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E.C. council to mull Walgreens permit

July 14, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

A Walgreens Drug Store has taken the next step to locate in El Centro.

The El Centro City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing Wednesday to consider approving a conditional-use permit for the location of a Walgreens at the northwest corner of Main Street and Imperial Avenue.

Chicago-based Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin said there is no signed lease yet.

"So it's not definite," he said.

Until the company actually purchases land or signs a lease the decision to build a store is not final, a previous spokeswoman said.

Any final decision by the company likely would be based on the requirement imposed by the city at the public hearing.

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Nevertheless, Polzin said a typical Walgreens that is open less than 24 hours a day employs 25 to 30 full-time and part-time people, and one that is open 24 hours a day typically employs 40-50. He also said a typical Walgreens new store investment costs about $3 to 4 million.

El Centro Mayor Cheryl Walker said Walgreens is welcome to the community.

"Apparently this is a clear indication that they are coming to town," she said Friday. "My preference would be to see a diversification of retail in the Imperial Valley, but we welcome Walgreens nonetheless. In terms of new businesses, I'm glad they're coming."

Walker and City Councilman Larry Grogan both lamented the loss of the site's current business, Four Seasons Buffet & Grill, because numerous service clubs use the restaurant as a gathering location.

"It's been a mainstay for the clubs to meet," Grogan said. "It's a unique restaurant that I'm sad to see is closing its doors."

The owner of Four Seasons could not be reached for comment.

The city's notice of the public hearing — scheduled to start between 7:45-8 p.m. — says the drug store building will occupy 14,490 square feet, be built on the north half of the property and have 58 parking spaces on the south and west sides, with access from Main and Imperial.

Meanwhile, the drug store would be across the street from a Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid Drug Store.

Rite Aid spokeswoman Sarah Datz said Rite Aid competes with Walgreens and other drug stores around the country.

"It's something we're used to," she said.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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