Walgreens proposal back on the Cloquet horizonSouthgate Bowl owner Gerry Pollard said the Walgreens Corporation has been calling him for the past six years to express interest in purchasing his Doddridge Avenue site for the purpose of building a Walgreens store in Cloquet.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Southgate Bowl owner Gerry Pollard said the Walgreens Corporation has been calling him for the past six years to express interest in purchasing his Doddridge Avenue site for the purpose of building a Walgreens store in Cloquet. And though he is understandably guarded after a failed business deal between them in 2008, he admitted that the company’s most recent proposal is “a better agreement than I’ve ever had.”
“There’s no check in my hand yet,” Pollard added as a disclaimer, “so I still own it.”
Now, the city of Cloquet is set to hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Cloquet City Hall to solicit public comment on the site plan for the proposal.
Southgate Bowl Incorporated currently has a purchase agreement in place with Semper Development Ltd. for the construction of a Walgreens store in Cloquet, according to Holly Butcher, Cloquet community development director. She said a site plan review is required for the Walgreens’ redevelopment application, and the Highway 33 Design Standards must also apply if the proposal is to be approved. The property is zoned RC (Regional Highway Commercial).
The roughly 3.5 acres of land currently occupied by Southgate Bowl and located at 302 Doddridge Avenue fits the Walgreens’ building criteria, which calls for enough space for the construction of a building of approximately 14,500 square feet with 72 parking spaces, according to John Kohler of Semper Development. Kohler said the proposed building would actually require less blacktopped space than is currently on hand, so the plan would add more green space to the lot.
Kohler added that the proposed Walgreens store would be the company’s most up-to-date building design, complete with drive-through pharmacy and two defined areas for ingress and egress.
Both Pollard and Kohler indicated that if all goes well with the permitting process and the purchase agreement, the deal could be transacted in time to begin construction as early as this summer.
Pollard said he isn’t making any plans until then.
“Once I feel confident that it’s actually going to happen,” he said, “I’ll decide what to do next. I’ve been through this with them so many times before, as far as building another [bowling alley] building, it’s not a big deal. I’ll have to make a decision what to do at that time.”
Pollard further stated that he has shared all of this information with the current building tenant, Henagin’s Hideout, and given them the option whether to move or not at this time, and said it will be up to them.
In February 2008, extended negotiations between Pollard and Walgreens fell apart, just as he and his wife, Rose, were about to leave on vacation.
“It looked as though things were moving along pretty well,” said Pollard at the time, “but then the company decided they were not willing to pay the price I needed to get in order to rebuild the bowling alley somewhere else in town.”
At that point, Pollard made the decision to keep Southgate Bowl operating in its current location, though building tenants Denny’s Studio and Southgate Pizza proceeded with plans to relocate.
The hearing on the latest Walgreens’ site proposal will be conducted by the Cloquet Planning Commission at its regular meeting on Feb. 28. People wishing to comment on the proposal may do so in person at the hearing, or in writing by addressing their comments to the Community Development Department, 1307 Cloquet Ave., Cloquet, prior to the hearing. Site plan materials are available online at www.ci.cloquet.mn.us.
Walgreens currently has 150 stores in the state of Minnesota, and 7,818 in the United States. Two new stores are currently under construction in Duluth, and another was opened on Miller Trunk Highway a couple of years ago.