many other more unique shops around here, it would have been nice if it wasn’t such a big name. What I would really love to see in that space instead? Instead of a place to buy more things, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was instead a place for community activities and gatherings. After all, almost everything CVS offers is available elsewhere within a 10-minute walk of Division and Ashland.”
— Lara Mercurio, resident
“I don’t know if I like necessarily the building they used because it is such a beautiful building. I feel like something a little better could have went in there besides a CVS, but I’m OK with it. I really do think Wicker Park needs more clothing retailers, maybe just art-supply stores, because we are so artsy. We don’t have anything like that here in the neighborhood. I would have loved to see a ginormous bookstore go in there. I think that would have been the most perfect location for a bookstore. But what are you gonna do? The CVS has got the money. [It could have also been a] museum, or, like, a beautiful banquet hall, even, a concert venue, I mean, something a little more cultural because it is such a cultural building that’s been there for so long. No one’s gonna walk in there and stare at the beautiful architecture and enjoy it while they’re shopping for their toothpaste and their tampons.”
— Anastasia Chatzka, owner and designer at Anastasia Chatzka
“I have yet to be in it. I’ve looked in, looked in the windows. I like what they did with it, to make it a little bit of a unique CVS, where at least it looks a little more modern. But I think it’s kinda blasphemy to kill the space because it’s so ornate. … You know it’d be a good space for [the Wicker Park & Bucktown Farmers Market], almost like a marketplace, like an indoor marketplace where it might rotate through three or four days a week, but it’d be all for local produce. That I think would have been a much better use for it, considering it’s beautiful space, it’s ornate. [And it's] right by the ‘L’ — would have brought people into that area to shop.”
— Sean Moran, marketing and operations director at Anastasia Chatzka
“It’s convenient. I don’t have a problem with it. I was kind of excited it was going in. I think it’s a fine thing.”
— Erica Cook, owner of Trillium
“I refuse to go in. I’m not a big fan of, like, those kinds of corporate things, and I think the more we keep putting that stuff in our neighborhood, the less we give people the opportunity to have a great local businesses, and we continue to basically give the money to big corporations, and not to smaller people.
— Shannon Steele, barista at Caffe Streets
“I view it as, it’s just like the Walgreens [a few blocks north on Milwaukee Avenue]. However, it’s a more updated facility, so I don’t know how that would affect a neighborhood as a whole. But maybe to somebody who does not know the neighborhood, [if I] were to come into it from the perspective of not knowing, I’d be like, ‘Oh man, rad, CVS, I’m totally gonna go grab a water now or something because I’m thirsty.’ Point of familiarity.”
— Sarah Fagala, saleswoman at Pump
“My reaction to the CVS is generally positive. I like the convenience of having a drugstore right there to pop in on the way home via the train station. I tend to like CVS more than Walgreens for whatever reason — I know there’s a Walgreens up on Milwaukee, but having that CVS conveniently located is definitely a plus. And I like that they preserved a lot of the interior in the space too. That really helps to give it a little bit more neighborhood character so it doesn’t just seem like a big boxy thing being dropped on the corner.”
—Eleanor Perrone, resident
“I think they did a really nice job with the space. It’s really amazing — you go in, and they still have all the old bank elements there. I think it’s really nice for the corner. That corner needed something; that kind of brought it up a notch. It was depressing. I’m hoping that means something’s gonna actually happen on the other corner now too, [in the former WaMu] or the old Pizza Hut, or just something. It’s weird, this neighborhood, it’s really nice [west of Ashland Avenue from the train], but it kind of dares you to come in when you first come out of the ‘L.’ So now it’s a couple steps toward being a little bit nicer. And the rents on a nice rehabbed building on a major corner like that are gonna be higher, so you’re less likely to get a local entity unless there’s some sort of special funding from the city or something like that.”
— Elizabeth Schuh, resident
“It’s a really gorgeous space inside. It’s pretty impressive space for a CVS — it has sort of like, I don’t know, like an art deco vibe inside. I think it’s super-convenient because I work here [at Ashland Avenue and Thomas Street], and I always need like Lifesavers or lipstick or some sort of prescription medication. So, yeah, it’s great having it here on the corner. I mean, it’s better than having a Walgreens. I don’t know, I think their product selection isn’t as cool. Maybe it’s just their branding. I’m more of a CVS man.”
— Coyote DeGroot, owner of Labrabbit Optics
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