On Wednesday, October 18, the Rite Aid store at 959 S. Crenshaw Blvd. (the NW corner of the intersection of Crenshaw and Olympic Blvd.) will close permanently. The shutdown is part of a nationwide downsizing of the Rite Aid chain, connected to its recent bankruptcy filing, which, in turn, was prompted by its liability in “more than a thousand” lawsuits claiming it “filled prescriptions for excessive quantities of opioids illegal prescriptions for opioid painkillers.”
As a result of those liabilities, Rite Aid – which currently operates almost 450 stores in the state of California – announced several rounds of store closures this year, even before the bankruptcy filing. And the trend is likely to continue. In fact, according to other news reports, the pace of the closures will likely accelerate now as the chain sheds “underperforming” stores as part of its financial restructuring. The latest round, announced today, includes the following LA County stores in addition to 959 S. Crenshaw:
4044 Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles
4046 South Centinela Avenue, Los Angeles
7859 Firestone Boulevard, Downey
4402 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach
935 North Hollywood Way, Burbank
139 North Grand Avenue, Covina
13905 Amar Road, La Puente
920 East Valley Boulevard, Alhambra
15800 Imperial Highway, La Mirada
While many neighbors in Windsor Village, Wilshire Park, and other adjacent neighborhoods frequent the store and will definitely feel its loss, the business has also been the source of at least a few neighborhood complaints in recent years, including issues with transients and crime at both the store and a strip of city property adjacent to it.
Jeff Estow, who lives near the store in the Windsor Village neighborhood, told the Buzz he’s been working with store management for several years (since David Ryu represented the area on the City Council), to encourage it to fulfill proposed site improvements that were part of its original permit conditions, but which were never implemented. Estow said the store management was very responsive during those talks, and recently offered to provide new drawings for the proposed improvements…but discussions went silent shortly before the closure was announced.
Estow said he also recently looked into the store’s liquor permits, and discovered that while it does have an active liquor license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which was granted in 1998 and expires in June, 2024, its City of Los Angeles Conditional Use Permit for liquor sales, also granted in 1998, was good for only 20 years and expired in 2018. Estow said he notified both ABC and store management of the lapsed permit, and after city inspectors also confirmed it, the store stopped selling liquor and submitted an application for a new permit in June of this year. Now that the store is closing, however, that application, too, has been terminated.
Thinking about additional improvements for the location, Estow told the Buzz that he’d like the city to create a new pocket park, in the style of nearby Harold A. Henry Park, on the vacated stretch of W. 10th St. and a small green space between the 10th St. segment and Olympic Blvd., something he believes “would be really great for the neighborhood.” Estow says he has contacted City Council District 5 Field Deputy Michelle Flores about the idea, and also hopes to get a discussion about it agendized at an upcoming meeting of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Land Use Committee. Estow said a park would be much better than the current “disrepair and neglect” of those areas, which he said have long made it a “magnet for nefarious behavior.”
Estow said he has not yet heard about any plans for the future of the store building after Rite Aid leaves, though he is planning to contact the building’s owners, Santiago Holdings, LLC, to request that it be adequately secured while it’s vacant. And for the longer term, he said, he’s keeping “fingers crossed that something good happens” with the parcel.
Finally, several neighbors who are customers of the store have told the Buzz that existing prescriptions usually filled there are being automatically transferred to the Ralphs pharmacy at 670 S. Western Ave. (just south of Wilshire Blvd.)…though customers can also call to request transfers to another Rite Aid store, such as the one on Larchmont Blvd., if that’s more convenient.
[NOTE: This story was updated after its initial publication to include the most recent list of LA County store closures, announced today.]