By Sara Butler | Editor
Community responds, reps share details of new store at NPPC meeting
On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 80 community members attended the North Park Planning Committee (NPPC) meeting to hear details about Target’s expansion to the neighborhood.
Representatives from Target headquarters in Minnesota presented an update on the new North Park store, which is expected to open in November 2018.
Laurie T. Jones, Target’s senior development manager, led the discussion. Ken McQuaid, the design project architect, was also on hand and offered details on the store layout and artist renderings.
North Park’s “small-format store” will be located at 3018 University Ave. in the vacant building that formerly housed the Wang’s North Park restaurant. Target Corporation confirmed a few weeks ago that they had executed a long-term lease for the property, with a minimum of 10 years.
Target representatives at the meeting said they will not be adding any square footage to the space; rather, they are planning to “simply reuse the existing building.”
The two-story facility will make the North Park location twice as large as South Park’s Target Express; however, at 35,000 square feet, it is significantly smaller than the 198,000 square-foot super store located in Mission Valley.
Merchandise will include produce, clothing, health and beauty products, household supplies, and apparel essentials. They will also offer a CVS Pharmacy and are currently pursuing a liquor license.
Jones stated that while they realize there are gaps in the current list of offerings, they plan to tailor the list to community feedback. They encouraged residents to reach out to community leaders such as NPPC chair, René Vidales, to share additional goods they would like to see offered.
“We realize the needs and wants in your area are going to be different,” Jones said.
Hot topic items from meeting attendees included questions about the building’s exterior, parking issues and Target’s contribution to the local community.
Artist renderings of the future space depict an all-white building which representatives said would “freshen up a tired exterior” and “lighten it up to reflect the San Diego sun.” Many members expressed concern that the stark, white color of the building would not blend with the rest of the area. They encouraged Target representatives to match the new store with existing businesses and factor in the character of the neighborhood with their design.
McQuaid said that they have been working with Jodie Brown of the city’s Historic Resources Group regarding their refurbishment of the historic store front and understanding which parts of the building they can alter. Representatives said Target’s intent is to return to the building’s roots, which initially housed J.C. Penney back in 1942, along with other chain stores that followed.
“[The building] has been a retail anchor in the neighborhood for so long,” McQuaid said. “We kinda want to bring it back to its glory days.”
As for the mural on the building’s west wall — a giant dinosaur painted by Mark Paul Deren, also known as “Madsteez,” in 2012 — Jones said they continue to hear mixed feelings about the mural and have decided to replace it with new, local artwork.
“We would love to come in and do perhaps a new mural that really reflects the spirit of North Park and is done by a North Park artist,” she said.
Another concern among attendees was parking. The Target store will use 30 parking spaces, with 20 located behind the building and another 10 on the east side of Grimm Avenue.
Jones said these spots will be clearly marked for Target’s use and the company will use a Parking Management Plan to keep non-customers from using the stalls. The spaces will only be controlled by Target during store hours — which are yet to be determined — and will open up to the community afterward.
To mitigate parking concerns, Jones said that Target management will require all part-time employees to park in the nearby, multi-level parking structure at 3829 29th St. at their own expense. Alternatively, these employees will be offered a subsidy for public transit and also encouraged to walk or bike to work. In contrast, they said they plan to offer eight reserved spots in the parking structure for executive team leaders for free.
Attendees spoke out about the obvious disparity between management and regular employees, which they said contradicts the “ethos of the neighborhood.”
Community suggestions to combat the disparity included validating parking for employees, providing public transportation subsidies in lieu of parking spots for executive team leaders, offering Uber or Lyft credits, and encouraging biking for all employees.
NPPC board member Dionné Carlson emphasized the bike-friendly aspect of the neighborhood. She proposed that Target management add a bike storage area inside the store to discourage theft, which is common in the area.
A third worry among the crowd was how the Target store would contribute to the neighborhood, as well as how its existence would not hurt local small businesses.
Jones said 90 percent of the merchandise in the store will come from Target distribution centers, and 10 percent will come from local vendors.
Attendees asked that additional merchandise from North Park-based shops be added to the shelves. NPPC board member Peter Hill also suggested including product from the many nearby coffee shops. (Note: A Starbucks will not be included inside this store.)
As for competing with North Park’s small businesses, Jones reiterated that the convenience focus of the small-format Target should not drive business away from local shops, and the quick-trips expected by customers will continue the turnover of any occupied parking spots for these businesses.
Additionally, Jones said they hope their 40–60 employees would “come from the adjacent community” and plan to hold a local employment fair about three months before opening.
Though they couldn’t confirm any monetary contributions to the neighborhood, Jones said the company’s tangible guarantee will be that employees will volunteer in North Park, at the many events held in the area.
“Target is committed to being an active member of the North Park community,” Jones said.
To read our previous coverage of the upcoming Target North Park, visit bit.ly/2zc5Gy9 and bit.ly/2mxhbef. To read more about the building’s historical past, read Katherine Hon’s Past Matters column at bit.ly/2xXCcCC.
— Sara Butler is editor of Uptown News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.