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Walgreens to open a new-concept store in Porter Square

Posted by Brock Parker  March 16, 2012 03:06 PM

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A two-story Walgreens in the style of the drugstore chain's new concept of stores is slated to open in the Porter Square Galleria in Cambridge early next year. It will be housed on the White Street side of the building (left) at Somerville Avenue. Photo by Brock Parker.

Already planning a large flagship-type store in Boston’s Downtown Crossing, drugstore chain Walgreens is also preparing to open a new-concept, two-story location in Cambridge’s Porter Square.

Walgreens, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., will open in the Porter Square Galleria at 1 Porter Square early next year in space formerly occupied by Blockbuster Video and currently occupied by Pier 1 Imports and Kool Smiles dentists.

The drugstore chain said that the Porter Square location is designed as part of its new store concept that was rolled out in Indianapolis earlier this year seeking to transform the traditional drugstore into a health and daily living store.

The Porter Square location will offer fresh food, including produce and wrapped sandwiches, as well as a “Look Boutique” with an expanded selection of beauty products, said Robert Elfinger, a spokesman for the company.

While the store is part of Walgreen’s new concept, Elfinger said it will not offer as many amenities as the 24,000 square-foot store opening this fall in the Downtown Crossing space vacated by Borders.

“The location in Cambridge is more of a new store format that we’ve rolled out in the Chicago area and the Indianapolis market,” Elfinger said. “The one in downtown Boston is more of a flagship location [that is] a little bit larger with a little bit more to offer.”

Kambiz Shahbazi, the president and founder of KS Partners, which owns the Porter Square Galleria, said his company has been working for more than a year to lease the space to Walgreens. The store will be across White Street from a CVS, but with the new store format Shahbazi said he believes Walgreens will give the neighboring drugstore some good competition.

“I think that Walgreens is going to be a game-changer for the entire area,” Shahbazi said.

Shahbazi said the leases for Pier 1 Imports and Kool Smiles are being terminated, and KS Partners is also in talks with restaurants and other retailers interested in moving into two floors of space formerly occupied by Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar and Grill.

Among the type of restaurants that may be interested in the space are an ice cream and yogurt business.

“We want to make sure it is the right tenant,” Shahbazi said.

Elfinger said the new concept for the Walgreens includes increased access to the drugstore’s pharmacist, who will be stationed at a table in front of the pharmacy.

The drug store chain is also seeking a variance before the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeal Thursday, March 22, at 9:15 p.m. for an illuminated Walgreens sign at the Porter Square location.

--brock.globe@gmail.com

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