Planning Commission approves new Walgreens design at 27th & Hennepin

Walgreens has redesigned its store that replaces Roat Osha at 27th & Hennepin. The design approved by the city Planning Commission is now all brick with a cornice and warmer colors, similar to a Walgreens in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood.

The height of the building has increased. It doesn’t function as a two-story building, but second-floor windows will bring light into the store.

The developer worked with area residents on the redesign.

“The neighborhood’s objections regarding lack of density still remain, however, there’s no way it’s really going to become a denser building,” said East Isles Residents Association President Andrew Degerstrom. “So instead the focus was on making sure we can get a design that is much more in keeping with the neighborhood and surrounding buildings. … Overall we have been very pleased with the design changes.”

Planning Commissioners took the design changes a step further. They voted to move canopies from 12 feet closer to 10 feet, to achieve a more pedestrian scale. A Walgreens architect said they originally designed canopies high above the ground to avoid people jumping to reach them.

Walgreens revised plan-page-41

Commissioners also voted to relocate the primary entrance from a spot facing the north parking lot to a location within 25 feet of the Hennepin & 27th intersection.

The East Isles neighborhood took no position on the entrance location. Degerstrom said in March that he personally thinks a parking lot entrance would be visually confusing when viewed from the corner, and said it shows Walgreens values convenience for car-driving customers over urban design.

Howard Bergerud, a consultant for Walgreens, said a parking lot entrance would be better for store operations and for less-mobile customers.

Commissioner Ryan Kronzer, who proposed the change, said he knows Walgreens can redesign the store when necessary.

“Given the flatness of the sidewalk and the high level of pedestrians, I don’t see those as impediments to this,” he said.