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Goodbye, Pagoda. Hello, Pharmacy War

Tom Giffey

A legendary Eau Claire restaurant soon will be replaced by a brand-new drugstore. The Eau Claire Plan commission recently approved the construction of a 13,000-square-foot CVS Pharmacy at the northwest corner of South Hastings Way and Brackett Avenue on the site of the defunct Woo’s Pagoda restaurant. If you’re not geographically inclined, that happens to be kitty-corner from Walgreens (which, if the ads are to be believed, is actually “at the corner of Happy and Healthy” … but I digress).

Lest you think it’s a coincidence that the nation’s two largest pharmacy chains will soon find themselves in direct competition at this Eau Claire intersection, it isn’t: Such co-location is a widespread trend in the business. For instances, a 2012 Star Tribune article noted that many of the 55 CVS stores that had popped up in Minnesota were within the toss of a pill bottle from a Walgreens. “A lot of retailers do that,” explained Al Taft of AFT Real Estate, which is involved in the Eau Claire development. “It’s a good corner. There’s a good combination of rooftops and traffic.”

On May 5, the Plan Commission approved a site plan, rezoning the property, building a CVS sign, and the rerouting of nearby Donnellan Lane. (Those decisions were to go before the City Council for final approval as this issue was going to press.)

The project will involve the demolition of Woo’s (which most recently operated as the Red Parrot Lounge) and its landmark faux-Chinese architecture as well as two smaller office buildings. If all goes as planned, ground will be broken for the project this summer with completion expected sometime next spring.