Drug store, restaurant close in Five Points

A window sign announces the departure of Rite Aid from Five Points.
A window sign announces the departure of Rite Aid from Five Points.

The Rite Aid drugstore in Five Points, one of the best-known locations in that village business district, is vacant for the first time in decades, but developers said Monday that prospects for finding a new tenant soon look good.

Also, Qdoba, the Mexican chain restaurant on Saluda Avenue in Five Points, closed its doors just over a week ago, and it is unclear what the prospects are for a new business soon at that location.

Brown paper covered the windows at the former restaurant that sits just outside the doors of the 14,000-square-feet Walgreens.

Rite Aid’s lease was about to end, a point when higher rentals often are negotiated, said commercial realtor Robin Dial II of Dial Real Estate, the property’s lessor.

“Rite Aid has been there an awfully long time,” Dial said. “They gave us notice a few months back their store was not doing as well as they wanted it to. They cited, of course, the new Walgreens in Five Points – that’s the obvious answer.”

At the same time, Dial said Rite Aid also did not appear to be putting any investment into the 818 Harden St. location, either, to beautify or make the business spot more appealing to customers. Dial said he thinks Rite Aid Corp.’s $3.4 billion acquisition of the Eckerd and Brooks drugstore chain in 2007 is the ultimate cause the Five Points store closed on April 11.

That deal included $1.45 billion in cash and paid out the former Eckerd owners and the assumption of $850 million of Eckerd’s parent company’s debt.

“When Rite Aid corporate purchased Eckerd, they got a company that wasn’t doing 100 percent – that’s why Eckerd was for sale,” Dial said. “They were failing. And I think it just took a long (time) for it to catch up to the store – they’ve closed lots of stores nationally to try and trim themselves down and recover from that sour purchase.”

Efforts to reach Rite Aid officials were unsuccessful on Monday. A sign on the door referred pharmacy customers to the Rite Aid location along Rosewood Drive to pick up prescriptions.

“I hate to see it leave,” said Charlie Dunlap, who works at Gregory’s Electric, just behind the former Rite Aid store. “It was just a convenient place to shop. Rite Aid was a part of this community and I thought it was well supported by college kids, the housing around here.”

There has been robust interest in the space since Rite Aid’s closure, ranging from retail to restaurants, Dial said. Speculation has centered around a Dollar General Store or a Family Dollar store for the location, but Dial said conversations with those two companies are no longer active.

Also, no bar or nightclub businesses have approached the leasing company about the 8,750-feet structure.

One of the former drugstore’s major amenities is the 32-space surface parking lot that comes with it, Dial said. The deepest discussions about the property are with a “retail group,” Dial said.

Qdoba Mexican Grill closed on May 9 after about five years. One of the restaurant’s co-owners, Phil Salisbury, declined comment Monday.

Reach Burris at (803) 771-8398