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Rite Aid Closure Sparks Rumors, Worries

Eat ’n Park says it intends to stay as neighboring drug store departs

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
April 14, 2023
Posted in: Announcements

(Tube City Almanac photo)

The Lysle Boulevard location of Rite Aid will close on April 20, employees have confirmed.

A sign at the front entrance to the Downtown store claims the location is “moving.” The addresses given are existing Rite Aid stores on Walnut Street in the city’s Christy Park neighborhood and on Monongahela Avenue in Glassport.

Calls to the company’s Camp Hill headquarters near Harrisburg seeking comment were not returned.

In 2022, Rite Aid closed 145 stores and reported a quarterly loss of $67 million in December. According to Forbes magazine, the chain’s executives said it was planning to close more locations in 2023.

On Wednesday, McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko and a spokeswoman for Homestead-based Eat ’n Park Hospitality Group took steps to reassure residents that the chain’s restaurant, located next to the Rite Aid, is not closing.

“Eat’n Park has been a proud member of the McKeesport community for more than 70 years,” said Courtney Cabrara, company spokeswoman, in a statement provided by the mayor’s office. “We have no plans to close the restaurant, and we look forward to continuing to share smiles with the community. We are grateful and honored by the outpouring of support over this rumor, but this was just that — a rumor.”

According to one online survey, Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of Rite Aid locations of any state in the country, after California. There is reportedly one Rite Aid store for every 30,480 Pennsylvania residents — the highest proportion of Rite Aid stores per capita outside of New Hampshire.

Rite Aid, which has been struggling financially for several years, operated 2,300 stores in 17 states at the end of 2022. The company’s chief executive officer resigned in January and a spokesperson told financial analysts the corporation expected to lose between $551 million and $584 million this year.

The Lysle Boulevard Rite Aid is the second Downtown pharmacy to close in recent years. The CVS on Fifth Avenue, long one of that chain’s smallest and oldest locations, closed in November 2021.

Cherepko said the loss of the Rite Aid on Lysle Boulevard was unfortunate but understandable given that there is a newer Rite Aid in the city, located less than three miles away.

“We are sad to see these businesses leaving Lysle Boulevard, but we know the landscape of our Downtown area is continuing to evolve,“ the mayor said. “People tend to forget what Lysle Boulevard looked like 10 years ago, but the majority of our existing businesses have invested in their properties in that time, and new businesses are coming into town.”

Cherepko said the city has been aggressively removing blight from the Lysle Boulevard corridor under a neighborhood partnership program, or NPP, funded by Duquesne Light, First Commonwealth Bank and UPMC Health Plan.

The program has so far removed the long-vacant G.C. Murphy Co. offices, the former Photographics Supply, an abandoned furniture store and other structures.

The former Jaison’s department store also was demolished after city officials pursued code enforcement proceedings against its owner.

“Developers are looking for shovel-ready property, and we are making every effort to meet that need,” Cherepko said. “The NPP properties have frontage on both Lysle Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, making them prime real estate for modern retail development.”

He noted that first-floor retail has returned to the Executive Building on Fifth Avenue and that the People’s Building has been renovated.

During a reporter’s visit to the Lysle Boulevard Rite Aid on Thursday afternoon, many shelves empty and only a few customers were present.

According to Allegheny County tax records, the building was constructed in 1997 and has an appraised value of $997,000.

Originally published April 14, 2023.

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