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Walgreens Receives Final OK from Birmingham City Commission

Commissioners approved special land use permit Monday night, opening the door for the drugstore chain to open a retail shop in the former Borders location on Woodward.

There are no more official barriers standing in the way of Walgreens' plans to open a drugstore in the former Borders location on Woodward Avenue.

At its Monday night meeting, the Birmingham City Commission voted unanimously to approve Walgreens' Special Land Use Permit for a drugstore at 34300 Woodward Ave., the former home of Borders before the store closed as part of .

Walgreens plans to transform the nearly 30,000-square-foot space, with an upscale pharmacy on the first floor and Walgreens' regional headquarters housed in a second-floor office space. There would also be a drive-thru lane for the pharmacy on the building's east side — the reason why plans required the Special Land Use Permit from the city.

It's been a long journey for Walgreens, which . Officials originally came before the Birmingham Planning Board on Dec. 14, looking for final site plan approval and a recommendation for a special land use permit. Planning Board members until their Jan. 4 meeting, when the .

Hours for the pharmacy, including the drive-thru lane, would be limited to 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Though the Planning Board originally expressed interest in having an entrance off Woodward, they later waived that requirement in favor of Walgreens' safety concerns.

"I congratulate Walgreens on an excellent plan," Mayor Pro-Tem George Dilgard said. "I hope you'll be good corporate citizens."

Still, just as the Planning Board heard from dissenters, several residents submitted letters to the commission expressing their distaste with Walgreens moving in.

"I am not opposed to Walgreens using the Borders building for corporate offices," Moses Fridman wrote in. "However, I think we have plenty of pharmacies in town, and adding another one won't improve our quality of life much, but will create more traffic, and will hurt the businesses already established."

Others raised doubts as to Walgreens' financial stability.

"It's broader than the issue of site plans, etc. and concerns the current fiscal state of Walgreens," Ellen Kock wrote in. "Wall Street is not looking very favorably at Walgreen Co. right now and they are projected to lose millions next year. How strong is their commitment to staying in Birmingham? Is this going to be another Borders?"

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