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CVS targets October opening for new Duluth store

Construction of the Plaza CVS pharmacy on East Superior Street is expected to be completed in time for an early October opening, though that date could change. The entrance faces 12th Avenue East and the Walgreens store across the street. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Construction of a CVS pharmacy at 12th Avenue East and Superior Street in Duluth is heading for the finish line.

“We’re on track to open in early October,” said CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis. “We’ll know next month.”

An October opening will come nearly a year after site work began. That’s much longer than the usual four or five months it typically takes to build a CVS store. But soon after site work began on the block-long project, extreme winter weather descended on Duluth without releasing its grip for months.

Work was shut down for 3½ months, a supervisor with Copeland General Contractors, the project’s general contractor, confirmed last spring.

By April, work had resumed, and the store took shape over the summer.

At 13,000 square feet, it will be the standard size for a CVS store and have a pharmacy drive-thru. The hiring of about 20 employees for the 24-hour store will get started soon, he said.

“We normally start 45 days from opening,” DeAngelis said.

CVS, a relatively new entry to the Twin Ports market, opened its first two local stores in Superior and West Duluth two years ago.

The Plaza store will be its third store, but it was supposed to be its first. The property acquisitions  — including a gas station, house and the Plaza strip mall — and the buyout of mall leases took longer than expected. And the holdout of one tenant, the Beijing Restaurant, delayed construction for up to two years.

Construction also was hampered by contaminated soil on the site, mostly from old fuel oil that had leaked from the house.

Like the West Duluth store, the upcoming Plaza CVS is directly across the street from a Walgreens store. It’s a company strategy to open in prime locations already identified by industry giant Walgreens, thereby creating pharmacy shopping hubs.

But how is the new West Duluth CVS faring against busy Walgreens?

“We’re very happy with how the new stores are performing,” DeAngelis said. “They’re performing to expectations. Any store needs time to grow its customer base.”

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