News Writing & Photography: Out with the Old, In with the New

The feature below, headlined “Downtown Beachwood Block Demolished for CVS Pharmacy” when published in August 2015, covered the past, present and future of the historic downtown Beachwood following years of dilapidation at the hands of lazy property owners, resulting in the taking of most of the main corner away for a franchise, which by then was almost a welcome change from the eyesore it had become.

BEACHWOOD – Today marked the end of the last building standing on a downtown block area in the center of town, here, when the approximately 90-year-old former Beachwood Circle Inn, which has operated as Carpet Land and private apartments since about the early 1970s, fell to make way for a new CVS retail pharmacy franchise and parking lot.

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As the demolition claw ripped down the uniquely styled facade, which adhered to its quarter corner of the Beachwood Circle intersection, local residents walked down to watch and traffic along Atlantic City Boulevard slowed as drivers paused to watch or take photos and video of the work.

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Other structures demolished last week as part of the approved CVS site plan included Shoreline Emporium, a custom framing, art and decor shop located in an attractive early-20th century bungalow on Seaman Avenue; a private residence next to it; Care-A-Lot Preschool and Daycare, located in a two-story storefront building next to Carpet Land on Beachwood Boulevard that was originally built as a general store in the early 1920s; and a white home split into rented apartments adjacent a sandy parking area from the preschool on that same street across from the Beachwood Library.

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Following the clearing and grading of the 1.165 acre site, the 13,225 square foot CVS Pharmacy franchise and drive-thru will begin to go up, and include over 50 parking spots, a stormwater management system and plan, 13-foot wide loading area, lighting, buffer screening from adjacent properties and streets, sidewalks and signage.

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The plan is similar but slightly smaller in size to one put forward by the Rite Aid corporation in 2008, when its corporate thinkers felt the itch to abandon the nearly-new site on the corner of Starboard Street in order to gobble up a solid chunk of prime downtown property, leaving its 1990s-era location empty. At that time, some opposition existed in the argument of finding a more appropriate property buyer for the Carpet Land site, which was originally built to mirror the Beachwood Circle by its quarter-circle frontage as the Beachwood Circle Inn, later becoming the Beachwood Circle Shop, a popular hangout for teenagers from the 1930s to the 1960s.

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During World War II, portrait photographs of most of the local men off fighting were hung in the windows of the shop, and when the war ended, the record player was rolled into the street where residents danced in celebration.

One of multiple servicemen 'photo boards' that hung in the Beachwood Circle Shop windows, forgotten about until rediscovered in the 1970s. The largest of the photos seen here is that of local builder and 1950s-era Beachwood Mayor Joseph Jerue

One of multiple servicemen ‘photo boards’ that hung in the Beachwood Circle Shop windows, forgotten about until rediscovered in the 1970s. The largest of the photos seen here is that of local builder and 1950s-era Beachwood Mayor Joseph Jerue

Shortly after the Rite Aid plan failed due to the decimated economy in 2009, a tenant of a second floor apartment allegedly disregarded his lit stove and the resulting fire caused major internal damage to the structure.

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Several attempts by residents and local real estate agents to work with the Carpet Land property owner to find a non-franchise buyer were met with immediate rejection and ejection from the store and property. Its owner then placed band-aid cosmetic fixes to its exterior, including installing and painting plywood boards to match the broken windows, and operated the shop out of a second entrance away from the main fire-damaged area. Over time, it became a local curiosity and target of ridicule by the appearance of multiple hand-made and often misspelled signs advertising the sale of carpet remnants that usually targeted Home Depot, as in, “More Cheapo Than the Depo.”

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The CVS Pharmacy location was approved by the borough land use board earlier this year.

Below are some archival and before, during and after images of the forthcoming CVS downtown block.

Care-A-Lot Preschool, Beachwood Boulevard. Originally built early 1920s, Greene’s Economy Store.

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Shoreline Emporium, Seaman Avenue. Originally pre-war private residence.

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Private Residence, Seaman Avenue.

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Private Residence, split into rental units, Beachwood Boulevard.

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Beachwood Circle Inn, originally built mid-1920s. Later Beachwood Circle Shop and multiple businesses plus upstairs apartments. Later, Carpet Land took over the entire ground floor where smaller shop and businesses were.

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