Amidst worries from locals, Target plans to open a new location in San Diego
During last week’s North Park Planning Committee meeting on February 20th, representatives from Target met with locals to discuss the opening of a new location in the heart of North Park.
Set to open in November, the new small-format store will be nestled within a 35,200 square foot space at 3029 University Avenue. The current site, which has been empty for nearly three years, will soon be filled by the large chain that currently has nearby locations in South Park and Mission Valley.
"Target is committed to being a member of the North Park community," stated Senior Development Manger Laurie T. Jones at the meeting last week. "We will focus on responsible growth."
In her presentation, Jones highlighted the fact that the store will have a full-service pharmacy, 30 dedicated parking stalls and a new mural that "respects the spirit of North Park and is done by a North Park artist."
Focusing on the benefits for the neighborhood, Jones also stated that 10% of their merchandise would come from local vendors.
All that said, several attendees were far from impressed.
Whether it be due to worries about an already tight parking situation, money potentially being taken away from other businesses or simply the design of the building, there was no lack of clear frustration and anxieties from several people who voiced their concerns.
One local store owner present at the meeting, who wished to remain anonymous for an interview with The San Diego Chronicle, opened up about some of these apprehensions.
"...our main concern is the parking. One of the main reasons for choosing a location is access to parking which is now being limited," said the store owner through email.
"People who have read about North Park and what the neighborhood has to offer are driving here from North County, East County and sometimes further to see what the buzz is about- which is independent boutiques, restaurants and bars. They are not coming to North Park because there is a Target. And of course you have to hope it doesn’t open the floodgates for more chain stores moving in and pushing out the independents."
The same owner wasn't won over by the comments from Target about becoming a part of the community either.
"There was nothing they said [at the North Park Planning Committee meeting] that wasn’t corporate speak. And when asked many questions from the audience about parking, employees, sustainability, money going back in to the community; they did not have any concrete answers to even one of the questions," added the local store owner.
"They even looked a bit speechless at times. I have nothing against Target, but I do think they’ll say whatever everyone wants to hear, and when open, it will just be a Target, a corporate business."
As mentioned earlier, the design itself was a major talking point as well. The planned removal of the famous 50-foot dinosaur mural on the building was questioned, and a handful of others in attendance weren't fans of the rendering either.
Although several board members of the committee weren't as bothered by the Target project by the many citizens in the room, board member Kathleen Ferrier couldn't help but point out her distaste of the rendering.
"The design of the Target building scares me, it's so bleak," said Ferrier during the meeting. "It's so Target."
For better or worse, one of the largest discount stores in the country will soon have a place within the center of North Park's thriving independent business scene.
Whether it prospers or not, ultimately lies in the hands (and dollars) of the locals --- something which board member Robert Gettinger stated near the end of the recent planning committee.
"You guys are the consumers," said Gettinger last week to the public. "You will determine its success."