Construction for the new Walgreens superstore near the intersection of Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue should be complete by the end of the month, according to a construction manager from DeJames Builders, who are working on the project.
Construction first began in March, and now the building is all but complete. Fixtures could be seen inside and the drive-thru lane is already set up.
The new store will replace the current Walgreens at 4101 Dempster St., which is just a few blocks west from the new store. The key differences between the two is that the new Walgreens will sell groceries, be much bigger and offer a drive-thru pharmacy window.
Some residents have bitter-sweet thoughts about the new store, however.
"I think it is going to be really convenient because I live with my grandma and we can now walk to the store and get everything we need," said Brittney Jones, 26, who lives adjacent to the new Walgreens on Harding Avenue. "I think [the Skokie Walgreens] will be like the big one in downtown Chicago. It's kind of cool."
However, Jones does have her concerns.
"I think the Dempster-Crawford intersection is going to be a nightmare," she said.
The new Walgreens store has a pharmacy exit sign that allows cars to only turn left onto Harding Avenue, leading them immediately to Dempster Street. However, cars may enter Walgreens from Harding while some motorists may ignore the exit sign altogether.
"It's already so busy right now. I'm already seeing cars cut through my street to bypass the traffic and I think it will only get worse once the new store opens."
The new store will be 13,125 square feet on a 42,000-square-foot parcel. While it will only be one story, it will stand 22-24 feet high, making it the equivalent of several multistory buildings.
To try and ease some of the traffic concerns, a team of architects and traffic engineers announced a new system for cars using the drive-through. Drivers will be directed westbound through a 22-foot alley onto Crawford, thus they will be unable to turn onto Harding Avenue. This had been a major source of consternation in the previous plan as residents along Harding were concerned about excess traffic coming onto that avenue.
Walgreens is also promising additional trees and signage to prevent cars from making illegal turns into the community. Company representatives also said they are working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to eventually have new sidewalks, streetlights and crosswalks at the intersection as well as a re-timed traffic signal. In addition, there were promises of that sketch of Dempster would be reconfigured for additional traffic considerations.
“We have taken that plan, incorporated your suggestions and improved that plan greatly,” said Edwin Vdovets, a real estate developer representing Walgreens at the meeting. “I don’t stand before you naïve enough to believe I will have everyone’s support on the Harding Avenue block, but that didn’t stop me from trying.”