BY: JULIANA VERHAGE | STAFF WRITER
“The University is not taking a position,” said Joe Watkins, Vice President of External Relations about the issue of CVS attempting to purchase former Fresh & Easy location on Catalina Boulevard.
Since the location was bought through Bankruptcy courts by CVS last December, lots of controversy has occurred over the purchase. Because of a non-compete clause in neighboring pharmacy, Point Loma Cabrillo Drug, owner Michael Saad’s lease, as well as a stipulation by the landlord that the location must be used by a grocer, it is unclear if the sale will hold up in court. The hearing for this case is set for mid- February.
“There are too many unknown variables at this point” said Watkins. “But the university has indicated the preference to say grocery services would be helpful and best for our campus, our community. And if we can be a part of a solution at some point, we are happy to do so.”
Rather than taking direct action, Watkins said, “For the university, we are in this space of being observant. We are engaging conversations that are appropriate in that context that until we have more to go on. There really isn’t much to go on here yet.”
Some students have indicated a preference for a grocer to take over the location, not CVS. Further, having a rewards program or other program set up with that grocer would be ideal for some students.
“It’d be genius for both Point Loma students and this potential grocer,” said Sophomore student Phillip Ward on the idea of building a relationship or set- ting up a rewards program with a future grocer. “Point Loma has thousands of people who need to buy groceries some- where and if they got incentives, that’s money in their pockets. And it’s super convenient for Point Loma students, especially freshman without cars, because they can just go down the street.”
University Staff member and Director of Outdoor Leadership Program Jonathan Morell lives in Ocean Beach and is also in support of a grocer buying the new space instead of CVS.
“You have to go to the complete other side of the Point for any reliable grocer” said Morell. “I think beyond just Point Loma, the OB community would be stoked for a grocer.”
As a staff member and running the Outdoor Leadership meetings and other events, Morell said, “It was super important for events when we didn’t
have something to get what we needed quickly.”
Like many others, Watkins said, “We’re waiting to see what the court decides” before officially making a stance on the situation’s outcome. But, Watkins does still hope for justice in this situation.
“We all have our concerns about our friends at Cabrillo” said Watkins. “I think as individuals and who we are as a community of faith here, has a concern.
We don’t want to see any injustice occur. That’s not an official University position, but just a recognition that that thread exists and there’s appropriate care to be taken for one of our neighbors. We also recognize that there’s a legal process and a bankruptcy process that has a whole different structure to all of that.”