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Willmar Walgreens drugstore will open sometime in Feburary

Jared Mueller, project manager and estimator with Met-Con Companies Construction Services of Mankato, said Met-Con is pushing for work on the Walgreens in Willmar to be completed during the first part of January. Tribune photo by Bill Zimmer

WILLMAR -- The Walgreens drugstore under construction at the corner of First Street and Willmar Avenue Southeast will open sometime during the first half of February 2009, according to developer Eugene Faigus of The Faigus Group of Highland Park, Ill.

Faigus owns and leases stores to Walgreens in Waconia and North Mankato, and he's been working for about four years to bring a Walgreens to Willmar.

Walgreens' first choice here was a site at the corner of First Street and 19th Avenue Southwest, but nothing was available at the time.

In June 2006, Faigus received approval from the Willmar Planning Commission to develop a store at the corner of First Street and Trott Avenue Southeast, but two months later Walgreens scrapped the concept.

In August 2007, Faigus tried again and received approval from the Planning Commission for a Walgreens where Slumberland was located at the First Street and Willmar Avenue corner. This time, Walgreens approved the site. Slumberland moved to a new South First Street location.

"I'm glad it finally worked out,'' said Faigus. "We spent a lot of time there. The city has been great to work with. Hopefully, Walgreens will do well there and hopefully the community will accept them.''

The store will probably employ from 20 to 30 people and will offer pharmacy, photo department, some food products, gifts and seasonal displays.

The general contractor for the $1.5 million project is Met-Con Companies Construction Services of Mankato. This is Met-Con's fifth Walgreens in Minnesota. Met-Con has also built Walgreens in North Mankato, Owatonna, Faribault and New Ulm.

The 14,500-square-foot building in Willmar is similar in size and design with other Walgreens, says Jared Mueller, Met-Con project manager and estimator. Mueller said Met-Con is pushing for work to be completed during the first part of January.

Site work began in the middle of June. From 10 to 15 workers are on site, depending on what trade is working at the time, he said.

Some area contractors are working on the project. Duininck Bros. of Prinsburg demolished the Slumberland building and prepared the site. Beaver Concrete and Masonry of Spicer handled the brick and concrete work, and Double J Masonry of New London constructed the masonry.

Willmar Glass Service handled the glass and glazing, and Lake Country Mechanical of Spicer is installing the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.

In addition, J.T. Electric Service of Albany provided the electrical work, Roden Iron of Milaca erected the steel, and R.T.L. Construction of Shakopee is doing the drywall, framing and taping.

Constructing in Willmar "has been a real good experience,'' said Mueller. "We've been working with the city to do inspections. It's been going very good.''

Walgreens was founded in 1901 by Charles Walgreen Sr. in the Chicago drugstore Walgreen bought where he worked as a pharmacist, according to the company's Web site.

Among other highlights, Walgreens:

- Invented the malted milkshake in 1922.

- Filled its 100th millionth prescription in 1960.

- Reached $1 billion in sales in 1975.

- Opened its 3,000th store in 2000.

- Opened its 5,000th store in 2005.

Today, the company has 6,543 drugstores in 49 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., including 118 in Minnesota.