In less than two years, if all goes as planned, Rim country residents will be able to pick up their prescriptions at the drive-through window of a brand new Walgreens Drug Store.
The free-standing store, to be built on the southwest corner of the intersection of Highway 87 and Longhorn Road, will be more than 15,000 square feet, said Michael Polzon, Walgreens corporate spokesperson. In addition to the drive-through pharmacy, Polzon said the store will be stocked with convenience-oriented features, including an expanded convenience food center.
The current Walgreens store in Payson Village Shopping Center has 13,000 square feet of selling space, store manager Cliff Wilembrecht said.
Phil Bolbuc of Walgreens' corporate real estate division said the new store will be similar to the stand-alone prototype the company has developed and is building around the country. "It's the latest and greatest of our prototype stores," Bolbuc said. "It comes complete with a host of convenience features, including an open-front refrigeration cooler, a bigger and better photo department, wider aisles, better lighting and more convenient parking."
The developer for the project, Evergreen-Beeline Limited Partnership, is a Phoenix-based company that has built a number of Walgreens stores in Arizona, Washington, and California. Daniel Morris, who is spearheading the project for Evergreen-Beeline, said the drive-through pharmacy is a hot concept for Walgreens.
"It's generating 65 percent of the company's profits," he said. "It's really been popular with seniors."
The 1.8-acre site on the corner of Longhorn and Beeline, where the Hopi House shops, Payson Vita-Health Foods and the old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant are located, is currently in escrow. And although rumors are circulating that the developers are still scouting local store locations, Bolbuc said that is the site where the developers plan to build.
"I think those rumors got started because some property owners keep telling people they want Walgreens to build on their land," he said. "We are absolutely committed to this location."
"As long as we're in escrow, there's always a chance that something could happen," Morris added. "But we certainly don't anticipate any serious problems."
One of the first obstacles the developers must overcome is a zoning decision regarding landscaping requirements for the proposed site. Evergreen-Beeline's first application was rejected because it would have left only two trees standing after the buildings on the site were razed, Rudy Frost, town zoning administrator, said.
Evergreen-Beeline will appeal that decision during a 4 p.m. public hearing Monday, Sept. 18, in the council chambers at Town Hall.
According to Frost, the construction of a hotel on the western portion of that location has been discussed and may be proposed.
"That site is made up of a conglomeration of eight or nine properties," he said, "and I really can't comment until we have an application."
Morris said he didn't think the zoning appeal would prove to be a serious stumbling block for the Walgreens project.
"There are a lot of dates involved and a couple of tenants currently on the site, but our projection is to open the doors in 18 to 24 months, he said."
Wilembrecht welcomed the news.
"I knew we were doing something, but I didn't know how far along the project was," he said. "This is great news for me, and for the whole community."