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Walgreens sets sights on plaza

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 16, 2011
  • Longboat Key
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Walgreens could be eyeing Whitney Beach Plaza, according to a quarterly report sent by Town Manager Bruce St. Denis to commissioners.

The Jan. 31 report states: “Quasi-judicial discussions have been held in regard to the development of Whitney Beach Plaza with the possibility of a Walgreens anchoring the site.”

According to the report, the Bank of America surplus parking site has also been identified as a potential Walgreens location. However, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the Planning and Zoning Board at its Feb. 15 regular meeting that she has not heard from Walgreens regarding development of the Bank of America property for a drugstore since late 2009.

Brian Kenney, principal of the Boston-based Juliani Kenney Investment Capital LLC, which purchased the plaza with liquid assets for $3.7 million in December 2010, declined to comment about the possibility of Walgreens anchoring the 35,000-square-foot shopping center. He said that his company is currently waiting to go before the real-estate committee of a potential anchor tenant, which he estimates will occur in March, although the company is open to other possibilities for the anchor site. However, Kenney did say that a pharmacy is his company’s top choice for the 12,000-square-foot location previously occupied by the Market and Whitney Beach Deli & Wines.

“There’s a need for it on that side of the island,” Kenney said. “Between the two CVSes (on Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach), you’ve got 10 miles. That’s a long 10 miles.”

A spokesman at Walgreens’ corporate office declined to comment Wednesday.

Kenney said that his company has met with at least five or six potential tenants who are interested in opening a variety of businesses in the plaza, including a start-up bakery and coffee shop, apparel store, bank and luxury residential real-estate rental company, all of which have locations on the mainland.
However, the company will wait to secure an anchor before entering into lease agreements with other tenants, in part because the anchor tenant will play a large role in determining rent prices. Most current tenants plan to stay in the plaza for now.

Major exterior renovations of the anchor site could begin by April, Kenney said, and the anchor site could open early next year. Smaller tenants that plan on doing their own interior build-outs could move in shortly after securing leases.

Finding long-term tenants will be key to the plaza’s success, Kenney said. He is looking for an anchor tenant that will enter into a 20-year lease and leases of at least 10 years for other tenants.

“Ideally, we want to bring in businesses that will build their own businesses, build a client base and help Whitney Beach Plaza to flourish,” Kenney said.

Irina LaRose, co-owner of Design 2000, said she is pleased with the possibility of a Walgreens coming to the plaza.

“We’re certainly very hopeful and very positive,” LaRose said. “Anything of that caliber would help bring in traffic.”

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]



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