CENTRAL POINT — At the heart of an area long targeted for revitalization, a long-standing, self-serve gas station at the corner of Front and Pine streets will soon make way for the city's first large retail development in more than a decade.
The card-activated fuel station owned by the Grange Co-Op will be demolished in the coming weeks to make room for the Rogue Valley's third Walgreens location since 2007.
While the chain boasts more locations than even Walmart — just under 8,100 drug stores in the U.S. compared to some 4,000 Walmart stores — city officials said Walgreens representatives have been easy to work with and are accommodating of existing businesses and the city's small-town feel.
Community Development Director Tom Humphrey said the 14,000-square-foot store's design — which will have the appearance of multiple storefronts — will have more curb appeal than is typical for the chain's other locations in the region.
Humphrey said store design was being customized so it will meet the city's transit-oriented design standards and complement nearby artisan-style shops such as the Lillie Belle Farms chocolate shop and Rogue Creamery.
"The store is designed to be architecturally different every 25 to 30 feet and has more of a downtown feel, with tree wells in front and street lights," Humphrey said.
"We're discussing added landscaping to soften the masonry exterior, and some of our Planning Commission members have talked about possibly some creeping vines on the building itself."
Humphrey also hoped to encourage the retail chain to opt for a less-contemporary sign, possibly mirroring a vintage design used for a San Antonio, Texas, store that boasts neon lights and a simple logo.
"The chain does have some older, more retro, neon-style signs. Whether we can get the company to come up with a more nostalgic look is something I'll kind of be lobbying for," Humphrey said. "I think it might just depend on whether it stays within their budget."
Walgreens real-estate representatives did not return calls Friday seeking comment, and Grange Co-Op officials declined to be interviewed.
City Administrator Chris Clayton said the new retail store would be a plus for citizens and nearby medical offices, and would provide a boost for downtown after more than a decade of record-low commercial development.
"If Asante builds a facility similar to the one Providence has, Walgreens would be right between the two medical facilities, and with retirement facilities in Twin Creeks, there's some pretty good business alignment," Clayton said.
"Walgreens has been great to work with, and we're excited about the store. We think that one big commercial development going in just might get some momentum going."
Clayton said plans call for construction to begin soon, with the store possibly opening for business by year's end.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org