North Texas Daily

New CVS opening conjures controversial Fry Street past

New CVS opening conjures controversial Fry Street past

New CVS opening conjures controversial Fry Street past
March 11
00:27 2015

 Adalberto Toledo / Staff Writer

The new CVS Pharmacy on West Hickory Street will open March 22, providing students with a nearby place to fill prescriptions and pick up last-minute groceries. However, the newest Fry Street addition recalls nearly decade-old protests, conflict and flames.

Corporate purchases of properties on Fry Street in the 90s led to the eventual purchase and closure of seven popular businesses by Houston-based developer United Equities Inc. on May 13, 2007. Among the many proposed developments on Fry Street was the building of a CVS, which the developers hoped would lead further development of the area with similar franchises.

“Though I want to dislike it because of the past CVS has with the Fry Street area, I know how absolutely convenient it will be to the UNT community,” international studies junior Grayson Middleton. “Unfortunately the loss of a lot of local culture and groovy quirks is inevitable as small towns grow up.”

Protests broke out against purchases and plans for redevelopment, culminating in the creation of a group called Save Fry Street. Included in the closed businesses was The Tomato, a pizzeria founded in 1984 that housed murals and graffitied walls from its nearly 30 years of business.

“I remember someone chained himself inside of The Tomato as protest, which had been already gutted,” Big Mike’s manager and philosophy graduate student Keith Brown said. “There were a lot of older Denton people protesting and also younger people who had only been in Denton for less than a year but still wanted [Fry Street] not to change.”

United Equities planned to build an apartment complex with ample business space on the street level, and bring forth the eventual creation of a “Fry Street Village.” It demolished all the original properties, making room for the Sterling Fry Street apartments, now the U Centre apartments. United Equities now owns no properties in the Denton area.

“I was way too young to be active in it,” said anthropology sophomore Gabriel Gallagher. “But I do remember that I did want the area to keep the mom and pop shops that I remembered.”

Angered by the condemnation of the Save Fry Street movement, students began squatting inside The Tomato. Someone set fire to the Tomato on June 27, 2007, before its scheduled demolition. The other buildings were demolished, but the area remained undeveloped for nearly eight years.

“In 2009 or 2010, I participated in a lawsuit against the city to do something with the land where the CVS is now, because it had already been sitting undeveloped for 2 years,” Brown said. “We wanted to make it a park or something, but the law suit was dropped and it stayed the way it was until very recently.”

Despite the efforts of some Dentonites to keep Fry Street the way it was, the area has changed over time.

“I think that those businesses weren’t really changing with the demand of the campus area,” Gallagher said. “I’d love for all those shops to have stayed here but who else was going to fulfill the student need for a pharmacy and convenience store close to campus other than a CVS? It’s sad, but things have to change.”

Featured Image: The CVS storefront on Hickory Street. The pharmacy and convenient store will open on March 22. Photo by Adrian Warfield – Staff Photographer

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