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BevMo! Coming to Santa Monica  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

March 18, 2010 --The CVS on Wilshire Boulevard off Franklin Street will scale down its operation to make way for a BevMo!, the high-quantity alcohol retailer based in Northern California. BevMo! will occupy the left side of the building that from 2001 to 2009 housed a Longs Drugs. CVS will be on the right side.

The building will remain the same size, with no construction needed to bring in the new retailer. The issue went before the Planning Commission on Wednesday because BevMo! needed a conditional-use permit to sell alcohol and to host Friday and Saturday wine and beer tastings.

The Commission voted unanimously to grant the permit.

A handful of residents raised concerns about an additional alcohol store coming to the neighborhood, with one public speaker referring to BevMo! as “a mini liquor Wal-Mart.”

“They are such a megastore,” said Harry Sharafi, who lives on Franklin Street. “They will take so much room and congestion.”
The City staff report disagreed with Sharafi and others’ suggestion that the BevMo! would create traffic and parking issues.

“Traffic and parking congestion will not result from the proposed use in that the proposed project includes the establishment of a new retailer within an existing tenant space that will not be expanded in floor area and does not constitute a change of use from the previous retail occupant,” the report states.

Several speakers used the term “big box retailer” and variations on that to describe BevMo!. Commissioner Jay Johnson said that was not an accurate description for this store, which will measure 10,500 square feet.

Jeff Sealy, vice president of real estate for BevMo!, said he understood the concerns from the community members, but added, “I think the concerns will be unfounded once we open.”

“We’re not a liquor store and we’re not a convenience store,” said Sealy, noting the retailer does not sell cigarettes, adult magazines, malt liquors and other products associated with liquor and convenience stores. “We have a completely different clientele. “

According to the staff report, Police Department officials reviewed the proposal and did not have any concerns.


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