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2-Story Walgreens Proposed For Old East Lakeview Borders Store

UPDATED 11/23/11 12:01 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The shuttered Borders bookstore at the busy juncture of Diversey Parkway, Clark Street and Broadway will reopen as a multi-level Walgreens drugstore, according to an architectural firm.

The River North-based firm Hirsch Associates LLC said on its Facebook page that the old Borders store at 2817 N. Clark St. in the East Lakeview neighborhood will be taken over by Walgreens for new, two-story "Wellness Experience" store with more space and features than a typical Walgreens drugstore.

A rendering of the space shows a new, spacious front entrance at the V-shaped intersection of Clark Street and Broadway. In the current configuration, the old Borders store has entrances on both Clark and Broadway, while the proposed new entry way area was occupied until recently by the building's other tenant, Central Savings and Loan.

Walgreens spokesman Robert Elfinger would neither confirm nor deny the report on Wednesday. He would only say that Walgreens does not have a lease signed on the property. reports says the new store would replace an existing Walgreens drugstore at 2801 N. Broadway, on the base of the Rienzi Plaza apartment building across the street from the old Borders site. But that store was renovated just a few years ago.

Clark, Diversey and Broadway
The intersection of Diversey Parkway, Clark Street and Broadway, as seen in 2009. (Credit: Adam Harrington/CBS)

The Borders bookstore that used to occupy the site closed in April after 16 years in business, along with all the other Borders stores in the city except the flagship store at 150 N. State St. They were among 200 stores that closed across the country when after Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In July, Borders liquidated its remaining stores, including the State Street store, and went out of business altogether.

The Borders store opened in early 1995, in what for many years had been a seedy part of the neighborhood then known as New Town. Before Borders moved in, the space was occupied by a popular Great Ace hardware store.

Racked points out that the East Lakeview Borders was by far the city's biggest, at 42,770 square feet, compared with only 32,000 square feet at the State Street location. The three-story store featured books on the first and second levels, and CDs and DVDs on the lower level, as well as a Seattle's Best coffee bar.

Since the Borders store closed, its red sign has continued to light up at night, but a look through the window reveals empty shelves and holes in the wall where pipes once supplied water for the coffee bar. The main level of the old Borders did briefly reopen in October as a pop-up Halloween store.

The Central Savings branch that had been in the building, which predated the Borders store by many years, recently moved to a new location a short distance to the north on Clark Street.

The reportedly planned new Walgreens would be one of many changes, both planned and complete, for the area around Diversey, Clark and Broadway.

Just to the north at the Broadway at Surf shopping center, Wal-Mart is planning to open a Neighborhood Market store focused mainly on groceries at 2840 N. Broadway. While heated community resistance to the planned store died down after the retail giant agreed to a "restrictive covenant" limiting the amount of space it occupies, there have not been reports of the lease for the space being finalized.

The Wal-Mart would take over two empty storefronts that were once occupied by a PetSmart and a Wolf Camera store, and sweep out a popular Cost Plus World Market store that remains in business in the shopping center. The planned opening date for the Wal-Mart has been revised over the past several months from spring to winter 2012.

CBS Chicago Web Producer Adam Harrington contributed to this report.

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