Friday, February 08, 2008

Why No Downtown Walgreens?

Since the closing of St. Louis Centre in 2006, downtown has been without a Walgreens. It once had two, the other being in the ground floor of the Century Building. As a downtown office worker, it was incredibly convenient to be able to pick up necessities or prescriptions just a short walk from the office.

An article in today's Business Journal outlines Walgreens' plans for growth in the St. Louis area and mentions that those plans do not include a downtown store.

My question is, why? With a growing residential population and relatively strong daytime and conventioneer/tourist populations, it makes perfect sense. While not necessarily an "exciting" or "upscale" retailer, Walgreens is the retailer that downtown needs the most.


JMedwick said...

I think the City stepped on some toes at Walgreen's when they were kicked out of both St. Louis Center and the Century Building.

The issue is far less that Walgreen's itself won't locate in downtown, but that Rite Aid or a similar competitor doesn't seem keen on moving in either.

zink said...

I know they are building one in soulard next to the 44 entrance.

My Question is, why cant CVS build one downtown? Competition people!

Anonymous said...

I am going to be returning to st. louis soon as a snowbird (living part time in Florida) and tho I am not relocating in downtown st. louis my question has been to those thinking of living in downtown st. louis is "where is the nearest Dierbergs?"
In regard to you query about a Walgreen's being in downtown St. Louis of course there should be one along with a lot of other stores that are easily accessible!

Brian said...

Well, the nearest Dierberg's to downtown is either the one at Watson and McKenzie (just outside the city limits) or at the Brentwood Promenade.

Downtown, there's City Grocers in the heart of the CBD (which may or may not be expanding) and talks of a Schnuck's going in at the Century Garage in Old Post Office Square. There's also going to be a new grocery store off Lafayette, across from the Georgian condos (City Hospital).

With regards to Walgreens, I always think about people visiting St. Louis from out of town - while City Grocers is a good place to pick up certain convenience items, people are familiar with Walgreens. They know what they can get there, and they know that if they need a prescription, they can get it there. There needs to be some sort of Walgreens (Rite Aid, Duane Read, CVS, etc.) in the heart of downtown for people who can't just jump in a car and drive to the new one planned for Lafayette Square.

Anonymous said...

YES! Downtown needs a Walgreens (my favorite!) or CVS or Rite Aid. I live and work downtown and wish I didn't need to get in my car as often as I do to do complete basic shopping needs. I do shop at City Grocery, but find their selection limited (and of course no pharmacy). I find it sad to walk past the abandoned City Centre building. It's a different city, but Milwaukee has brought their Grand Avenue downtown mall back from near extinction - I wish St Louis could do the same. I don't think building more Condos is the answer, which is what I understand will mostly be going in if the redevelopment goes through. I am supportive of demolition of the horrible build out over Washington and Locust - which create cavernous conditions at street level.

As a side note, when new grocery and walgreens do come to downtown, workers and residents need to shop there - even if prices are slightly higher. Supporting the businesses as they come back will provide energy for additional ones. I've heard other residents complain about $5 milk at City Grocery - but also complain that there are not more retailers. Hello! You need to support the current ones, before more will come!!

Is Schnucks moving into the syndicate building soon - or is that a rumor??

Brian said...

I've visited Milwaukee's downtown mall, and you're right, they've done a good job of bringing it back to life. They had the advantage of a historic shopping arcade (kind of a bigger version of our Arcade Building, IIRC) and more street level retail (although it's been a few years since I've been there, so my memory may be foggy). I know that they did end up putting condos and offices in their Marshall Field's building.

I do think that what Pyramid has proposed for St. Louis Centre and its surroundings - the Mercantile Exchange - will be more sustainable over the long haul though. The Laurel (Dillard's Building) condos seem to be selling well, and hopefully the Concord (mall) condos will as well. The new street level retail will be fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason Walgreens will not open a new store in downtown proper is because they now typically only build stores with drive-thru pharmacies in markets such as St. Louis (cities such as NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco that have long-standing retail and residential in urban settings are exceptions) . They no longer open stores in malls either so chances are that the store that at St. Louis Centre would have closed anyways at the end of it's lease but since the whole mall closed it was a get out of jail free card for their Real Estate/Leasing department.

As for other posts that called out to CVS, Rite Aid, and Duane Reade opening in downtown:

Duane Reade: Duane Reade is based in NYC and in a few NJ suburbs... doubtful they will open in St. Louis since they are a regional chain with 0% brand recognition unless you have lived in NYC. They have a lot of other cities to cover going west from NYC before they hit St. Louis.

Rite Aid: This chain is teetering on bankruptcy and many speculate that it will be a miracle if this chain is around by the end of 2009.
Besides, Rite Aid stores are awful and typcally have poor service and are known for selling expired food products AND expired prescription medication. You wouldn't even want them here. Many cities are happy to see them leave.

CVS: CVS is actually building it's first St. Louis store in Ellisville on Manchester at Clarkson right now! They have had stores over in towns in Metro East Illinios for sometimes. So now it looks like they are planning a quiet entry into St. Louis... BUT... they typically, like Walgreens, only want to build free-standing stores that can accomodate a drive-thru pharmacy.... but who knows... they may surprise us. And their stores are really nice!