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Editorial: City should stick to its guns over Walgreen's

Editorial: City should stick to its guns over Walgreen's

How to deal with Schenectady's drugstore dilemma

The city of Schenectady doesn’t seem to be in much of a rush to accommodate the developers of yet another drugstore at the intersection of State Street and Brandywine Avenue — nor should it be. The idea is crazy, as the long-vacant Eckerd’s building diagonally across the street from Rite Aid indicates.

Still, if the people from Walgreen’s insist on trying to locate on that corner, directly across from Rite Aid next to the old Fratello’s Restaurant, the city must at least ensure that the store conforms to new design standards in a comprehensive plan that has been years in the works and is ready to be passed by the city council.

The city needs to at least make sure that if it can’t stop Walgreen’s from making the same mistake Eckerd’s made in 2000 — building one large chain drugstore right across the street from another — the building it puts up isn’t as ugly and unadaptable as Eckerd’s was. Then if the store does go out of business at some point in the future, the building won’t sit vacant indefinitely (as Eckerd’s has now for three years).

What would help immeasurably would be if Walgreen’s is made to abandon the typical suburban-style drugstore building design — with large pole sign, parking lot out front, drive-in window and store set back well off the road.

Apparently the only interest in a building of that sort is from another drugstore chain: Walgreen’s, in fact, tried to buy the old Eckerd’s but Rite Aid beat it to the punch — buying it last fall just to make sure it wouldn’t end up in the hands of a competitor.

Of course, the chances are good if the city sticks to its guns on design issues that Walgreen’s will not want to locate there. That may hurt the city in terms of short-term tax revenues, but eventually an even better use for that space is likely to come along.

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