by Gail P. Montany
Rite Aid, a growing national drug store chain, has confirmed its choice of a St. Johnsbury car dealership's property for its new store here, pending approval by the planning and zoning boards over the next two weeks.
Thurston and Dimick Properties, the owner of the parcel at the corner of Route 5 and Hospital Drive on which Quality Motors now sits, has applied for a permit to construct a 11,180-square-foot commercial retail facility on one of two available lots, with space for 80-plus vehicles.
The owners of Quality Motors could not be reached for comment yesterday. Jodie Hartman, a spokeswoman for the Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid Corporation, said the company is aggressively pursuing properties in northern New England on which to build new "prototype" pharmacies, including the Quality Motors property
On its application for a conditional use permit, Thurston and Dimick Properties lists a starting date of October, although Hartman said until the permits are in hand, no construction date - nor even a proposed store - is actually official.
Quality Motors' present facility would be torn down to accommodate the proposed pharmacy, which would be constructed on a 75,150-square-foot lot. The other available lot on the Thurston and Dimick Properties parcel is 46,928 square feet, and if the conditional use and other permits are issued, can also accommodate a retail facility.
Hartman said Rite Aid operates 12 stores in Vermont and is looking to build more or to remodel or relocate others. She said Maine, with 92 stores at the present time, will get 25-30 more Rite Aids this year alone. In all, Rite Aid operates 3,623 pharmacies on the east and west coasts - including the recently purchased Thrifty Pay Less 50-store chain in California - and employs 73,000 people. Each prototype store provides jobs to about 15 local people.
"We make quite an investment in the community," said Hartman.
The new pharmacies, like the ones proposed for St. Johnsbury and Littleton, N.H., will feature a drive-through prescription service, a oneday photo service, and an expanded foods section, said Hartman.