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Rite Aid steps up commitment to urban development

Rite Aid steps up commitment to urban development

Lisa I. Fried

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid has long been a proponent of developing stores in urban areas that many other retailers ignore. Now, the chain is making an even bigger commitment to this type of activity: It plans to spend $230 million over the next two years to develop and upgrade stores in 85 economically depressed communities in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

After meeting with Vice President Al Gore and other business leaders in a special roundtable at the White House, Martin Grass, chairman and chief executive officer of Rite Aid, announced the company’s latest urban revitalization effort, which will include opening 37 new stores, relocating 73 stores and remodeling 17 stores. Details about the plans are not yet available.

Sound business decision

“For Rite Aid, it’s good business to do business in urban communities,” Grass said, noting that in many communities Rite Aid’s decision to open stores provides new opportunities for local pharmacists who did not think they could afford to keepserving the community. He added, “Our experience shows that stores in under-served urban areas are among our most successful ventures.”

This year alone, the chain has had a full plate in terms of urban revitalization efforts. Earlier this month, Grass hosted the grand opening of the first of 10 new stores planned for Detroit. The chain will spend $25 million to open these stores and another $3.5 million to renovate and remodel five stores in Detroit this year.

In January, Rite Aid opened its first new Los Angeles store, which is located in south Los Angeles. It will spend $55 million over the next year in the city of Los Angeles alone to open and remodel stores.

Grass recently committed to a project sponsored by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called The Anchor Program. The project entails developing commercial properties in economically challenged neighborhoods. Rite Aid will be the anchor store in a new commercial plaza under development in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and the chain is planning to open its second store in the Harlem section of New York.

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