CVS Pharmacy sets sights on NWA (updated)

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

One of the largest pharmacy chains in the country – CVS Corporation – recently met with city planning officials in Bella Vista about a proposed 13,225 square-foot store location along Highway 71, near Dartmoor Road.

Chris Suneson, city planning director, said earlier this month the commission approved a large-scale commercial development that would replace the two buildings now in use by Decker Eye Clinic and Mac’s Get & Go, a convenience store and gas station. He said the deal would mean Timothy Harrell and Mac's Investment Group who owns both properties will have to sell to CVS.

Suneson said CVS wants that location because of its proximity to the large new Mercy Clinic under construction around the corner. He said the proposed plan widens Dartmoor with a designated right turn lane into the CVS site which would occupy the entire corner with a retail store and 70 parking places.

CVS did not return four phone messages left over the past week, but the retailer has said publicly it will continue expanding its square footage by 3% this year. CVS opened 37 new retail drugstores and closed nine in the first quarter of this year. In addition, the company relocated 15 retail drugstores and had 7,531 locations in 45 states as of March 31.

Arkansas would be a new market for CVS, but the retailer is heavily invested in all of Arkansas’ border states. There is one CVS pharmacy in Texarkana, Ark., and Bella Vista would be the retailer’s second location in the Natural State.

On Monday (July 22) Fayetteville's planning commissioner approved plans for a CVS Pharmacy at  College Avenue and Township Street on the site of the Days Inn motel. LIke with the proposed site in Bella Vista, demolition will be necessary before CVS can build.

CVS has six months to obtain a building permit for the proposed development, according to Suneson. But first, the company will have to purchase the property from Harrell’s group.

Harrell opened Mac’s Get & Go two years ago and began selling beer and wine this spring after the country’s “wet” vote in last November’s general election. He received a liquor store permit last week by the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control, and he told The City Wire on Monday (July 22) he was still weighing all of his options about where to put the new store.

Mac’s Get & Go also sells fuel, so Harrell can’t move the liquor store into that location because of the tanks out front. State law prohibits liquor stores from also selling fuel. He told the commission last week that he would either remove the pumps or build a separate facility. He hopes to be selling liquor within 90 days.

Harrell was the only liquor permit approved in the city of Bella Vista last week – a town of about 27,000, according to Census data.

Two other liquor permit applicants were declined because of their proximity to churches. Bella Vista has limited commercial space along U.S. 71, but there are a few other options for Harrell’s group if they do decide to sell out to CVS.

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The site that Wal-Mart hoped to acquire for a Neighborhood Market, just two blocks to the north of Mac’s Get & Go, is still for sale. That property is owned by Betty Garcia and zoned for a small scale commercial development such as a liquor store.

Bella Vista Alderman Jerry Snow said the proposed CVS development timing is in sync with the Harrell obtaining a liquor permit and it will be interesting to see what his investment group decides to do – sell out and rebuild or stay put and renovate.

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