By Kevin Collison
The announcement last week Target plans to open one of its smaller urban stores as part of a midtown St. Louis development has prompted renewed speculation about when the chain plans something similar here.
Perhaps as early as next year, according to real estate sources, although exactly where in Kansas City’s “River-Crown-Plaza” urban corridor remains to be seen.
“Developers and property owners are definitely talking to Target and their real estate team,” said Tommy Wilson, economic development manager for the Downtown Council.
“We have the population to attract an urban Target store…not to mention downtown employees and visitors who’d go to the store. If they’re looking at St. Louis, we’re a peer market.”
The 70,000 square-foot Target planned for St. Louis will be the anchor for a $60 million mixed-use development near Saint Louis University that will include 196 luxury apartments.
The project is located within the 400-acre redevelopment area that’s guided by the St. Louis Midtown Redevelopment Corp., according to a release. The development is about three miles west of downtown St. Louis on the city light rail line.
Minneapolis-based Target has been rolling out its smaller, urban stores in cities for a decade now in an effort to capture new market share beyond its earlier suburban roots. They’re typically about half the size of the average 135,000 square-foot suburban model.
In a company report last March, Target said it wants to spend $4 billion annually over the next several years building new stores and refurbishing existing ones.
“Target plans to accelerate the pace and open 30-40 new stores each year to meet community needs in urban centers, college campuses and dense suburban cities across the country,” the company announced.
As for its interest in greater downtown Kansas City or along the planned streetcar corridor to UMKC, a Target spokesperson would only say there was “no new store news to share at this time.
“We consider a number of factors when evaluating new store opportunities, such as population density, site accessibility and how we can fill a need in the community,” Anthony Thomas, said in an email.
“We work closely with local leaders to identify locations where we can best serve a neighborhood and offer a convenient and inspiring shopping experience.”
It’s not that people aren’t clamoring for what was once known as a City Target but is now branded simply Target. A survey of downtown residents conducted by the Downtown Council earlier this year found Target was number one on the retail wish list.
“In the resident survey, far and away the number one request was Target,” Wilson said. “The distant second was Trader Joe’s.”
Target did flirt briefly with locating a store in downtown three years ago when the former City Center Square building was being renovated to become the lightwell project.
“We talked in a very cursory way early on in lightwell,” said Tim Schaffer, president of AREA Real Estate Advisors. “It didn’t go very far. We couldn’t get the space in the right location and decided it wasn’t the right time.”
Peter Cassel of Mac Properties, said Target was among several chain stores his firm approached to be part of its planned mixed-use project at Armour and Main.
“We called all the usual suspects including Target, but nobody bit,” he said. “We certainly made folks familiar there was a large site in Midtown.”
Target however, has a strong interest in locating a store in the River-Crown-Plaza corridor, according to sources, and a decision could come sometime next year.
Wilson said the Downtown Council believes attracting an urban Target is very much part of its mission.
“It would add to what we’re trying to create, a walkable life at your door,” he said. “We’ve been the voice or residents and it’s their number one request.
“It would be a big win, not just for downtown, but the city…from downtown through Midtown and the Plaza, there’s just no a general merchandise store like Target and this is an area that’s growing.
“I think Target is interested and in discussions and trying to figure out what location would work.”
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