WILDWOOD - Plastic palm trees outside a pharmacy might seem odd anywhere else, but in Wildwood the faux foliage will help the new Walgreens pharmacy at Hand Avenue and Park Boulevard fit right in.
The plastic palms and other design elements, including an oversized sign, harken back to the island's doo-wop past.
Doo-wop has come to describe the architectural style of the island's collection of 1950s and 1960s-era motels known for their exotic and futuristic names, angular roof lines, kidney-shaped pools and bold neon signs.
Walgreens agreed to adopt the style as it moved ahead with plans to build here, marking another victory in the ongoing campaign to link the island's doo-wop past with its future.
Dan MacElrevey, president of the Doo Wop Preservation League, called the store's look "neo doo-wop."
"Their buildings are all very standard, but they appreciated the culture," MacElrevey said.
Joshua Petersohn, a partner in Moreland Development LLC, worked with the company to bring the initial concept of a doo-wop-inspired Walgreens to reality.
His company owns the site where the store is located.
"We had to get an education in doo-wop," Petersohn said, explaining he received a copy of the preservation league's design book "How to Doo Wop" along with advice from the island's doo-wop specialists.
Several conceptual drawings were done, and with Walgreens approval, the design was next turned into reality.
The store is not slated to open until the end of this month, but the oversized sign, complete with red and blue stars and LED lighting, is already in place.
"It's a very different look for the community," Petersohn said.
He pointed to the city's main entrance along Rio Grande Avenue and the other businesses such as Wawa and the former Commerce Bank, now TD Bank, that have incorporated over-the-top doo-wop elements in their signs or building facades.
"It starts to give you a feeling that there's something different here, and it's neat to be a part of it," Petersohn said.
The city's development director, Lou Ferrara, said the city's master plan includes recommendations on how elements of doo-wop can play a part in new construction.
But he noted they are only suggestions.
"Everything we do is on a cooperative basis," Ferrara said of the city's efforts to encourage business owners to adopt doo-wop style. "The businesses get very enthusiastic about the idea."
MacElrevey pointed to the growing success of the doo-wop architecture bus tours and the continuing publicity doo-wop brings to the island from publications around the world as signs that doo-wop continues to deliver.
"We want people to see that it's successful," MacElrevey said. "The bottom line talks."
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