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(Brian Miller is on vacation.)

PORTLAND, OR-Lease negotiations are being finalized that could bring an 18,000 sf Walgreens drug store outlet to the new Portland Hilton Executive Tower complex next year.

Jim Mark, CEO of Melvin Mark Cos., whose firm is developing the Hilton project, confirmed Tuesday that negotiations have not yet been completed, and that no letters of intent have been signed at this point.

The new Hilton tower, located at Southwest Fifth Avenue and Taylor Street, has two floors of retail space. Mark believes that Downtown Portland is an attractive location for the Illinois-based drug store chain, which already has 10 stores within seven miles of Downtown.

“I think they would be an excellent asset to the building,” says Mark, whose company owns the land in partnership. “We own the side that faces Ralph’s. The space they would take is really the only vacancy we have. Hilton is going to put a signature Italian restaurant on the ground floor. Hilton will own the hotel portion of it and that includes the portion of the ground floor for the entrance and the restaurant.”

The 329-room expansion of the Hilton hotel will make the asset the largest hotel in Portland with a total of 800 rooms. The construction will include a multilevel 700-parking-space garage that will be enclosed in glass.

“It makes the building look better,” comments Mark. “You won’t even know there’s parking in it.”

Walgreens is planning to spend $1.3 billion to launch 475 new stores nationwide during its current fiscal year that runs between August 2001 and August 2002. Melvin Mark’s asking rate for the two-level store at the Hilton is $54 per sf.

Walgreens completed fiscal 2001 with a 16.1% increase in sales to $24.6 billion and earnings of $872 million, a 15.3% increase. Prescriptions accounted for 57.5% of sales in fiscal 2001. The company has increased sales for 27 consecutive years. Fiscal 2001 marked the company’s centennial, a year in which the company opened 474 stores nationwide. The company’s goal is to have 6,000 stores by 2010.

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