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Walgreens eyes Martinsburg site

May 01, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Walgreens, one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, hopes to open its first store in the Tri-State area in about a year as part of an effort by the Deerfield, Ill., company to establish a presence here, according to a company spokesperson.

The Martinsburg Planning Commission is scheduled Wednesday to consider a site plan application for a 14,788-square-foot store with 76 parking spaces at the intersection of Edwin Miller Boulevard and the proposed extension of North Raleigh Street. The Commission meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Robert Statkiewicz, president of Red Leaf Development & Investment Associates Inc., said the proposed store would not likely open until next year, given the need for a substantial amount of site work.

"We've been working (to find a location) in your town for a couple years," Statkiewicz said.

In August 2004, a proposal for a Walgreens store near the West King Street and Old Mill Road intersection was denied by Martinsburg City Council, which denied a rezoning request for the site. Statkiewicz said another potential site along Edwin Miller Boulevard also fell through.

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The current proposal for the northern end of Martinsburg would feature a drive-through, 24-hour service and is directly across from a CVS, a competing national drugstore chain.

"If you measure it one way, they're No. 1. If you measure it another way, CVS is," Statkiewicz said.

Walgreens corporate spokeswoman Carol Hively said the Martinsburg location would be the fourth in West Virginia, if approved.

The first store opened in Morgantown, W.Va., last summer and plans for stores in Elkins, W.Va., in Randolph County and Beaver, W.Va., in Raleigh County are moving forward, Hively said.

"We're just starting to really expand in your area," Hively said.

Given the increased demand for pharmacy services among the aging baby boomer generation, Hively said Walgreen Co. is opening new stores every 18 or 19 hours.

"It's a good time to be in the drugstore business," Hively said.

Walgreen Co. reported fiscal 2006 sales of $47.4 billion, with 5,675 stores in 48 states and Puerto Rico, including 77 Happy Harry's drugstores in Delaware and surrounding states, according to a company profile. Each store employs 25 to 30 people and averages $8.5 million in annual sales.

Statkiewicz said Red Leaf Development has played a leading role in the construction of more than 30 Walgreens, from Scranton, Pa., to Portsmouth, Va., including one about to open in Stephens City, Va.

He said the company has tried to find a feasible site for a Walgreens in Charles Town, W.Va., but increasing real estate prices have been a deterrent, at least for now.

"We just couldn't get anything put together," he said.

The company is looking for sites in Winchester, Va., and Hagerstown, Statkiewicz said.

Last month, Chambersburg, Pa., officials said they were asked to rezone a 2.6-acre parcel in the 900 block of Lincoln Way East to allow for a Walgreens. A public hearing has been set for May 14 on the request.

The proposed Martinsburg location is part of the Destiny Pointe development, a 33-acre project of Destiny Baptist Church, also of Martinsburg.

Church leaders have sold a portion of the land for construction of a U.S. Coast Guard facility. Though not available for comment Monday, the Rev. Carl Que Dickerson has said church leaders also planned to build a 1,500-seat sanctuary as part of the development because their current church at 115 Raleigh St. is too small for a growing congregation. Services have been held at Martinsburg High School.

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