Cornering the Market

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Cornering the Market

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- To operate a store on a highly visible corner of an intersection is a goal for any convenience retailer, along with drug stores, banks and quick-serve restaurants. The demand for these lots is driving real estate prices for the desirable properties to $2 million and more, reported The Intelligencer.

Companies such as Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Commerce Bank, and Wawa Inc., headquartered in Wawa, Pa., are more than willing to part with at least $2 million for land at busy intersections, not including construction costs.

Other banks and drug store chains -- including Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid -- are jumping in the fight and paying top dollar for long-term land leases on corner lots owned by real estate investors.

"There's no question that values are being pushed by the Walgreens and CVS' of the world, but other users are having an effect, too," Marshal Granor, a partner at Granor Price, a Horsham residential and commercial developer told the newspaper. "Corners, and it's only certain corners, have become a real hot commodity."

"Finding these prime corner lots has really been the key to our success," said Carol Hively, a spokeswoman for Walgreens, based in Deerfield, Ill. The goal for the chain is to be located at "Main and Main," or the busiest intersection in the area, to give competition a run or its money, she said.

"We're all looking for the same kind of intersection," she added. "Being on major traffic routes has really been important to our business, as have the drive-through pharmacies."

Walgreen's potential sites must have three key factors: an intersection where two busy streets come together; a highly visible location at that intersection, preferably right on the corner; and easy access from both streets.

Most commercial buyers want an intersection with traffic signals, because drivers sitting at red lights are more likely to see the store, said Kurt Eisenschmid, president of Penn's Grant Realty, a Doylestown commercial brokerage.

"That all plays into visibility," Eisenschmid said.
To date, the highest paid for a corner lot in the local area was Wawa, with $2.8 million for a gas station and convenience store. Along with the store, Wawa is also extending one of the intersecting roads to connect with another.

"They're creating a corner property by putting the road through," Gail Weniger, Warwick's township manager, told the Intelligencer.