The Petaluma Health Care District is teaming up with a Walnut Creek-based developer to build a Walgreens on a piece of land it owns across from Petaluma Valley Hospital.
If approved, rent from the development could bring in an extra $200,000 to $250,000 a year to support the district's community-based health initiatives.
The project calls for a 14,500-square-foot Walgreens to be built on the district's vacant parcel on the corner of Lynch Creek Way and North McDowell Boulevard — next to the Friedman's-anchored shopping center expected to open next spring. The proposed Walgreens would have a 24-hour drive-up pickup window for prescriptions. An additional 7,500-square-feet of commercial space would be built, though no tenants have been determined. The Health Care District, which has owned the undeveloped parcel for approximately 30 years, has been working on the project for the past three years.
"This community does not have a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week pharmacy," said Ramona Faith, CEO of the Petaluma Health Care District. "Having something like that so close to the hospital is something this area could really use."
According to Rick Nadale, controller for the Petaluma Health Care District, Walnut Creek developer Browman Development Company will put up money for the initial cost of the project. Nadale said the district is conservatively estimating that it will receive an additional $200,000 to $250,000 in rental revenue if the development is built. Should the city not approve the project, the district would lose about $40,000 in planning costs.
Nadale said that developing the property is a sound business decision for the Health Care District. The district's profit-sharing arrangement would guarantee it 6 percent of the revenue from monthly rental fees, plus an additional 40 percent of any profits the developer makes.
The district, which has owned the property outright for more than three decades, determined that the ongoing revenue from rentals would benefit the organization much more than an initial payout from selling the parcel to a developer.
Jim Stephens of Browman Development Company said that the firm hopes to start construction some time this year if the city approves the project. However, the land is currently zoned for a business park and would require an amendment to the city's General Plan before it could be approved.
Another hurdle for the project to clear is a city ordinance banning drive-through windows. The developer contends that the window proposed for the Walgreen's pharmacy is different from the drive-throughs the city has banned.
"We're talking about a pickup window," said Stephens. "It's very similar to the grocery pickup people do at Safeway and Raley's grocery stores. You place your order ahead of time and drive up to the window to pick up your prescription. You aren't idling in your car for long periods of time. It's a service that helps those who are ill, or have children, get the medications they need quickly and be on their way."
Stephens said that the proposal's initial environmental study will be circulated to the public within the next few weeks. The developer did not conduct a full environmental impact report because planners determined that the relatively small-scale project didn't require one.
Heather Hines, who works in the city's Planning Department, said that the initial environmental study for the project was released for public review on May 9. It is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on May 28.