Marquette Wire

Downtown developers set sights on Target

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In light of Borders Group Inc. obtaining the go-ahead to close all its  Milwaukee locations, the Shops of Grand Avenue will soon have a major vacancy on its east side. However, major retail may be gearing up to swoop in.

Some city developers believe a Target might be the perfect fit, but only if it uses a smaller, vertical format.

Bruce Westling, Milwaukee broker and developer, and president of the NAI MLG Commercial real estate organization, said a major downtown retailer would meet the needs created by the multiple college populations, young professionals and the influx of residents over the last 10 years.

“A downtown retailer would keep residents shopping downtown, spin off additional retail, add tax base and be more convenient,” Westling said.

Westling believes Target specifically would make a great anchor business for the downtown community.

“Target is a retailer where everybody shops,” Westling said. “It’s a cross section of people. … All I can envision is positives.”

Last week, Target Corp. announced the next location for its urban-format store, CityTarget, in downtown Chicago. The CityTarget model aims to fill daily needs of metropolitan life with a significantly smaller design.

According to a company press release, CityTarget locations will offer affordable fresh food, apartment essentials and fashion collections to consumers, “whether they be commuters, tourists or urban dwellers.”

Besides the location slated for Chicago, the Minneapolis-based retailer plans to open CityTargets in Seattle, the Twin Cities, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

Dennis Garrett, an associate professor of marketing, said Target left Milwaukee off its radar because it probably does have the population draw and density to test it as a CityTarget location.

“What’s happening is Target and other retailers have realized they’ve saturated the U.S. with their traditional style stores,” Garrett said. “So now they are trying to penetrate other markets with different formats.”

But no CityTarget does not mean no Target at all, as the larger store prototype could open in areas like the land at North Water and East Knapp streets, according to Westling.

One of Target’s newer goals is grocery expansion, as it is currently renovating stores in West Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Menomonee Falls to include baked goods, fresh produce and fresh meat.

Westling said a grocery-enhanced Target downtown wouldn’t replace a full grocery store, but it would create a convenience factor for the essentials.

Jimmy Tardella, a junior in the College of Communication, said a Target would benefit the community because people living on campus or downtown would not have to leave the area completely to buy food.

“We don’t have many grocery stores nearby, and going to Pick ‘n Save is out of the way and often in a different neighborhood, so any metropolitan one would definitely help,” Tardella said.

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