CVS, Reviewers Meet At Intersection Of Dreams And Reality

By: Ed Maroney

Joy Cuming, chair of the architectural review committee, drills down on the details of the new CVS building planned for Skaket Corners with architect Douglas Grunert. ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS — The intersection of Route 6A and West Road, the first impression many visitors have of Orleans, will send a different message in years to come.
    The big barn of a building that held the Hearth 'n Kettle restaurant is being torn down, complete with its little gazebo. In its place will rise a large CVS pharmacy complete with drive-through window.
    Instead of “stop and linger,” the message will be more like “shop and scoot.”
    The town doesn't get to choose what's built on its doorstep if the project complies with zoning, but its architectural review committee is charged with holding a conversation with the developers to make the structure a good fit.
    Four members of the ARC who met with representatives of TRT Orleans LLC wore pained expressions March 9 as they suggested ways to do that, but there appeared to be an underlying sense of fatalistic acceptance during a preliminary review.
    “It's not that you haven't done a competent job,” chair Joy Cuming told attorney Andrew Singer,  architect Douglas Grunert, and civil engineer Brian J. McCarthy. “To have this drive-around at the intersection is causing the greatest concern, not that Hearth 'n Kettle is any great edifice. How we handle that edge represents the future of Orleans. You're stepping into a very rich dialogue we're having.”
    Traffic would approach the new CVS through the shopping center entrance on West Street and enter an extended parking area. Drive-through users would continue past a parking lane on the Route 6A side of the building, turn and travel parallel to West Road, and turn once again to reach the service window.
    Singer said “all modern” CVS stores have drive-throughs, and they are allowed by zoning. He said the geometry of the site did not allow relocation of the drive-up lane. “We've paid careful attention [to the] architectural treatment of the building where it faces West Road and Route 6A,” he said, “and to landscaping. We're breaking up the massing and increasing overall buffers.”
    The building will feature references to vernacular New England styles, according to Grunert, who pointed to Greek Revival features on the front of the store and “undulating rooflines.” Roofing shingles will be a dark brown, and there's even a false chimney on the side facing into the plaza. “There's a human scale throughout the building,” he said, pointing to double-hung windows and decorative shutters.
    Landscaping was a concern for member Pat Fallender, who noted that “a lot of evergreens are being taken out” for parking on the Route 6A site. She said another line of plantings might help the “low shrubbery” being proposed. Member Bernadette MacLeod called for more plantings and construction of a trellis to break up a wall mass. Artworks were proposed also.
    Although he noted the ideas, Singer said that the new CVS will be “a commercial building in a commercial zone. There is no way to hide everything. It will be better than it is today.”
    Cuming suggested toning down the bright CVS sign and drive-through canopy, substituting a deeper red such as cranberry.
    The project was up for preliminary review by the site plan review committee yesterday (March 15) and will return to both groups when plans are finalized.