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Walgreens in downtown P.G.?

- Ground floor of Holman building may go to major retailer

By KELLY NIX

Published: January 22, 2010

THE FIRST floor of the Holman building in downtown Pacific Grove could become home to a Walgreens pharmacy — a large retailer that could bring a boost to local business, according to the city’s chamber of commerce.

Michael Adamson, former senior vice president of Monterey County Bank, was hired in September by the Pacific Grove Downtown Business Improvement District as a consultant to attract business to the city. There are at least 18 empty vacant storefronts downtown.

On Wednesday, Adamson and Holman building owner Nader Agha met with representatives who were in town scouting out locations for a major U.S. retailer. Though Adamson wouldn’t reveal the name of the chain store, it’s believed the reps were looking for a space for a new Walgreens.

The nearly three-hour meeting — which included “a lot of questions” and thorough inspection of the Holman building by the reps — went well, Adamson said. “I came away feeling pretty positive,” he said. “There was no real argument they came up with” against leasing the building.

The reps’ examination included the building’s electrical panels, heating system and elevators. The pair were satisfied with the parking lot at the rear of the building, Adamson said. “The major issue would probably be the cost of modifying the building and construction inside,” he said.

After the meeting, Adamson and Agha met with Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar and city manager Tom Frutchey to discuss related zoning issues, according to Adamson.

Agha’s plan for a 300-room hotel, which the developer has pursued for years, would still be possible even if the building’s first floor is leased to a retailer. Currently, the 60,000-square foot-space is occupied by antique dealers, a bank and a restaurant.

“[Agha] made it quite clear to these people that if they lease the space, he can adjust his plans,” Adamson said. “He has room.”

Adamson said the reps, who work for a site acquisition company working for the large retailer, told him it might be three months before they decide on the location.

Downtown Pacific Grove already has the independent Central Avenue Pharmacy one block over from the Holman building. The city also has a Rite Aid pharmacy, but it’s not downtown.

Adamson said he was forbidden to reveal the name of the company, but he said it is an Illinois-based retailer with 7,000 nationwide stores. Walgreens fits the description. “I shop at Walgreens at Monterey,” he said. “It’s the kind of store I would like to see in Pacific Grove. I’m not going to say ‘Yes, that’s the one, but I’m not going to say, ‘No.’”