By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner prescribed some harsh medicine for Rite Aid yesterday – stop abandoning Toledo’s central city or face the consequences of angering city leaders.
“We welcome Rite Aid doing business in Toledo,” he said. “But when they make plans, they need to think about the impact on the neighborhood.”
The mayor, joined by District 1 Councilwoman Wilma Brown, held a news conference in front of the Rite Aid at Dorr Street and Junction Avenue, which is scheduled to close April 11.
Combined with the January closing of a Rite Aid at Bancroft Street and Upton Avenue, also in the central city, the shutdown has made some city leaders accuse the drugstore giant of abandoning some central-city neighborhoods.
“It’s destroying what we’re trying to build, and that’s the neighborhood,” Mrs. Brown said. “Suppose you don’t have a car to get to the drugstore? They’re leaving behind the senior citizens who need to walk to the drugstore.”
But Rite Aid spokesman Tom Andrzejewski said claims that the company was abandoning the central city were ludicrous. He point ed to a store at Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue that opened last year.
Both the Dorr Street store and the shuttered Bancroft Street store are about a mile away from the new store, which Mr. Andrzejewski said would provide better service, longer hours, and more features to the neighborhood than either of the other two.
“It’s pretty much in the same neighborhood,” he said. “Rite Aid just cannot operate a smaller store that doesn’t provide the revenues needed to keep it open.”
The Dorr Street store is being closed to focus more of the company’s efforts at the Monroe store, which is about 50 per cent larger.
In his speech, Mr. Finkbeiner mentioned the possibility of taking action against Rite Aid if the company does not reinvest in central-city locations.
Mrs. Brown went further, saying she would try to block any zoning changes or construction permits for future Rite Aid stores.
Rite Aid is planning to open seven new stores in Toledo over the next 18 months, an investment of $14 million. An undetermined number – perhaps four or five – will replace one of the 17 existing neighborhood stores in Toledo.
Mr. Andrzejewski said trying to block development and construction would be counterproductive.
“It certainly would be a shame if the city stood in the way of new investment and taxes and jobs and more dollars for a community that has undergone some tough times,” he said. “Rite Aid is in there. It’s a retailer that has stuck to its guns and built a new store in the inner city.”