Big-box grocery would not fit neighborhood’s character

To the editor:

Worthington seems to be up for grabs lately, in the big-business realm of commercial property development, and we as a community need to do something about it before it’s too late.

We’re being told that the best that can be done with the United Methodist Children’s Home property along North High Street is a large new grocery store.

Many of us miss the old neighborhood-oriented Jubilee. We’ve hoped that something similar, like a Trader Joe’s or a local, smaller-scale market would come to Worthington. There are a few notably successful of these in other Columbus-area neighborhoods. These businesses are vastly different from a major grocery store.

Worthington has managed to avoid the ubiquitous mega-stores. Our businesses are predominately local and low scale. Why would we want to jeopardize this now and come that much closer to looking and feeling like just another commercial strip no one cares about? Would the 5-10 minutes saved by not needing to go less than 2 miles in any of three different directions, as we can today, really be worth it?

We must respect the rights of the owners of the property, but we urge our City Council and local boards to work for something much more in keeping with the character of our neighborhood, as outlined in the city’s 20-year plan. There may be fiscal pressure on Worthington to see properties being developed, but the greatest cost would be in doing it wrong.

On a related front, Worthington is experiencing a troubled relationship with the CVS at High and North. There has been no follow-through on the agreed-upon plan for two smaller buildings to complement the drug store, and nothing is being done with the former CVS space across the street, other than proposing to add a hardware store, which would not likely be good news for our venerable Worthington Hardware downtown. Among this available space is room for the neighborhood grocery we’ve lacked since Jubilee left. This location is much more attractive for a grocery store than the UMCH property.

We understand that CVS maintains restrictions on a number of possible future uses of the property, to avoid competition with its sales of very limited groceries, beer and wine. These restrictions do not serve the greater good of the neighborhood in which CVS operates.

On reflection, CVS is just another big-box retailer with little regard for the local area and community. We need better from them in supporting Worthington. We have determined that until we get it, this is not a business we’re going to support.

We hope others will boycott CVS, as well, in order to get their attention. As with the mega-grocery, the hardship of shopping elsewhere is not that great, considering all of the nearby alternatives.

Jim and Kay Keller