Beyond Retail

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Is the Craze about to end? And what's with Walgreen's and the Drive-Thru?

(Not to turn away from the Golden Triangle gossip and enter the realm of, but this story is just a mile or two away in Saxonville.)

Is Video Craze leaving the "North Framingham Plaza"? It appears so, as a 4,500 sq. ft. parcel with "good signage" is for lease from Framingham-based Gordon Real Estate. Outside of the Walgreens (which we all know is staying on), do any of the other tenants have anything close to 4,500 sq. ft.? I think not. Gordon Real Estate also lists a 425 sq. ft. parcel for lease; no idea what that is.

The Walgreens expansion at the North Framingham Plaza, which will force several local businesses out so that the pharmacy can put in a drive-thru, makes little sense to me. I have no issue with kicking the businesses, and I understand that Walgreens needs a drive-thru. The question to me is why are they staying there?

As you all probably know, the long-abandoned ServiStar lumber yard sits just a hundred feet or so from the existing Walgreen's. Think: Walgreens could build a brand-new, larger, full service pharmacy right at the corner of School and Concord streets, and there'd be plenty of room for a drive-thru pharmacy.

As long as Walgreens made the store look like someone's house, I can't imagine that the town would put up much of a fight: the site has been little more than Saxonville's largest parking lot for the past 15 years or so, and it's too small for anything other than a pharmacy. I believe there are wetlands on the fringes of the property, but the store would go nowhere near them. Traffic counts couldn't possibly increase; it would just be redirecting cars a few more feet down School Street. And with "The Villages at Danforth Farms" on track to be built eventually, the client base is only going to rise, and what Walgreens offers to them now in the low-profile North Framingham Plaza just doesn't impress.

It's Walgreens choice, and it looks like they're staying put. But that doesn't mean that the parking lot will remain forever: if Hannaford indeed razes the Nobscot Shopping Center to build a new store, CVS is going to have to move... and Saxonville has just the perfect spot.


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