Drugstore Corridor

Walgreens bringing another store to East Memphis

By Amos Maki

Walgreen Co. is building a new store on Poplar Avenue in East Memphis amid some of the most important and valuable commercial real estate in the city.

Bud Cornelius of Mid Continent Labs probes weak soil on the site of a future Walgreens store at the corner of Poplar Avenue and White Station Road.  

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

The nation’s largest drugstore chain plans on replacing its Ike’s location inside Eastgate Shopping Center with a new store at Poplar and White Station Road, continuing the company’s infatuation with the Poplar corridor.

From Poplar and Cleveland Street in Midtown and reaching to Collierville, Walgreens stores now stretch like a daisy chain along Poplar. The new store will be the fourth Walgreens from just west of Highland Avenue to Massey Road, a stretch of roughly six miles.

“Poplar Avenue is a major retail corridor and Walgreens has had tremendous success on Poplar all the way to Collierville,” said Jay Tillman, a partner with Wes Newman in Newman-Tillman Properties LLC, which has built or been involved in the three Walgreens stores dotting Poplar between Highland and Massey. “Walgreens has been targeting that intersection for a long time and it was just a matter of getting everything put together.”

The new 14,550-square-foot store slated to open early next year is replacing an Exxon gas station on Poplar and a Bank of America building on White Station. Walgreens signed a 25-year ground lease, with options for up to 75 years for the two parcels, which are owned by the Erb family.

Danny Buring, partner with The Shopping Center Group LLC, said the new location filled a need for Walgreens.

“Yes, this is pretty close to Perkins but going east to Massey is a pretty good spread,” Buring said.

It’s not just Poplar. Walgreens is following the time-tested method of large retailers placing multiple stores on busy yet accessible street corners. For instance, Walgreens has three stores on Elvis Presley Boulevard between Winchester Road and Shelby Drive.

Still, property along Poplar in East Memphis – generally considered the best office and retail location inside the city – is hard to come by.

Tillman said multiple parties were interested in the site.

“There was some competition,” he said. “There was more than one other party who was interested. It’s just exceptional real estate.”

Buring said Walgreens likely had to pay a premium for the location.

“Somebody said, ‘What’s that worth?’” Buring said. “And I said go find me another acre and a half of land on Poplar Avenue. It’s worth what people are willing to pay for it.”