A new MedExpress urgent care clinic planned for 813 Oak Street is hoped to be part of the start of "literally turning the corner of downtown" streetscape and design east along Oak Street, according to city planning director Bryan Patrick.

The property is being used currently as a gravel parking lot mostly for Layla’s Gyros & Pizzeria. Its new owners have submitted preliminary design documents to city hall, and these will have to be reviewed and approved by the city’s Historic District Commission and Planning Department.

In accordance with planning and design regulations implemented in the last few years, development along part of Oak Street east of Harkrider will have to have wider sidewalks with tree planters and landscaping, and buildings will be built much nearer to the sidewalks, with parking to the side or rear.

"MedExpress is going to be among the first projects to go to permit according to our new overlay regulations," deputy director of planning Wes Craiglow said. To that extent, it will be a trend-setter and hopefully a model we can point to and say, "this is the future of this urban boulevard. And the same can be said for CVS."

A CVS pharmacy is planned for the southeast corner of Oak and Harkrider streets, and will be built along similar lines. Both projects are scheduled for review by the Historic District Commission on May 5.

Changing the complexion of East Oak and Harkrider streets will not happen in a few years, Craiglow said.

"It took at least two generations to turn Oak and Harkrider into what they are now, which is a lower-density, automobile-oriented and basically unwalkable environment," he said. "We can expect it’ll take another two generations to turn it into a more modern, denser urban streetscape more along the lines of a traditional downtown."

(Staff writer Joe Lamb, can be reached by email at joe.lamb@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)