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Highway 305 interchange drew interest for CVS pharmacy

Developers from Ohio weren’t the only ones who thought Bainbridge Island could use another large drugstore on High School Road.

The city’s hearing examiner recently approved the plan by Visconsi, an Ohio-based developer, for a new shopping center on High School Road that will be anchored by a Bartell Drugs store.

Documents released this week by the city, however, show that a Michigan-based development company approached Bainbridge officials last summer with plans for a 12,500-square-foot, 24-hour pharmacy on the southwest corner of Highway 305 that’s currently occupied by a Chevron gas station.

Last May, owners of the gas station purchased the closed 76 Station on the other side of High School Road for $1.2 million. There are now two Chevron stations on both sides of High School Road near the busy Highway 305 intersection.

The following month, in June 2013, according to city records, the Velmeir Companies, a development firm that counts as its clients CVS Pharmacy, the Home Depot, Dairy Queen and others, asked city officials for a predevelopment conference to discuss their plans for the property. The land is owned by Car Wash Enterprises, Inc. of Seattle.

Velmeir representatives said their proposal included a 24-hour pharmacy with a drive-through lane. Project officials also said the store would sell alcohol.

In a meeting with city planners on July 16, the developers were told the pharmacy would be permitted under the current zoning, but the site plan would require a review by the city’s planning commission. City officials noted the design of the project should consider including a pedestrian/bike trail along Highway 305, as well as bicycle parking spaces and landscaping. Officials also said the bear sculpture on the property could be removed during redevelopment of the site.

Velmeir officials had hoped construction could start in the first quarter of 2014. That said, it’s unclear if the property owner is still interested in redeveloping the gas station property. Representatives from Velmeir and Car Wash Enterprises did not immediately respond this week to requests for comment.

Velmeir has been busy building new pharmacies in the Puget Sound.

Last year, the city of Poulsbo approved Velmeir’s request to build a 19,000-square-foot development that included a CVS pharmacy and fast-food restaurant at Highway 305 and Hostmark Street.

The CVS would be the company’s second in Washington; construction has started on the first CVS pharmacy in Renton.

The prospect of another large drugstore on the island did come up late last year as the planning commission was reviewing the proposal for the Visconsi development.

In a private email to Planning Commissioner Jon Quitslund, Planning Commissioner Maradel Gale noted the prospects for a new drugstore on the gas station property as the two commissioners prepared a written report that would reject the Visconsi proposal. The email was obtained this week by the Review under a public records request for emails sent between planning commissioners about the controversial shopping center on their personal email accounts.

“Did you know the property where the gas station with the bears is located is going to be a big new pharmacy developed by some out of town chain (possibly CVS)? Good grief!” Gale wrote Quitslund in the email. “I think it is all about the liquor.”

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