Drug stores expand reach

October 06, 2010 03:30PM

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New York City’s local supermarket chains have new competition: the local drug store.

There was once a time when your neighborhood pharmacy was just a place to fill a prescription, buy and develop photography film, and purchase health and beauty aids, snacks, cigarettes and candy, and in certain locations, even a lottery ticket.

Fast-forward to today, when these have been replaced by the mixed-use mega-convenience store, great for people who live far from a supermarket, or need to get to the store at non-traditional hours.

Leading the charge in the super convenience store pharmacy is New York’s largest chain of drug stores, Duane Reade, with more than 250 in the metro area (plus 70 Walgreens). The subsidiary of America’s largest pharmacy chain Walgreens is following the lead of its parent, with greatly expanded fresh food offerings and an expanded food section comprising more than 40 percent of the square footage of the store.

This year, four 24-hour mega stores have opened in Manhattan including the 13,944-square-foot flagship store in Union Square, in the former home of Virgin Records.

This store, the chain’s largest, as well as the Chelsea one at 16th Street and Eighth Avenue, which opened in March, i a ton of services and foods. There are walk-in medical centers, a dedicated food section with everything from sushi and sandwiches to fresh baked breads, cheese section, a self service Starbucks coffee bar, along with a refrigeration section featuring to-go meals and a station for cut fruits, oatmeal, cut vegetables and premade salads and sandwiches.

The other two new Duane Reades are at 225 Lafayette Street and 57th Street and Third Avenue.

Next year, Lower Manhattan will officially become the home of the largest Duane Reade at Trump’s 40 Wall Street. The chain signed a 20-year lease for the approximately 23,310 square feet two-story space, marking one of this year’s largest downtown leases.

One thing is certain, competition will be keen in this marketplace with the second largest pharmacy, CVS, which has approximately 120 stores in the metro region, recently announcing the planned renovation of many of its stores to include expanded grocery and fresh foods department.

Michael Stoler is a columnist for The Real Deal and host of real estate programs “The Stoler Report” and “Building New York” on CUNY TV and on WEGTV in East Hampton. His radio show, “The Michael Stoler Real Estate Report,” airs on 1010 WINS on Saturdays and Sundays. Stoler is a director at Madison Realty Capital as well as an adjunct professor at NYU Real Estate Institute, and a former contributing editor and columnist for the New York Sun.