Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury are hot properties in the eyes of CVS, Walgreens and other general retailers, and some community activists are starting to question whether it's a good thing.
"I just want to raise the concern that could come from a lot of the small businesses on the street who do convenience-type business and the impact it would have on their business," said local resident Adam Gibbons at the Feb. 6 Codman Square Neighborhood Council meeting.
It was revealed at the meeting that an independent broker seeking CVS locations in the area, George Gilford, recently approached Grace of All Nations Church with talk of a deal that would involve building a facility for the congregation at a new location in exchange for their prime 451 Washington St. spot.
Until the 1970s, the building that the church now occupies was an A & P Grocery, said the church's Bishop Livingston Foxworth. But he emphasized that Gilford had only just approached him with the idea, and he wouldn't make a move without checking in with his congregation and the community.
"They approached us and there was a conversation, but the church did not commit to anything, nor does the church plan to commit to anything at this time," said Foxworth.
Grace has a particularly large congregation and has been active in the community for decades. The building is in need of some repairs, and the church could always use more space for programming, but there are many ways to address those problems, said Foxworth.
"We're happy where we are. But one way or another we'll have to do something about the facilities we are in."
Chris Graham, owner of Lorenz Island Kuisine and a member of the Codman Square Business Association, said his membership is still considering their position on the subject, but he personally had concerns.
"I don't see where it's really going to be a benefit to the community because we already have a Walgreens and Walgreens doesn't do much besides take the money and go," Graham said. "To have another corporation come in like that isn't really going to benefit the community, unless they can sign some contract to spend a little to make the community a bit better."
The chain is also reportedly looking into locations at a proposed development at Hancock Street and Dorchester Avenue and recently installed a new location in the heart of Uphams Corner, where the much smaller local America's Food Basket chain once operated a store.
"CVS is always looking for sites, that's what they do. There's a lot of interest in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan," said Gilford. "Obviously Codman is a vibrant economic area, any retail would look into that area."