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Craig McEwen, Published April 10 2009

Fargo's 13th Avenue Sunmart to close in May

Adjacent CVS will remain open; Walgreens plans out

An intriguing retail scenario is playing out at the intersection of 25th Street and 13th Avenue in south Fargo.

The Sunmart grocery store at 2401 13th Ave. S. will close May 8 after losing its lease.

The adjacent CVS pharmacy, which owns about

27 percent of the 50,000-square-foot building, will remain open.

Across the street, plans have been scrapped for a new Walgreens store that was to open this fall in the former Blockbuster video store at 2300 13th Ave. S., said Robert Elfinger, corporate spokesman.

Under state law, Walgreens can’t operate a pharmacy in North Dakota. An attempt to repeal the 40-year-old law requiring that pharmacies be majority owned by a pharmacist failed in the Legislature in February.

CVS operates pharmacies in North Dakota as a successor to the Osco Drug chain that was grandfathered in when the ownership law was passed in the 1960s.

It’s unknown if CVS plans to expand its pharmacy into the Sunmart space now that Walgreens won’t build across the street.

“There’s nothing to announce at this time,” said Mike DeAngelis, CVS spokesman in Woosocket, R.I.

“Our store will remain open and operating,” he said, acknowledging that CVS owns part of the Sunmart building. Jetco Properties Inc. owns the remaining 72 percent, according to city of Fargo records.

The building opened in 1975 as a Buttrey Food-Osco Drug Store. Buttrey was purchased in 1986 by Nash Finch.

Sunmart employees affected by the closure will be offered jobs in other Fargo-Moorhead Sunmart stores, said Brian Numainville, director of research and public relations for Nash Finch Co.

Sunmart operates stores at 3175 25th St. S. and 724 N. University Drive in Fargo, at 1100 13th Ave. S. in West Fargo, and at 2605 8th St. S. in Moorhead.

Elfinger said the Blockbuster site is on hold because Walgreens is scaling back growth and opening fewer stores in the next two years.

“This is just a store we decided that we’re not going to go through with at this time,” he said.

Construction continues on the new Walgreens store being built on the former Grandma’s Saloon and Grill site in Fargo, 4201 13th Ave. S. It is scheduled to open this summer.

A new Moorhead Walgreens store at 700 30th Ave. S. is also moving forward. “We’re looking to open that store in winter of 2010,” Elfinger said.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502