We need more pharmacies

Apr 27, 2024 | by

This map shows the area pharmacies and a one mile radius around them. Looks pretty bleak along Richmond Highway, right? Even worse – the Rite Aid at Hull and Cowardin is closing in May.

A recent conversation about the lack of grocery stores and the resulting food desert in South Richmond brought up the similar lack of pharmacies in a broad area. With many grocery stores also hosting pharmacies (but not all of them), the two issues are hand-in-hand.

What would it take to get a CVS or Walgreens along Richmond Highway? Conventional wisdom says more people with more income. It doesn’t feel like trying to gentrify our way to better service is the track to lean into, though.

One thought on “We need more pharmacies”

  1. Last fall, I was looking for some over-the-counter medications and started driving down Cowardin/Richmond Highway from Semmes and was stunned that after Hull/Cowardin, the next place I found was Rte.1, south of Rte 10 in Chesterfield…a 12 mile stretch! I immediately though to myself “where does everybody go for prescriptions and other items?” Holy-Moly…

    We did a lot of thinking about this during Richmond 300 and how the existing bleak commercial corridor’s “landscape” could change to attract uses that weren’t related to auto repair, industrial uses, or fast-food restaurants. It’s a challenge that while the corridor is fairly long, is pretty shallow. And a lot of the land that flanks Richmond Highway is industrial so opportunities for more residential development that could support a drug store are limited.

    This may be a bit heretical, but development pattern and history of Route 1 is perhaps a poster child of really bad “mixed-use” that may have worked when people walked to work in the past, but is a real challenge now.

    That said, there may be a way to get someone interested in the soon-to-be-vacant Rite Aid site, but it will take some leg work. Site selection firms (and corporate real estate) look at readily available data from site consultants and if you don’t meet certain metrics you are eliminated. Maybe there is something that is happening in the area that would be of interest that isn’t showing up in the programs put out by ESRI or others…

    I would suggest if there is a commercial real estate broker that works in your area who could sit down with you all for a bit to talk about what drug stores look for in a location could give some insight to the market and its relative attractiveness to drug stores.

    Glad to see there are folks thinking about this, and sorry for the closing of Rite Aid. When I was a kid growing up in Ohio it was THE drug store. Amazing how things can change.

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