Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)


Community Planning

First Advisor

Farhad Atash


This research project explores the development practices of chain drugstores and the effects that these developments have on traditional downtowns in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. The study first explores the evolution of the pharmaceutical industry and identifies the existing competitive nature of the drug market. The study evaluates chain drugstores' aggressive growth strategies and standard prototypes for building and site design.

Windshield survey of Walgreens drugstores in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts provided insight as to the chain's common development practices. This method identified the standard prototype building designs and signage that the drugstores use to minimize costs and maximize efficiency. It was determined that this practice of locating "cookie-cutter" stores in older downtown settings commonly disrupts the existing scale and architectural character of older commercial districts.

Innovative planning concepts that promote better design such as downtown vision plans supported by zoning codes, design review and historic districts are explored to show the regulatory measures and negotiating strategies that are available to communities interested in preventing homogeneous chain drugstore development. In addition, case studies of three communities that integrated better models for chain drugstores into their traditional downtown settings are evaluated as precedents.

The final chapter of the study focuses on community elements that are key to assure successful integration of chain drugstore design. These include strong design regulations, adamant citizen support and monitoring, and consistent enforcement, which ensures that the chain drugstores carry out the community's established design standards.