Critics had planned boycott after stalled Liberty Heights Avenue project

BALTIMORE - On the eve of a planned boycott of Rite Aid Pharmacy in Baltimore, the company had reached an agreement with the city clearing the way for a new supermarket in Northwest Baltimore.

The Howard Park community lost its last supermarket on Liberty Heights Avenue when it closed 13 years ago, and Rite Aid had clung to a covenant prohibiting any future businesses on the 6-acre parcel from having pharmaceutical, hair or healthcare products.

But City Solicitor George Nilson says the drug store chain has now backed off on that requirement for a large supermarket like the Shoprite, which is planned for the site.

Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said on this agreement,""We are excited to announce that the planned construction of a new supermarket in Howard Park can move forward. For too long, people in this community had to take long trips to get the basic ingredients they need to cook a healthy meal at home—soon they will have everything they need in their own back yard. This partnership will bring new jobs and economic opportunity to Howard Park."

The Howard Park Civic Association had planned a rally in front of a Rite Aid in the 3800 block of Liberty Heights Avenue for this Saturday claiming Rite Aid had put corporate greed before the community's need in blocking the new project.

"We are relieved that Rite Aid has finally decided to become a good neighbor and allowing the community to have the supermarket we so desperately need," said Preston Greene, President of the Howard Park Civic Association.

Greene now says the group will take a second look at the need for such a protest and boycott since the issue has been resolved.

A Rite Aid Pharmacy representative released this statement in regards to the grocery store: "Rite Aid is proud of its long-standing relationship with the city of Baltimore and its residents. In keeping with our commitment to the community and with the best interest of the neighborhood in mind, our executive management team held discussions with city officials earlier this week. As a result of those discussions, Rite Aid agreed to modify the restrictive covenant it holds so that a supermarket with a pharmacy can operate at this location. Rite Aid did so at no cost to the city."

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