Walgreens coming to Steamboat

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One of the nation's largest retailers of pharmaceuticals, personal care products and household supplies is planning a Steamboat Springs location.

A 14,820-square-foot Walgreens store figures prominently in plans recently submitted to the city for development at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road. The store would be one of several buildings to be built immediately across U.S. 40 from Ski Haus in a development called Steamboat Crossing North.

Jim C. Hansen of Old Town Realty confirmed last week that Walgreens is the intended anchor tenant for the development. Hansen is the leasing agent for THF Steamboat Crossing Development LLC, a subsidiary of Saint Louis-based THF Real Estate, the company that is building the Central Park South commercial addition.

Walgreens is a publicly traded retail giant that operates 4,681 stores, including 92 in Colorado. Known primarily as a pharmacy chain, Walgreens sells merchandise such as milk, disposable diapers, candy and cordless telephones.

THF had submitted a site plan to the city Planning Department reflecting two other commercial buildings, an office building and a drive-through restaurant. However, the tentative site plan was abandoned last week after a preliminary meeting with city officials. Hansen said the number of buildings eventually built in Steamboat Crossing North could be revised as a result of adjustments to be made in response to last week's meeting.

Assistant Planning Director Tim McHarg said the developers are being asked to make changes to the way the Walgreens building, the tentative restaurant building and related parking areas address Pine Grove Road and U.S. 40. The site borders Fish Creek, a factor that raises floodplain issues, and McHarg said it would be desirable if the development led to a pedestrian connection across the creek.

The size of the proposed Walgreen's building would make it subject to Steamboat's new "big-box ordinance" which requires that new buildings greater than 12,000 square feet offer some form of public benefit in order to qualify for a development permit.

The Steamboat Crossing North site is occupied by a small building that houses United Country Allied Realty and two other businesses. THF purchased that building from owner Martin Grosjean in November and plans to demolish it to make room for the new development.

Grosjean said his real estate agency and the other tenants are making relocation plans for next spring.

"I'm pleased with how things turned out," Grosjean said. "Negotiations with the Kroenke group went well."

Grosjean was referring to Stan Kroenke, who is one of the principals in THF Real Estate with Michael Staenberg. Kroenke owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Denver's Pepsi Center and Altitude Sports & Entertainment TV network, among other investments.

Walgreens has been adding more than 400 new stores a year since 2000, according to its corporate Web page. At the same time, it has enjoyed double-digit growth rates in annual sales. Company sales in the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31 were $37.5 billion.

Walgreens has expanded its convenience-food section in recent years, and freestanding stores such as the one proposed for Steamboat offer drive-through pharmacies. The pharmacies are linked nationwide through a satellite system. Almost all Walgreens stores offer one-hour photo finishing.

Hansen said THF would like to begin construction on Steamboat Crossing early this summer, if it can acquire the necessary city permits. If the developer has to wait until late summer or early fall, it will delay the project until 2006.

THF owns and operates more than 18 million square feet of property, primarily retail shopping centers. Large concentrations of THF commercial centers are in Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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