With some encouragement from City Hall, the developers of the Walgreens store planned for Magazine Street have settled on a historic-style design intended to blend with the existing streetscape, abandoning a more modern look they had previously considered.
When Stirling Properties last met with the neighborhoods surrounding the old American Legion hall in the 5500 block of Magazine, they offered three options, each of which blended a contemporary look similar to Whole Foods with varying historic features. Feedback from the neighbors led to no clear consensus in favor of any of the designs, said Stirling vice president Peter Aamodt, so the developers and Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office went back to the drawing board with a new architect, John Williams.
The end result, Aamodt told a group of neighbors Wednesday evening, is an Italianate, turn-of-the-century style building that “fits more contextually with Magazine Street.”
“It’s a drastic change from the way we were going, and we hope it’s widely accepted,” Aamodt said.
The natural brick facade will still have large windows to give the interior a transparent feeling, and much of the interior structure will be exposed, Williams said. The entire building was conceived to fit in with Magazine Street.
“This isn’t the first design we came up with. It’s the one we settled on,” Williams said. “Magazine Street is a very special place in the world, because of the types of architecture. I know you’ve just experienced some other types of architecture.”
The small audience of 20 or so people inside the American Legion building had no complaint with the new design — one audience member said it “looks super” — and concentrated their questions on the operational aspects of the Walgreens.
- How will the signage look? “Minimal,” Williams replied. “This is going to be very subdued. You’re not going to have this big neon Walgreens sign.”
- How will the parking work? Walgreens plans to use some of the lot to help lessen the parking woes in the neighborhood, but it is still working out the logistics, such as whether to charge other businesses for the use of its spaces. “The parking that’s shown here exceeds Walgreens’ need for a store of this side,” he said.
- Will the pharmacy make Magazine Street a target for armed robbers? No, Aamodt said. “People using this Walgreens will be people from the neighborhood,” he said. “There’s so much security built into the building that it’s not worth it.”
The building will be owned by a group of local investors assembled by Stirling, and they hope to close the sale with the American Legion in October, Stirling said. Walgreens plans to sign a 25-year lease, and hopes to open in July.