November 1, 2016
Since the ribbon-cutting on April 19, 2016 the Walgreens store has been a welcomed addition to Lansdowne Borough. Walgreens’ takeover of the old Fidelity Bank building in Lansdowne was a sigh of relief when the store was updated with historic preservation in mind. A new addition to the store entrance was designed to match the existing building, historical elements like the old safe were left in the building, and the outdoor clock was replaced instead of removed.
The building has a long history and has sat empty for many years. Originally the Lansdowne Bank & Trust Company opened this building on October 23, 1926. Later, it became the Fidelity Bank and eventually closed. In 1987, car dealer Jerome Sauls received approval to turn the building into a private garage. He had removed the suspended ceiling that covered the original detailed ceiling and balcony, and restored the interior. He had stored his private collection, about 26 cars, with some valued at about $150,000 each. Sauls eventually left the building. Fast forward to 2016, the building had sat empty for ten plus years. Through the hard work of the Delaware County Planning Office, Lansdowne Borough, and the efforts of S &P Developers for Walgreens, the rehabilitation of this anchor building has proven to be an asset to the community.
Delaware County Planning Commission recently awarded Lansdowne Walgreens the William H. Bates Award for the adaptive re-use of the historic building on September 15, 2016. The Bates Award was originally established in 1980 as the Outstanding Land Development Award and renamed in 1982 in honor of the late William H. Bates in recognition of his 17 years of service to the Delaware County Planning Commission. Nominations for this award are taken in August every year from municipal officials, developers, engineers, and the public at large.
Historic building acquisition is not new to Walgreens. They have noted historically iconic building renovations in Boston, Chicago, and Miami. Philadelphia’s own flagship Walgreens store, located at Broad and Chestnut Streets, has three floors of aesthetically inviting shopping. Walgreens is expanding on their vision from traditional drug stores to retail destinations. Acquisition of landmark buildings to create the Walgreens Well Experience is a trend we will likely see more of from Walgreens. Some of their flagship stores offer made-to-order juice, smoothie and milkshake bars; made-fresh-daily hand-rolled sushi and sashimi; a large selection of produce; and high quality, on-the-go meal options such as wraps, soup, sandwiches and salads. Lansdowne’s Walgreens offers on-the-go food options to give the buyer a one-stop shopping experience.
District Manager Myron Stewart for the Lansdowne location has expressed his excitement to be part of the Lansdowne community. At the ribbon-cutting in April, he stated in the Delaware County Times, “We just want to make sure that we’re here for the community, and the people of the community. I’ve been hearing Lansdowne has been looking for someone to take over the building so we’re so happy to be here.” For Lansdowne residents, the acquisition and preservation of the building on Lansdowne and Baltimore Avenues really has them thinking they are at the corner of happy and healthy.